Kimmel Holds Decisive Advantage Following ARCA RE/MAX Series Practice
Two new faces and a familiar one stood atop the speed chart today at Kentucky Speedway following ARCA RE/MAX Series practice for the May 14 "Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati 150."
The new faces belonged to series rookies Chad McCumbee and Kevin Hamlin while the familiar face was that of three-time Kentucky Speedway race winner Frank Kimmel.
Kimmel turned the fastest lap of the two-hour practice at 170.052 mph (31.756 seconds). The effort was 3.189 mph faster than the second-fastest driver McCumbee (166.883 mph / 32.358 mph) and 3.221 mph better than the third-quickest driver, Hamlin (166.831 mph / 32.368 seconds).
Kimmel, who holds a five-point advantage over rookie Joey Miller in the series standings, becomes the early favorite to win his sixth career Kentucky pole award when drivers qualify tomorrow at 9:45 a.m.
"The No. 46 Advance Auto Parts/Pork Producers Ford is really running good," Kimmel said. "We worked on making the car drive comfortably. We try to get it figured out in two or three laps because the tires get so hot. We did to a seven-, eight-lap run early and the car seems to pick up speed the longer it runs. It's going to be heckuva day (tomorrow). The competition is really stout out there so we really have to pick it up."
McCumbee was just as impressed with his crew's performance as he was with the performance of his No. 11 Seawatch-Fast Track Driving School Chevrolet in race and qualifying trim.
"I'm extremely impressed with the way the car ran. We taped it up a little bit, but didn't max out what we can do," McCumbee said. "I'm excited we turned a quick lap there in somewhat of a mock qualifying run. We've got a little bit left and I'm just as excited about how the car is driving in race trim. It showcases the hard work the guys have done. It's been long hours for them and everybody's coming around. We're starting to get the right people in the right places and it shows on the track."
Hamlin and his No. 99 Ken Schrader Racing Dodge also made progress from the beginning to the end of the session.
"We only changed tires once. We went out right at the beginning of practice on one set of tires and ran a bunch of laps on it," Hamlin said. "We didn't get a chance to test here and I've never seen this place. It's my first time on a track this size, so we were just trying to get me comfortable by making changes. We were 18th or so on the board for a long time and I thought we could be better than that. At the end, we put on a new set (of tires) and did a mock qualifying run. We taped up maybe three-quarters of the way and tried some things. It just worked and the car was really, really good. I'm pretty pleased."
Stuart Kirby, who led a 31-team series test session at the speedway last week with a 171.756-mph lap, was seventh best in today's practice after turning his best lap at 165.188 mph (32.690 seconds) in the No. 75 Bob Schacht Motorsports -SUBcrews.com Ford.
"The heat made a big difference (from the May 2 test day). It was a lot hotter today," Kirby said. "Last time it was probably in the mid-50s, plus, there were more cars today, which makes the track more greasy. We were working on race set-up today, we can't find a happy medium to get off the turns. Having both the race and qualifying in one day will be good. It will really bring out the driving ability in qualifying because people have to run their race set-up."
Kentucky Speedway gates open tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. The full day of activity features a Kentucky HeadHunters concert at noon, the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series "Bluegrass 100" on the paved quarter-mile track at 1:30 p.m. and "The Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati 150" at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be reserved for $40 at Gate 16 at the track.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~