TOLEDO, Ohio – Despite the switch from ThorSport Racing to Win-Tron Racing for the 2014 season, Frank Kimmel’s role remains the same – drive the wheels off the No. 44 Ansell-Menards Toyota.
From the driver’s chair, things will, pretty much, look the same through Kimmel’s windshield. Outside the car, however, the 10-time ARCA national champion will be working with a completely different cast of characters – some of the team principals include NASCAR veteran crew chief Jamie Jones and co-owners Kevin Cywinski and Nate Thiesse.
The Win-Tron team is most noted for its driver development program, which most recently groomed the career of Mason Mingus who finished second to Kimmel in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship standings in 2013.
That said, adding a 10-time national champion to the Win-Tron mix is a little out of the ordinary for the development team, or is it?
“Whether we’re working with a rookie or a veteran, the overall picture remains the same – keeping your eye on the big prize. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rookie or a veteran, we still want to win races and win championships,” Thiesse said.
Win-Tron got closer to an ARCA championship than ever before last year, but it’s the one element that still eludes the team.
“Having Frank (Kimmel) drive the car this year is probably a little different from what we’re used to but I can tell you we’re very exciting about the possibilities. When you work with Frank, you always have a chance to win every race, and we’re talking anywhere, and yes, even the road courses. We rule nothing out; it’s just a matter of getting the car right under him. And Frank’s obviously good at winning championships.”
With a twist of irony, Win-Tron has twice finished second to Kimmel in ARCA championship points, with Joey Miller in 2005 and last year with Mingus.
There is, however, one prize that Win-Tron’s got that Kimmel does not, and that would be a victory at Daytona. Win-Tron went to the winner’s circle at the “World Center of Racing” in 2009 with James Buescher driving. Buescher went to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship soon after.
“We are absolutely coming with a ‘no-holes barred’ attitude for Daytona, and beyond. We know it’s (Daytona) on Frank’s bucket list to accomplish, but we’re looking at every race; they’re all important. There is no doubt in my mind that we can go to Daytona and win with Frank. That would be a real highlight, to win with Frank there. He can take a 15th place car, put himself in a position to win, and then seal the deal with a win whereas so many others just can’t seem to get there. But he can because he’s Frank Kimmel. He knows how to win races; he knows how to win championships.”
While an ARCA championship still eludes the Win-Tron franchise, championship elements are well entrenched within the team’s framework. Co-owner Cywinski is a three-time ASA national stock car driving champion. Thiesse was a crew member on two of Cywinski’s championship runs in ASA. The very successful duo of Cywinski and Thiesse goes way back.
“Kevin (Cywinski) understands what it takes to be a champion. It’s what fuels him. He’s been there as a driver; now he wants, more than anything, to get there as a car owner. This is a new challenge for him. It’s every bit as satisfying as an owner to put the moving pieces of the puzzle together. But I know Kevin still has that championship drive in him. To finally achieve that, in ARCA, for this team, would be as big as it gets. And that just happens to be one thing that Frank Kimmel is also really good at.”
Win-Tron will have its hands full in 2014 in multiple directions. In addition to fielding a full-time effort in the ARCA Racing Series, the team will field a full-time effort for Mingus in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Mingus is also planning to run selected ARCA races when his schedule allows. And, the Win-Tron team plans to field ARCA cars for Canadian Terry Jones from time to time, starting with Daytona.
“We’ve got a lot going on, but we’re ready for it,” added Thiesse. “We ran two full-time teams last year, here in ARCA and in the K&N Series, so we’re conditioned to run multiple teams in full-time capacities. The neat thing about this shop is that everyone helps everyone regardless of job titles. We’ve added some people this year to accommodate what we’re doing, but that’s a good thing. The more good help you have, the more good ideas you get.”