Kimmel Looking for Eight at Springfield
SPRINGFIELD, IL (August 12, 2010)-Nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel threw a gorilla off his back when he broke a near four year losing streak at Lucas Oil Raceway Park on July 26. The victory threw him solidly into contention for an unprecedented tenth ARCA championship and the veteran could take another step toward that title if he can win a record eighth Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Sunday August 19. Kimmel will have to battle two ARCA youngsters fighting at the top of the point standings as well as a group of ARCA regulars, local standouts and dirt track ringers seeking a Springfield Mile victory.
Kimmel won the Allen Crowe 100 four straight times from 2000-03, again in 2005, 2007 and 2008 tying the late Dean Roper for most stock car victories at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Kimmel is the all-time lap leader in ARCA competition at Springfield with 614 circuits in front and Sunday looks to make his 21st consecutive start in the Allen Crowe 100. He is currently third in ARCA points just 70 out of the lead.
Young Chris Buescher of Texas leads the 2012 ARCA title romp by 15 over fellow youngster Brennan Poole of North Carolina heading into Springfield. Buescher assumed the point lead after a win at Berlin giving him a series high 3 wins in 2012 while Poole has 2 wins in 15 starts. Poole will be a rookie at the Illinois State Fair while Buescher was a surprise winner on the dirt in 2011 for the Roulo Racing Team out of Chicago.
Alex Bowman, Chad Hackenbracht, Matt Lofton, Tom Hessert, Ryan Reed, Spencer Gallagher and Nelson Canache make up the rest of the top ten in ARCA points to date. Hackenbracht recently won at Pocono while Hessert is a strong contender for victory on the dirt. His car owner is 1998 Allen Crowe 100 winner Ken Schrader and Hessert has extensive dirt track experience in USAC and ARCA, finishing third at Springfield in the 2010 Allen Crowe 100 and second to Chad McCumbee last year.
Dirt track “Ringers” come in the form of surprise entrants whose dirt track prowess make them an instant threat at Springfield. One such driver is returning to ARCA competition while the other is a Springfield rookie with a famous father who holds the all time speed record at the world’s fastest one mile dirt track. Canada’s Steve Arpin has two top five finishes in two starts at Springfield and is slated to return driving for Venturini Motorsports. Arpin won the race at DuQuoin in 2010. His teammate is rookie Kevin Swindell of Tennessee. Swindell has never competed on a one mile dirt track but his famous father Sammy has. The former World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion holds a world record of over 145 miles an hour for one lap on a one mile dirt oval, set in his sprint car at Springfield in June of 1998. Another dirt track ‘ringer’ is UMP standout Ryan Unzicker from El Paso teaming with Venturini and long time car owner Bill Hendren of Normal. Unzicker is joined on the entry list by UMP National Driving champion Rodney Melvin of Benton.
Springfield driver Kelly Kovski was the crew chief for Allgaier Motorsports and a local body shop manager. He returns to the Illinois State Fairgrounds with perhaps the best chance of any ‘local’ driver to capture the Allen Crowe 100 and just the second Springfield driver to win a major national championship race on the hometown mile since Justin Allgaier’s popular 2006 win. Kovski finished sixth at Springfield and fourth later at DuQuoin, leading several circuits at DuQuoin over Labor Day. Centralia’s Joe Cooksey returns to Springfield as a teammate to Ron Cox in the Hixson Motorsports stable. Always a threat on the dirt Cooksey has two third place finishes on the Illinois State Fair mile and has completed 1192 miles in 13 starts. Galesburg’s A.J. Fike is expected to return pulling double duty over the weekend, running the Tony Bettenhausen 100 dirt car race Saturday and the Allen Crowe 100. Benton’s Shane Cockrum is also entered for double duty over the weekend as well taking a seat for the Allen Crowe 100 in one of Brad Hills’ Fords.
Other local drivers entered include Mark Littleton of Arenzville, Joseph Hughes of Springfield, veteran Dale Shearer of Chillicothe, Missouri and young Austin Rettig of Sikeston, Missouri.
ARCA veteran Darrell Basham has recovered from the devastating tornado that leveled his hometown of Henryville, Indiana and he could return for his 13th Allen Crowe 100 start as could the ageless James Hylton who at 77 might extend his record as the oldest driver ever in competition at the Illinois State Fair.
The event is named for Springfield racing driver Allen Crowe who perished in a sprint car accident in Ohio in June of 1963. Originally from York, Illinois Crowe became a legend in his short career in the Midwest winning numerous features at tracks such as Champaign, Macon, Lincoln and of course, the Springfield Speedway. His exploits eventually earned him a ride in championship cars including starts in the 1962 and 1963 Indianapolis 500 mile races. After his passing the fair board named the event in his honor.
NASCAR legend Curtis Turner won the first Allen Crowe 100 in 1963, NASCAR legend Bobby Isaac the third in 1965 as the Crowe 100 joined the entertainment lineup at the Illinois State Fair. In the last 50 years Hall of Famers Norm Nelson, Roger McCluskey, Butch Hartman, Ramo Stott and A.J. Foyt won Crowe Memorial stock car races under the United States Auto Club Sanction. ARCA stepped in as the sanctioning body in 1983 and was present for the final few of Dean Roper’s record seven stock car wins on the Springfield Mile, as well as victories posted by Bobby Bowsher, Bob Brevak, Bob Hill and all seven of Kimmel’s wins in the Allen Crowe 100.
Practice for the first of two dirt events for the full bodied stock cars begins at 9 a.m. Sunday. Pole qualifying is slated for 11 with the flying start of the 50th Allen Crowe 100 taking place at 1 p.m.