NO SURPRISE… GERHART ON THE POLE AT DAYTONA presented by Advance Auto Parts
Kimmel, Passmore Don’t Qualify, Have To Fall Back On Provisionals by Jeremy Troiano
If you are a betting man, and you are betting on who might win the pole for the ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway, then it’s probably pretty safe that you put your money on Bobby Gerhart.
For the third-straight year, Gerhart won the pole for the Discount Advance Auto Parts 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Gerhart will lead the field to the green on Saturday, followed by Hendrick Motorsports development driver Blake Feese and Todd Kluever.
Kluever is one of several big guns that are at the track racing “one-off” races. Kluever, whose ride is a former Matt Kenseth Cup car, is at the track just hoping to get some more drafting experience leading up to his debut in the #50 Roush Craftsman Truck next weekend at Daytona.
And maybe, winning the pole so many years in a row would seem old? Not to Gerhart.
Bobby Gerhart won his third-straight ARCA pole at Daytona. (51 Photo)
It’s a pretty impressive feat, considering there were 60-plus cars at the track vying to make the field.
“It went as planned,” said Gerhart of his pole winning run. “We put three candidates (in cars) up to me to run here when we were working in December and we ended up going with the oldest one. I don’t know if it will be good in the race or not, but we’ve got another pole, which is great.”
Even more impressive of Gerhart’s run?
“All three poles (in a row) were within about a hundredth of a second… that is pretty impressive isn’t it?”
“This is still Daytona. This is still very important. I still get a charge coming through the gates in the dark in the tunnel. There is something about qualifying here that there is just a little magic around it. We struggled a lot here in the past. We’ve had a lot of long trips home to Pennsylvania with no one talking. A group of us put our feet down and decided that we were going to come back and be better and we have been better.”
However, Gerhart’s third straight-pole wasn’t the only story of the day. Nor was it the biggest story.
Bobby Gerhart (Bob Milner Photo)
The biggest story came when looking at the starting lineup and seeing defending ARCA Series Champion Frank Kimmel starting 41st, utilizing a provisional.
Kimmel was one of 10 teams that was not allowed to qualify after failing to get through pre-qualifying tech inspection in time. ARCA rules state that tech will close an hour after the first car takes a qualifying run.
Kimmel, along with Christi Passmore, Brandon Knupp, Brad Smith, Kertus Davis, Roger Williams, Dicky Williams, Tim Turner, and Darrell Basham, didn’t get a chance to qualify.
“It comes down to the fact that we didn’t get through tech in time and didn’t get out to qualify,” said Kimmel, who will start shotgun on the field. “An hour after qualifying starts, the tech line will be stopped. It’s a relatively new rule. As it turned out, we were a little bit late. We had a few issues with the car and dind’t get through there in time.
They stopped and brought us back. There ought to be some way of doing it differently, not only for us, but for probably 15 other cars. Not to even get a chance to participate is pretty bad.”
Knupp’s day was eventful for more reasons than just not getting a chance to qualifying, and subsequently not making the show because he had no provisional.
“We came in today and found that the curtain that was covering our garage area had been opened. The car cover was off of the car. The deck lid was un-pinned. A bucket of gear oil was tipped on the ground,” said Knupp.
Bill Kimmel (right), Frank's crew chief, argues with a ARCA official following the call that was made to not allow Frank to qualify on Friday.
“Today, we were just a little too far behind. We were on the scales, but they said that (tech) was over. They cut us off.
“It’s a big disadvantage. You are going to be back in the back, where if something happens, it is going to be hard to miss it. We probably had a top five car for qualifying. Instead of starting up there where you can see the pace car, you get to see everyone else.”
Kimmel’s crew chief, Bill Kimmel, was visibly livid with the call.
“I thought we were through tech,” said Bill. “I knew it was close on time. We were hustling to get through. We were actually on pit road. The nose of the car was on pit road.
“We went to the ARCA official and told them what happened. We proceeded to go through fuel cell and the whole car to make sure nothing was tampered with. We get in the tech line, but apparently didn’t make it in time.
“They had a optional, and I repeat optional, crew chiefs meeting saying that the tech line would close at a certain time. It’s just a bad deal all around.”
The team will still going through the car and didn’t know what had been tampered with.
“The fuel didn’t smell right and didn’t have the same texture that it normally would have. The guys are still going through the rest of the car. I was pretty upset, so I just stepped away and let the guys look the car over.”
Christi Passmore was one of those left standing around after their cars were late for tech.
Feese’s second starting-spot might bode well for him.
“Kyle(Busch) ran this car last year here at Daytona, qualified second and won,” said Feese. I ran this same car at Talladega (at the end of the last year), qualified second and won the race. I guess that does me well for tomorrow.”
Kluever, a Roush Racing Development Driver who will pilot the #50 Craftsman Truck this year, was surprised to qualify as well as he did.
“I didn’t expect this because we were eighth in single car runs yesterday,” said Kluever. “I didn’t expect much better. I found out my crew chief was holding me back yesterday. We had a good qualifying run, which is ironic, because I don’t normally qualify well.”
Tim Steele, Mike Gurity, Keith Murt, JJ Yeley and Walt Brannen rounded out the top-ten qualifiers.