“The car ran great and handled really good all day. We thought that after the first stop, we had something. The car really, really awesome then. I passed the 9 (Joey Miller) and ran down the leaders and was really cruising. We were running three- or fourth-tenths faster than anyone then ‘boom.’ Heading down the backstretch I told the guys we just lost a cylinder.”
Kimmel led for four laps in the early stages of the race.
“We were able to pick up some very valuable positions that moved us into the lead in points and it’s time to move on.”
POLE SITTER HAS EDUCATIONAL DAY
ARCA LEFTOVERS: NASHVILLEby Jeremy Troiano
Solid Runs, Tempers, Accidents, Mechanical Problems & More
WENT TO A FIGHT AND AN ARCA RACE BROKE OUT
Tempers and emotions running on high. It isn’t something really new in the world of motorsports. There are always going to accidents and there are always going to be differing opinions as to why some of those accidents happen. But not too often do you see an all-out slugfest.
That is what nearly happened in the garage area in Nashville on Saturday between the teams of Bill Eversole and TJ Bell.
“I don’t know what was up with his crew chief sucker punching me,” said Eversole, who had a small cut below his eye after the incident. “What’s up with that? I just went over there to talk to him and he just hauled off and hit me. He jacked me in the eye and then hit my wife. That is a class act there, isn’t it? I thought they had more class than that.”
Order was eventually restored and Eversole and Bell talked.
“I don’t know what happened out there,” added Eversole. “I knew it was going to be a little problem. I had my line. My spotter said that there was a car coming, but I was already in the line. I don’t know. If I pinched him or what, I don’t know. I don’t know what the TV cameras will show. I don’t’ know if it was his fault or mine.
One of TJ Bell's crew members is restrained by ARCA officials after punched driver Bill Eversole in the garage area. (51 Photos)
“I was coming back through the field and I got underneath the 08 car and he turned down on us,” said Bell. “Unfortunately, it took out two good race cars. After that, a lot of stuff broke loose in the pits and in the garage. It’s a shame to see, especially in a sport like this, people trying to hurt other people. I didn’t mean anything by getting into him. I was just trying to make a pass. I was to his door, so he should have just let me go.
“It’s a shame because of all the hard work this team did using a backup car that I had never sat in before. I only had one lap in it during qualifying. Early in the race, I just put in my mind that It was my car and that I’d been in it before. I didn’t want to stay in the back very long. I wanted what did happen not to happen. I wanted to go forward as quick as possible.”
Ironically, up until the Nashville race, it was Bell who drove the #08 for Wells. However, following Daytona, Bell was let go after a disagreement betweent the two and Eversole replaced him in the car.
Eversole finished 38th, Bell finished 39th.
A WEEKEND FOR USING OTHER PEOPLE’S RACECARS
As we’ve already documented here and in other stories, there was a lot of bent sheet metal in the ARCA garage area all weekend long in Nashville. There were numerous cars that hit the wall in practice and qualifying. There was also a fair share of incidents in the race.
However, all of the practice and qualifying mishaps led to several drivers that had just one-car in their trailers to have to go to other teams to find backups just to try and make the race.
Eversole (left) and one of his crew members walk away from the situation.
“He was bound to take me out anyway though. That is what the rumor has it. I’m going by what the rumor says. He says he didn’t mean to and maybe he didn’t. It is a long season though to have that kind of animosity. I told him I don’t know what happened because we’ve been clean all of these years. If I pinched him, then I made the mistake and I’ll admit to it. If he did, then he should admit to it..
“It’s very disappointing,” said Eversole’s co-owner Bill Wells. “The most difficult part of this business is having to suffer for other peoples impatience. It was early in the race and there was no reason to have to get hit from behind.”
For Bell, he viewed it as a racing incident.
Richardson qualified the car 11th and finished 14th.
"We knew that going into the race, we'd have to take it easy and get a feel for the car. In qualifying, the track was cool and had a lot of grip. Come out here today and the track is a little more slippery, so we just dropped back and let some people get some spots and wreck themselves out."
