TOLEDO, Ohio (March 19, 2017) -- Once the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards gets to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville for the Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation April 8, it's game on for the tour's 65th consecutive season. Salem and Talladega will soon follow.
And for most race teams since the Daytona opener, it's already been 'game on' to get ready for what's coming. Kimmel Racing has been busy flip-flopping back and forth, to and fro with Nashville, Salem and Talladega cars.
"We're okay...just been busy trying to get Nick Higdon's Nashville car done," said Will Kimmel.
But that's only a piece of the action inside Kimmel Racing's Clarksville, Indiana race shop.
"Nick's car's about done...getting ready to go over on the pull-down. At the same time our Talladega car is getting ready to go on the set-up plate. Salem car's ready to go on the pull-down. The way last year went, we need to get ahead of it. We're getting there."
Talladega also means getting two superspeedway cars ready, one for Ricky Sanders to drive and the other for Kimmel.
"Ricky's going to Talladega first and foremost because he got through Daytona. It helped that he finished 7th."
Outside of the Talladega cars, the final superspeedway race for the steel cars, everything coming out of Kimmel Racing in 2017 will be the newer composite cars.
"All the cars this year should be composites. The Nashville car is the same car we raced at Kansas, and he's (Higdon) got a brand new car for Pocono...he's running 10 races this year. The only intermediate track I'm running is Chicagoland. I'll be in the car at Salem and Talladega, but after that my next one probably won't be till the dirt."
Kimmel of course wishes he could say that he'd be driving the 69 car everywhere.
"We gotta keep the doors open. We need to look at the bigger picture. In that scenario, I've got to cut some races."
That said, Kimmel Racing plans to have the 69 car everywhere on tour; it just won't always have Kimmel in the driver's seat.
"That's okay...anything to keep racing. Honestly, Nick's (Higdon) one of the best I've ever worked with. He wants to learn as much as he can to be ready for these races. He wants to be told what and how to do things, and he doesn't care how you tell him...it's pretty cool."
The next opportunity for Higdon to learn will be a test session at Nashville this coming week.
"We're going to test (at Nashville) with Nick Thursday. We're going to do a little bit of everything...getting him up to speed on the track, getting through the gears, in and out of the pits...all that."
When Kimmel isn't in the shop, he's adjusting to family life, which includes the addition of his son who came into the world just six weeks ago. He wife Erica, who teaches second grade, is taking time away from her career to be with her son before she returns to school in May.
"It's been fun...a lot harder on Erica I'm sure. I don't see him 90 percent of the time he's crying. I try to help when I'm home, but I don't see all that. It's pretty cool. I like going home and seeing him. It's different that's for sure, and not as bad as some told me. He's more alert now and moving around more...it's a lot of fun."
Outside of the family fun, it's always time to get back to the shop. If it's not race cars he's working on, take your pick on the old classics.
"The Camaro was my uncle's car in '74. He sold it in '77 and got it back in '83. Dad rebuilt the motor. Drove it till 2006, then it sat till 2014. We bought it with our wedding money and I've been tinkering with it."
This year's Music City 200 will also include the North-South Shootout with the Southern Super Series and the ARCA CRA Super Series combo race. Last year, CRA got added to the Super Late Model mix to create the North-South shootout. The field saw a jump to 35 cars featuring some of the best short track racers in the country, with Donnie Wilson winning the top prize over Steven Wallace.
Super Late Models have a practice session Friday night, April 7 from 4-7 p.m. Then on Saturday, April 8, North-South Shootout practice will begin at 12 noon, with North-South Shootout qualifying at 3. General Tire Pole Qualifying for the ARCA Racing Series is at 4:15, with racing action following at 5:45 with the North-South Shootout presented by Team Construction 100. Race fans will be treated to the ARCA Racing Series Music City 200 grand finale at 8. The Music City 200 will be aired on MAVTV.
Discounted presale tickets for the event are available for $25, a $5 discount off raceday ticket prices. They are available by calling the event promoters Track Enterprises at 615-470-5214 or 217-764-3200.