(NEWTON, Iowa - July 15, 2012) - The first night race of 2012 offered plenty of changing factors for teams at Iowa Speedway, and Frank Kimmel returned to the top five with a fifth-place finish at the night's end.
Both practice sessions for ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competitors occurred during the heat of the afternoon. Kimmel and the Ansell/Menards Toyota team battled a tight condition throughout practice, but were near the top of the speed chart all afternoon. The ThorSport Racing team made changes to the No. 44 Toyota for Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell, which also took place in bright sunshine. Kimmel earned the 10th starting position, which was his fourth top-10 qualifying effort in the last five races.
From the drop of the green flag, Kimmel aggressively gained positions in the opening laps, moving up to sixth, and settled inside the top 10 throughout the first green flag run. Iowa Speedway lends itself to some of the most competitive side-by-side racing on the ARCA Racing Series circuit, and Kimmel was right in the middle of the action. For many laps, Kimmel battled hard to protect his top-10 position, racing door-to-door with the competition for numerous laps.
The event's first caution flew at Lap 74, under which Kimmel came down pit road for four tires as well as adjustments to fix an ill-handling race car, lacking side bite and rear grip off the corners. The Ansell/Menards team picked up a position on pit road and sent Kimmel out in the seventh position. Kimmel was running ninth at a Lap 113 caution flag and came to pit road for more adjustments as the tight condition from practice had plagued the team yet again. After restarting 11th, the pit stop allowed crew chief Jeriod Prince to employ an off-sequence strategy to gain track position on the following yellow flag.
Prince kept Kimmel on track during the caution on Lap 127, as Kimmel inherited the lead after communicating the car had felt the best it had all day long. Numerous cautions littered the subsequent laps, while Kimmel showed his prowess on restarts, keeping the competitors at bay. On Lap 152, Kimmel battled the tight condition through the center of the corner and surrendered the lead to eventual race winner Alex Bowman. Kimmel led a total of 23 laps and ran in the top five through the duration of the event, and held on to his fifth-place position during the green-white-checkered finish.
By finishing fifth, Kimmel secured his fourth top-five finish and eighth top-10. While Kimmel lost a position in the series standings, he closed the gap on points leader Chris Buescher to 105 points. The finish also extended Kimmel's streak of top-10s at Iowa Speedway to six consecutive races.
"The Ansell/Menards Toyota ran pretty decent all night," Kimmel said. "We were on a tightrope with the balance. If we tried to tighten it up off, it'd get so tight to turn in the middle and we struggled with that all day. It's frustrating, because we work on it every week. One of these days, we're going to figure it out. I'm really proud of the effort, and the call to get the track position that allowed us to get up toward the front and get another top-five finish."
Chicagoland Speedway will host the 12th race of the ARCA Racing Series season this Saturday, July 21. The Ansell ActivArmrŽ 150 will be the 12th ARCA Racing Series event at the 1.5-mile oval in Joliet, Ill. Kimmel will showcase the Ansell ActivArmrŽ brand on the hood of the No. 44 Toyota in conjunction with Ansell's title sponsorship of the event.
Timing and scoring will be available on ARCARacing.com beginning with the opening practice at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, July 20. SPEED will air live the 100-lap, 150-mile race live at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday.
From Team Release