A Toyota Tops a Record Field, Schrader, Rusty, A Bunch of Kimmels and More
SCHRADER LOGS SOME ARCA LAPS
Ken Schrader opened the open test session Friday
morning at Daytona Int’l Speedway in the Wood Brothers
-prepared Ford driven for the remainder of the test by
Eddie Wood and Gary Cogswell, as well as many of the
Wood Brothers’ NASCAR Busch Series team crew
members, also were on hand to support Keven’s effort.
Schrader, who is scheduled to drive in three 2007 ARCA
RE/MAX Series races with sponsorship from Federated
Auto Parts, was off to East Bay Raceway near Tampa
for a late model race
GERHART BRINGS BATTERY OF RACECARS TO TEST
Bobby Gerhart brought the biggest fleet to Daytona with 5 cars in his stable with 5 different drivers. Gerhart, a record 4-time Daytona ARCA 200 winner, is chasing an unprecedented 5th Daytona crown this February.
"I was hoping to run a 49.70 today," said the Lebanon, Pennsylvania veteran. "The car felt good, but we lost 1.3 seconds from last years pole with the plate change from last year. We'll keep working hard on the Lucas Oil Chevrolet to get the car a little better for Febuary."
Brad Coleman, an ARCA RE/MAX Series winner at Kentucky in '06," took his first laps around the historic 2.5-mile superspeedway. "I cannot believe how bumpy it was, but fun," said Coleman. "These were my first laps at Daytona and I am looking forward to more. Running three wide here could be exciting."
Series veteran AJ Henriksen is slated to drive Gerhart's #7 Monte Carlo in the race at Daytona. "We fought a serious vibration all day Friday," said Henriksen. "Finally fixed the car about 4:30 pm when we found a faulty shock. We'll be faster now. I enjoyed shaking down Tony Marks and Eric Holmes cars in the morning."
Tony Marks, another of Gerhart's drivers, is a late model driver from Ohio. "I've waited to run here for 20 years," said Marks. "What a thrill, It was different than anything I have ever experienced. I am looking forward to getting back in the car tomorrow."
Eric Holmes, the '06 NASCAR Grand National West champion, was the fifth driver in Gerhart's stable. "I was surprised how bumpy the track was," said Holmes. "I'm here for the experience and would love to compete here in the future. The car was a little tight early, but the crew fixed that. I am looking forward to some quality runs tomorrow."
KIMMEL CLAN PUTS THREE ON TRACK
In 54 consecutive years of ARCA RE/MAX Series racing, the renowned national tour has taken its share of twists and turns with a variety of interesting personalities and poignant story lines.
One such name forever synonymous with the ARCA story is Kimmel. It started with three-time series winner Bill Kimmel, Sr. before his son Frank Kimmel stepped up with an unprecedented eight ARCA RE/MAX Series national titles for the record books.
Now, make way for the third generation of Kimmel racers, two of which took their first laps Sunday afternoon around Daytona Int’l Speedway aboard Frank’s no. 46 Ford Fusion.
Frankie Kimmel, son of Frank Kimmel, went out in the Sunday morning session and turned an impressive lap of 49.887 seconds, an average speed of 180.408 mph. The mark settled in at 8th on the speed charts among 50 drivers who made morning attempts.
Then Will Kimmel, son of Bill Kimmel, Jr. (Frank Kimmel’s brother and crew chief), lowered the mark even more with a lap of 49.804, an average speed of 180.708 mph.
But it was still father Frank who, in the same car, went the fastest – 181.309 mph, third overall in the morning session.
Ken Schrader (Daytona Int'l Speedway Photo)
Brad Coleman talks with Bill Gerhart after one of his runs. (51 Photo)
“Bill and I both have sons that are racing and are doing good in their respective classes,” said Frank Kimmel. We had to be down here for the PRI Show (in Orlando) so we knew we were going to be free on Sunday and brought the car over. I shook it down and made sure everything was running good on it, and then we let the boys go out.”
In fact, the car the Kimmels’ tested was the same car that served as the show car in the ARCA booth at the PRI show over the weekend, which is why the Kimmel crew didn’t show up to the three-day Daytona test until Sunday.
“It knocks the edge off if they (Frankie and Will) get fortunate enough to come here and race. They can say they’ve been here; in a controlled situation, it was a good safe deal for them.
“But it was a really tough deal for me. I knew I’d be nervous….putting my son and nephew in the car, but I didn’t know I’d be that nervous. They were all making fun of me; but what a deal to be able to give them the opportunity to drive a good car at Daytona.
“I was definitely more nervous than I thought I’d be. But we’re very proud of both; they did a great job. Will actually went out and went just a little quicker than Frankie. Then Frankie wanted to go back out and see if he could beat it. We put an end to that in a hurry; we’re not starting that.
“Frankie’s got very few laps in a stock car. He’s got a lot of seat-time in the Mini-Cup, but not in a full-blown stock car. He did an excellent job. His biggest chore was getting out of the pits; he’s never raced a car with a clutch before.”
