(JOLIET, Ill. - July 21, 2012) - Kevin Swindell may have won the Ansell ActivArmr® 150 over five hours before it started.
Swindell, 23, earned the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell when Venturini Motorsports teammate Brennan Poole's would-be pole lap in the morning was disallowed for an inspection infraction. The Tennessee driver stayed out front for all 100 laps at Chicagoland Speedway and cruised to a 1.238-second victory over Poole, who drove from the back of the field to challenge for the win.
"The car was excellent," said Swindell, an accomplished dirt racer who has won three consecutive Chili Bowl Midget Nationals championships. "I was able to get out in front and keep clean air and try not to make any mistakes in traffic, and everything went well. I didn't have any trouble with the pit stops, and the Curb Records car was great. Everything was good, and I can't thank Venturini Motorsports and all the guys enough for a heck of car."
Swindell's win was his first in 11 career ARCA starts, and came in his sixth race for Venturini. No driver has led every lap in an ARCA event since Ryan Hemphill completed the feat in a rain-shortened 67-lap race on July 9, 2004.
The Venturini sweep of the top two positions capped off the team's grand celebration of 30 years in ARCA competition. The team selected Chicagoland Speedway as the site of its commemoration because of the track's proximity to Chicago, the Venturini family's home city and racing origin. Swindell's and Poole's cars, as well as those of Mark Thompson and Nelson Canache, carried throwback paint schemes from the team's championship years and other top moments.
After his leading qualifying lap of 30.64 seconds (176.24 mph), Swindell (No. 55 Curb Records Toyota) jumped to a 0.616-second lead on the first lap and pushed that lead to two seconds by Lap 15, easily outdistancing his closest competitors. Poole (No. 25 Texas Corral Toyota), meanwhile, had improved to 15th by Lap 5, when Korbin Forrister spun off of Turn 2 to bring out the race's first caution. He improved one position after the Lap 9 green flag and found himself in the top 10 by Lap 16.
From there, Swindell started to flex his muscle. He led by more than three seconds at Lap 20 and five seconds three laps later, when second-place Matt Lofton got caught behind the car of Buster Graham. That allowed Canache (No. 35 Venezuela Tourism Toyota) to pass from fourth to second and let Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota) move around him.
Swindell advanced his lead to more than six seconds at Lap 27. At the same time, Poole passed teammate Ryan Reed (No. 15 JDRF Ford) to move into fifth place. Swindell drove around Mark Thompson to leave just 16 cars on the lead lap at Lap 34, while Poole had moved into fourth, 9.181 seconds back.
Spencer Gallagher experienced mechanical issues while running seventh on Lap 45 to bring out the race's second caution flag. Swindell saw his nine-second lead disappear with a trip to pit road, but his sizable advantage easily allowed him to exit first with fuel and four fresh tires. Kimmel improved to second off of pit road, with Canache, Chris Buescher (No. 17 Reliance Tool/BeavEx Ford), and Poole following.
Swindell led again at the Lap 51 green flag, but his progress was slowed when Thompson slid into the grass just two laps later and the caution flag flew again.
He got away clean at the Lap 56 restart and climbed to a three-second lead within 10 laps. Poole was making his own advances, passing Canache for third on Lap 63 and Kimmel for second six laps later. Swindell led Poole by 3.84 seconds at Lap 70, but Poole sliced that gap by more than a second within five laps. With 25 to go, Poole seemed to be making a charge.
Swindell kept the advantage, though. By Lap 80, he continued to lead by 2.62 seconds, the margin fluctuating as the two leaders weaved in and out of lapped cars.
Poole closed the gap to 1.202 second with 10 laps left; only the 10th-place car of Will Kimmel (No. 68 AccucareTX/Joliet Tilted Kilt Ford) - one lap down - sat between him and Swindell. In the end, Swindell was too much, and he finished having led every lap for his first win. Frank Kimmel finished in third, about 18 seconds behind. Buescher finished fourth and kept the points lead over Poole with eight races to go. Reed earned his first top-five in the ARCA Racing Series.
Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 CGH Motorsports Chevrolet) was sixth and Canache finished seventh - another career best. Alex Bowman (No. 22 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Dodge) was eighth, edging Tim Andrews (No. 53 Van Dyke Recycling Solutions Dodge) and Will Kimmel in the top 10.
The race lasted just one hour, three minutes, and 47 seconds, finishing with an average speed of 141.103 mph to shatter the 2009 race record of 111.02 mph. The three caution flags slowed the field for just 11 laps.
The full race results are available here.
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis is the next stop for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. All on-track activity for the Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 will take place Friday, July 27. Two practices are scheduled, from 1:35-2:30 and 3-3:45. Menards Pole Qualifying will start at 5:30, setting the field for the 200-lap race at 9 p.m. ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring of all of the day's action, and SPEED will televise the 9 p.m. race live. The ARCA CRA Super Series will join the ARCA Racing Series at the track, giving fans in Indianapolis a double feature of ARCA divisions.
The ARCA Racing Series event will be the 13th of 20 this season.