Kimmel, Bowman Strong on Short Tracks in 2012
August 23, 2012 | 4:21 P.M. EST
Team Messina Rookie Challenge contender Alex Bowman is certainly learning how to win races, and it didn't take long. The Tucson, Ariz. driver won at Madison International Speedway in his ARCA debut last August.
Both championship-contending drivers will be returning for the Herr's Live Life with Flavor 200 at Madison Sunday afternoon, ready to test their short track skills on the half-mile oval.
Kimmel finished sixth in last year's race, and was not happy with the result. However, Kimmel has joined forces with ThorSport Racing for 2012, and has shown marked improvement in performance. In fact, the Clarksville, Ind. racer snapped a winless streak that stretched nearly four years when he dominated the ARCA race at Lucas Oil Raceway just last month. He followed that up with a win at Springfield three days ago. In addition, the nine-time ARCA champion is currently second in championship points, just 15 points from Chris Buescher's lead.
"We didn't run very well last year (at Madison), so I'm looking to redeem myself," Kimmel said.
"I'm just glad to be going to a short track. I think anytime you can run on a smaller track, the driver becomes more important. Horsepower and aero doesn't always make or break you.
"The way the track is shaped - longer straightaways and tighter corners - brakes will be a factor, so you've got to manage that. As for the track itself, I really like Madison. You can run side-by-side all the way around. The bottom lane is where everyone wants to be for the most part, but the top lane can work too; it's not a death sentence up there. As tight as the track is, you can definitely pass at Madison, which makes for great racing."
Bowman also found out that passing is possible at Madison, working his way through the field twice last year after pit stops and taking the lead for good on Lap 142 of the 200-lap race. Once out front and with very little brakes left, Bowman had to hold off Buescher in a heated battle to the checkered flag to earn the hard-fought victory.
"I can't say I expected to win there (at Madison) in my first start, but I wasn't too surprised either," Bowman said. "We had a really good car, and we had run really strong runs in the East Series last year."
Bowman, who has five wins overall on the ARCA tour - three this year at Salem, Winchester and Iowa - is currently fourth in championship points in the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge. Considering where his victories have come this year, short track racing has been his specialty.
"The biggest thing at Madison is having a car that turns. It's so tight there. We ran out of brakes last year racing our way back through the field. So we just backed the corner up getting in. We ran hot last year too and had to fill it with water, so we used up our car getting back to the front.
"The track snugged up when the sun went down, but we were able to stay pretty consistent throughout the race. We came in and got tires for the last run; that's what won that one."