"I'm happy for my crew and everything they had to go through. My crew did a lot of work this weekend. They only had 24 hours or less to get this car ready, so it was a good deal. Good weekend, but a wild one."
Both TJ Bell and Walt Brannen had to go to other teams for backup cars following incidents on Friday. Bell wrecked in practice when a tire went flat, while Brannen got into the wall in qualifying. Unfortunately, both drivers were involved in a lap 21 accident on Saturday that ended their day.
"A yellow car went to the bottom, so I went high and then some, for lack of a better word, moron came flying up from behind, so I had to duck down to miss him, but I couldn’t miss the yellow car. You wanna get mad at everyone out there, but I’m past getting mad at anyone now.
"I don’t get it. We just need a little bit of luck."
BROKEN CAR? SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH
You know you’ve got it good when you can take a car running on just seven cylinders and finish seventh with it and also take over the series point lead.
You know you’ve got it good when you are Frank Kimmel.
"We think we developed a misfire in the ignition system and we ran the last 80 laps on seven cylinders,” said Kimmel. “It would kind of come and go. It could be electric, but we just don’t know. “We’ll just have to take it back and look it over and see.
Robert Richardson's car (#33) looked just like Mark Gibson's car... cause it was. (Erik Darnell Photo)
Three prominent drivers all had to do this, with two of them wrecking again and another coming home with a career-best performance.
Robert Richardson's team had to look around the garage for another car to drive following a incident in practice. Their help came from Mark Gibson, who they had a racing incident with at Daytona.
"Mark Gibson was nice enough to loan me his car, especially after we got into it together at Daytona," said Richardson. "I guess that kind of neutralizes that incident. He helped me out for this weekend. It was a damn good car. It is a DEI car and has a DEI motor. It got us a top-15 finish, which is the best finish we've ever had.”
"M&L Motorsports really helped us out this weekend," said Bell. “They are a very good team and they have very good equipment. The car they gave us was just awesome. We had no practice time with it and I had to make a bonsai, one-lap qualifying run. I was very conservative in qualifying but that car was just awesome."
The Jeff McClure Motorsports team that Bell drivers for had little time to make any changes to the car's chassis. The first real tweaking of the car's handling happened on pit road during the race's first caution.
"Our engine builder did a little tuning for us on the M&L motor before we raced. Other than that, the car was
pretty much the way they gave it to us. We came into the pits to make some really small chassis changes. The stop went great and I was ready to get to the front.”
“If we could have ran the whole race, we might have been able to run up there with (ML Motorsports regular driver Chad Blount).”
Initially, Brannen’s team thought they could get his primary car fixed, but they elected to go to a backup for Saturday's race, forgoing their 17th-place starting spot to start at the tail of the field. They got their car from the Hagans Racing team.
Eversole and Bell were involved in a mix-up on lap 21 in Saturday’s race. Both drivers’ cars slammed against the turn two wall, ending each's race early. However, right away, it was evident that the two drivers were not happy with each other. Eversole climbed from his car and promptly shot Bell the middle finger, then proceeded to walk to Bell’s car to voice his displeasure with the defending Rookie of the Year. But that wasn’t the end of things.
On pitroad, a couple of Eversole’s crew members confronted some of Bell’s crew members. Then, in the garage area, all hell broke loose.
When Eversole returned from the care center, he approached one of Bell’s crew members. Right away, that crew member came out swinging. A wild series of events followed between the teams, eventually to be broke up by ARCA officials and track security personnel.
"Know why I wrecked the primary car?" said Brannen on Saturday morning, trying to keep a good attitude about the whole situation. "Because I knew I'd need a red car for my new sponsor FastWax."
However, the red #65 didn't bring Brannen much more luck.