“It was pretty fun,” said Frankie Kimmel. “It felt like my Mini-Cup car. It didn’t feel like you were going too fast until you looked at the fence and you have the fence flying by and then you realize you’re running 180 mph out there.”
Will Kimmel had a little different take. “I can’t believe how narrow the place is,” said Will Kimmel. “I had a great time and I’m glad my uncle and dad let me do this. This is a fun place. The speed sensation is awesome.”
Frank Kimmel will be back at DIS in February chasing that elusive first Daytona ARCA 200 win at “The World Center of Racing”. He’s planning on using the same car that he won with at Talladega Superspeedway in the fall.
“We think we can come here and be strong,” Kimmel said. “It’s just a matter of luck and being at the right place at the right time.”
TOYOTA TOPS THE SPEED CHARTS
A record 75 drivers tested during the three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series test, but it was open-wheeler Josh Wise, in a Toyota, who may have turned the most heads.
Toyota’s first stock car test at Daytona International Speedway proved successful. Wise and the No. 22 Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota Camry were the fastest of the entire three-day test with a lap of 181.925 mph, turned in Saturday’s session.
The ARCA RE/MAX Series test session marked the first time that a Toyota stock car has turned laps at DIS. For Speedweeks 2007, Toyota will kick off its first year competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. But the renowned automaker will debut in the ARCA RE/MAX Series at DIS.
The No. 22 Eddie Sharp Racing team, which will compete in the Feb. 10 ARCA 200 with Wise, has an alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing, which will field three Toyotas in the NEXTEL Cup Series in 2007.
“They got to try a lot of things,” said Wise, the ’06 USAC National Sprint Car Series champion and the ’06
Belleville Midget Nationals champion. “We got to shake down the Toyota engine and car. It was successful. We got to weed out a lot of things and it was good for me to come here and get some laps.”
RUSTY RIDES AGAIN - SORT OF
For the first time since the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona,
Rusty Wallace was turning laps in a racecar at Daytona
International Speedway. Wallace visited Daytona
International Speedway to assist his son Steve during the
final day of ARCA RE/MAX Series testing.
Steve Wallace will compete for Rusty Wallace Inc. in a full
NASCAR Busch Series schedule in 2007 and will also
race in the Feb. 10 ARCA 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series
“He hasn’t been to Daytona,” the 1989 NASCAR champion
said of his son Steve. “He’s been flying everywhere else
we’ve taken him but I just want to make sure when he
comes down here he has a good handling car.
"I got in the car. It ran real good, the motor ran good but it
drove a little too free for me. I told Steve, ‘In order to race
this thing, you’re going to have to tighten this thing up. You only have a couple hours of practice, go out there and make these changes I suggest and tell me what it does.’
“To him, if feels pretty good but to me it needs to be a little bit tighter to be stable in a long run. That’s just the fatherly advice I’m giving him.”
Wallace, who has retired as a driver to serve as an analyst for ABC/ESPN’s racing coverage, hopes his advice can be helpful.
“I know what works here and what doesn’t work here,” Wallace said. “When I got in the car, it came right back to me. It was like I just got out of it yesterday. It didn’t feel any different. They made changes and now he’s going back out. We’ll see what he says.”
GREEN AND HENDRICK GO QUICK ON SUNDAY
David Green, the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion and two-time Busch Series runner-up, and Hendrick Motorsports posted the fastest speed on Sunday with a lap of 181.796 mph in the No. 87 Chevrolet.
Green, who hopes to have his plans for 2007 finalized soon, does research and development work for Hendrick Motorsports, winner of the past two Daytona 500s with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
The Kimmel family, from left to right, eight-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel, his son Frankie Kimmel, Will Kimmel and crew chief Bill Kimmel. (DIS Photo)
For most of the weekend, Kimmel's #46 sat on display at the PRI show. (51 Photo)
Josh Wise (DIS Photo)
Steve Wallace (51 Photo)
The purpose of the test was to create a baseline on an ARCA car for a soon-to-be-announced development driver. Green didn’t know whom the driver was going to be and said the car would most likely race in an ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway.
“We’re trying to establish a starting point for this kid when they go forward with that program,” Green said. “It’s fun to come test with these guys being at the moment unemployed. We’re working on some stuff for next year. Hopefully we’ll have some answers this week on our future for ’07 in the Busch Series.
“Rick (Hendrick) is letting me do a lot of testing for all of his teams and the Car of Tomorrow has been a lot of fun to test. We’ve got a few more on the schedule. Kyle (Busch) is off in Hawaii. Maybe that’s why he took his vacation this time but that’s OK because I had a ball. It’s always fun to hang out with Alan (Gustafson) and the 5 team.”
Overall ARCA RE/MAX Series Official Test Speeds
Daytona Int'l Speedway, Daytona Beach FL
December 15-17, 2006
Pos.No.NameBest Lap timeSpeedMake
1646Frankie Kimmel 49.887180.408Ford
David Green debriefs after a test run. (DIS Photo)