Nine-time ARCA Racing Series presented by RE.MAX and Menards champion Frank Kimmel will be the first to tell you he's not the savviest road course racer in the business.
"Never considered myself a road racer, not by any stretch," said Kimmel.Â "I learn a lot every time I get on one; that's for sure. They're a lot of fun, but for an oval track guy, they're a handful."
Although Kimmel doesn't consider himself a road course guru, his road course record may suggest otherwise. In fact, in seven career road course starts - one was an IROC event - Kimmel, the self-described oval tracker, has never finished out of the top-10 throughout his road course career.
Kimmel's career-best road course finish came in his third careerÂ road course start on the streets of Des Moines, Iowa in 1994 where he finished second behind Scott Lagasse, Sr. with Jimmy Spencer trailing in third. Kimmel also finished third at Watkins Glen Int'l in 2001. At Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas, Kimmel finished seventh and ninth in races won by Darrell Waltrip and Ken Schrader. He also earned finishes of ninth and 10th at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2008 and 2009.
"Over the years we've run several different road courses, but when they announced that we were going to Palm Beach, I was really excited to have the opportunity to do it again. Because I'm not a road racer, we definitely strive to improve every time we race on a road course, but it's definitely a challenge."
Kimmel was also among those who tested at Palm Beach Int'l Raceway (PBIR) last week in preparation for the next event on tour - the Tire Kingdom 150 presented by ModSpace at PBIR February 26 and 27..
"I'm just really impressed with the whole facility," added Kimmel. "It's a really cool track; it's gunna be a lot of fun. I learned a lot (during the test). Anytime I go roadcourse racing, I learn a lot. I thought we had an excellent test overall. We put a set of tires on in the morning and stayed with them all day."
Kimmel, the consummate veteran, is also not afraid to seek advice where he believes advice is needed.
Last year when the series was headed to New Jersey (Motorsports Park) Kimmel called for reinforcement from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Speed, a veteran of Formula One.
"I called Scott (Speed) just to talk about strategy and to get some advice on shifting and basic road course skills that could help us out.Â Track time is so limited that being able to talk to Scott and discuss a few things in advance was a big help."
Kimmel Racing will unload a specially built road course car purchased from Roush Racing. The car finished second at New Jersey in 2008 with Colin Braun at the helm.
"I think when you go to these places with a predominantly oval racer, which Frank is, the main thing is to get out there and practice and make as many laps as possible," explained Crew Chief and brother Bill Kimmel Jr.Â "It's hard for Frank to give feedback when he's just trying to get comfortable out there, so that makes my job a bit harder than usual.Â Luckily, G-Force South helped us out with our transmission package.Â They've really been a big part of helping us work on a shifting package that should make our road course experience better overall, specifically for Frank to be able to make the up shifts and down shifts easier."
The Kingdom Tire 150 presented by ModSpace at Palm Beach Int'l Raceway is scheduled to roll off at 1:00 PM Saturday afternoon, February 27th. On-track activity begins on Friday, February 26th with practice from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM followed by Menards Pole Award Qualifying presented by Ansell at 4:00 PM.
The race will also be featured in live streaming audio at ARCAracing.com.
-Courtesy of ARCA Public Relations