"We went out there and at first, we didn’t have any radio contact," added Brannen. "Then, I go out and in the first corner, I hit the brakes and the RPMs are going right up. The throttle was sticking. So I drove a few laps with the throttle sticking just letting the car coast off in there. So we came in and fixed that and went back out and get caught up in something.
Watching the first few laps of Saturday’s race, you would have never of guessed that those first few laps were the race polesitter’s first competitive laps in a stock car.
Erin Crocker became just the third female to win an ARCA Re/Max Series pole and did it behind the wheel of a Ray Evernham Dodge. She then proceeded to jump out front and lead the race’s first 28 laps. She had an eventful day, spinning through the grass at one point, but came back to finish 12th.
“I’m happy with the results,” said Croker. “On an educational scale, I learned a lot today, so I’m happy about that.
“I wasn’t exactly patient when I saw the leaders and I made it three-wide. I just got underneath someone and the car got a little bit loose and it just came out from underneath me. I was used to that feeling. Next time I’ll learn that there are a lot of laps left and I’ll be a little more patient.
“It was good to run some laps out front. I learned more running in the back. You don’t learn a lot running by yourself out front. It was interesting coming through the field.”
WEAVER HAS CAREER WEEKEND
Ken Weaver had a big weekend in Nashville. He started a career-best and surprising second and finished a solid sixth. Now, Weaver sits third in the championship point standings.
“We had a fantastic race car from the time we came off the trailer in Nashville,” said Weaver. “Our qualifying lap really showed what we had and I knew that we would have a strong race car if we could stay out of trouble. This'll give us a lot of momentum heading to the short track at Salem. We led a lap, earned some points by qualifying outside front row, and moved way up in points. All in all, we had a very successful weekend."
Weaver was able to remain in the top five and top 10 through much of the event until an error late in the race would place him at the back of the field for a restart. During the final pit stop of the race, Weaver’s team got him off pit road first, but as he moved back onto the racing surface he failed to blend onto the track from the access road, which sent him to the rear of the field in 21st position with less than 30 laps remaining in the race.
“The pit crew did a great job getting me more positions on pit road and I hated that my mistake with the blend line on that last pit stop cost us a chance at battling with the top two for the win, but overall this was a really strong weekend for us.”
BOBBY GERHART’S RUN SHORT LIVED
Look at the final results from Daytona, you’ll see Bobby Gerhart’s name right at the very top; the winner.
TJ Bell (#48) goes three-wide early in the race.
Brannen suffered through two accidents during the Nashville weekend.
Frank Kimmel's crew got his car working well before mechanical problems took their toll.
Erin Crocker (#98) and Ken Weaver (#20) led the field to the green on Saturday. (Darnell Photo)
Look at the final results from Nashvillle, you’ll see Bobby Gerhart’s name right at the very bottom; the last-place finisher.
Gerhart blew a right front tire and smashed into the wall just nine laps into Sunday’s race, ending his day early.
“It appears that we just blew a right front tire,” said Gerhart. “We were just settling in early in the race. I had just gotten on the radio and said that we were in good shape. I was rolling into the corner and using no brake. I gott back on the when the right front tire just completely exploded.
“What a blessing to have these SAFER barriers. It was the hardest hit that I ever had and everything did it’s job.”
JARRETT TOP-10 IN DEBUT IN #25
Just weeks ago, Jason Jarrett was still rideless in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Now, he’s got his 58th career top-10 finish.
Jarrett made his first start as the substitute driver for Billy Venturini behind the wheel of the family’s #25 machine. Jarrett finished ninth.
“I’m happy about the run,” said Jarrett. “I know a lot of people wouldn’t normally be happy with ninth, but if you look back at it a week or two ago, I didn’t even know I’d be in this car. We didn’t come to the test here. I just got fitted in car this a few weeks ago.
Bobby Gerhart's car came to a stop in the infield after slamming into the outside wall.
“I knew the team, but I didn’t know them personally. So the last two weeks has been going to the shop and going to lunch with them. Some of them, I just met yesterday.
