Winchester On The Way
May 3, 2007 | 11:02 A.M. EST
Last year's race was thrilling from start to finish and had more story angles, twists and turns than Aesop's Fables. From Frank Kimmel running out of gas to his last-lap pass for the win, the ARCA RE/MAX Series show at Winchester is a must-see by any and all standards.
And the weekend weather forecast could not be better - sunny and 72 for Saturday and Sunday. Perfect..... and so will be the spectacle of a full field of ARCA RE/MAX Series machines bumping and grinding away as they battle for supremacy on the storied Winchester oval.
Before the first engine even fires, the story angles heading in could not be more invigorating. It starts with Springfield, Illinois Justin Allgaier, who's got heads turning in 2007 as the point leader after five events on the 23-race tour. Allgaier, after a solid eighth place finish at Kansas, leads Kimmel by 95 points.
"I know it's probably too early to get excited over points, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it," said Allgaier, who has one ARCA RE/MAX Series victory to his credit at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile-dirt in 2006. "Our team has really stepped up this year. I'm learning patience in the car, and I think that's had a big effect on our overall effort. A bad day for us last year was a 35th finishing position. This year, we're taking our bad days and turning them into top-10s.
"You know, Frank Kimmel's such a legend in this sport, and it's an honor to be racing and competing with him at this level. I have the world of respect for him, which makes the whole thing that much more special."
Kimmel is arguably in the struggle-mode, at least for Kimmel standards. Nonetheless, he's still second in points headed to Winchester, and still very much in the game. The 45-year-old Clarksville, Indiana second-generation driver finished a disappointing 15th most recently at Kansas Speedway. And that was on the heels of an even more disappointing 22nd place finish at his hometown Salem Speedway the week before.
"We're still very encouraged," said Kimmel. "Yes, our luck has not been very good lately, but I've got to tell you, we're actually more prepared now than we've ever been, so this thing isn't over by a long shot. We want to win races, but more importantly, we're in it for the long haul, the points."
With 67 career victories (second all-time to Iggy Katona's 79) and eight ARCA RE/MAX Series titles to his credit, Kimmel is the leading authority on points, not to mention most everywhere else in this league.
"We tested at Winchester a couple weeks back. The test went extremely well. We're gunna be tough there; you can write that down."
Tough at Winchester for Kimmel is certainly not out of the question. Kimmel has more RE/MAX Series victories on the Winchester bullring than any other - 5 in all since 1996, including three consecutive in his last three attempts there.
Westby, Wisconsin driver Dexter Bean (left) has just moved to third in national championship points, only 20 markers away from Kimmel. Bean, who finished 10th at Kansas, finished a career-best second the week before at Salem.
Brewco Motorsports driver Phillip McGilton is currently holding down the fourth position in points. McGilton's consistency in 2007 has the Marion, Illinois driver just 10 points away from Bean.
Further back, newcomers' Justin South and Salem polesitter Michael McDowell are tied for fifth, 35 points away from fourth place McGilton.
Five-time Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart (former Winchester polesitter), Justin Marks, Bryan Silas and Patrick Sheltra fill out the remaining top-10 in points respectively.
That said, the 2007 season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in the series' 55-year history. Reminiscent of the 2006 season, the most competitive in series history, Scott Lagasse's victory at Kansas represented the fifth different winner in five events so far in 2007. In 2006, the series established a new record when 17 different winners went to victory lane in 23 events. In the last 31 events reaching back into 2005, there have been 25 different winners.
Double-header ARCA action will help fill the card this weekend at Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Indiana featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series 200 lap race on Sunday and the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series 100 lap race on Saturday. In addition, track promoters will mix in the CRA Sportsman and Street Stock divisions for a full weekend of racing on the historic, half-mile, high-banked oval. There will also be a party in the pavilion Saturday night featuring the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race from Richmond Int'l Raceway on the big screen.