“I don’t know if anyone had any doubts about me coming into this deal, all I know is that this is a good fit and I’m really happy to have this opportunity. I hope to continue to do a good for our sponsors, Billy, Bill (Venturini) and the rest of the team.
“I drove 113 good laps and 1 bad one. I started fifth on the final restart and probably should have finished there but I got a little anxious entering turn one and the 96 car got inside me. Just couldn’t make it up with some fast cars behind me, it just killed any momentum I had.”
PASSMORE HAS SHORT DAY
Christi Passmore, who was certainly overshadowed on Saturday thanks to another female driver in the field, suffered some tough luck race day. She fought an ill-handling race car and coming home 37th after getting into the wall on lap 38 when a left rear tire went down.
“This just wasn’t our weekend, the car ended up really fast,” said a disappointed Passmore after the race, the second in this year’s ARCA RE/MAX Series. “I’m looking forward to Salem, it’s probably my favorite short track.”
“SUPER MARIO” COMES HOME THIRD
Jason Jarrett (left) is the sub driver for Billy Venturini (right) while he recovers from injuries he suffered at Daytona.
“Super Mario” Gosselin had a great run on Saturday, coming home third despite running second when the green and white flew.
“Our car didn’t go good on short runs,” said Gosselin. “On every restart we struggled. We’d get passed by three or four cars, then we’d come back and get them. We were coming there at the end. I don’t know if we could have passed them or not, but we could have caught him for sure. Oh well. I didn’t need those last cautions. They didn’t help me any. Oh well. Third place. We’ll make it better for next time.”
BIG IMPROVEMENT FOR COOKSEY
Joe Cooksey was looking to improve on his Daytona disappointment when he was one of several cars caught in a wild crash on the backstretch.
The team had hoped to just get a top-20 run in Nashville and get the season turned in the right direction. They did just that, finishing 18th, an improvement of 20 places from his starting position.
“You know, the car felt good all day, we are just a little short under the hood on these big tracks,” said Cooksey. “With a little more horsepower, we would really be able to run with these guys, but we would have to have some help to get it, because horsepower costs money. We have Salem next, so we’ll head over to Indiana and see if we can’t give ‘em a run for their money. We have a strong short track program, and three of the next four races are short tracks, so I am optimistic about our chances the next few weeks.”
GOOD WEEKEND FOR KNUPP
Joey Miller (#9) passed Mario Gosselin (#12) on the last lap for second. (Darnell Photo)
Despite an engine change and no practice laps on Friday, Brandon Knupp qualified a respectable 15th at Nashville Superspeedway. It got even better on Saturday when Knupp ultimately steered his family-owned Ford to a career-best superspeedway finish of fifth.
"I couldn't be happier; this was a real feather in our hats,” said Knupp. “We all worked our tails off to get this fifth-place finish and the hard work and long hours really paid off."
"I couldn't have done it without my team, my family and my crew chief; we really all pulled together and earned
this. After Daytona I was a little uncertain about things, but this just really makes our future a little brighter. I think we opened some eyes here today and served notice that we're the real deal and we're looking forward to Salem; bring it on."
LONG WEEKEND GETS LONGER FOR SMITH
After crashing in qualifying on Friday and having to start Saturday’s race at the back of the pack, the chances that the weekend could get worse for GR Smith seemed pretty slim.
Knupp (#96) ran a solid, smart race.
"Maybe this is good, maybe it's a blessing in disguise. Coming up through the field from the back can get you noticed and get you some recognition."
Transmission problems would force Smith out of the race after just 48 laps. He would finish 35th.
“At one point we were only using third and fourth gear. Once we came in and tried to adjust the car but couldn’t get into fourth on the restart. That dropped us way back. It sounded like fireworks in the transmission. At the end it wouldn't go into any gear.
“It was a frustrating day to be sure, to have a mechanical failure, but I’m looking forward to the next race and to be able to show what I can really do.”