James Kimbrough couldn’t have envisioned a more perfect start to his Pro Late Model racing career.
The teenager from West Florida High started on the pole and led all 40 laps in winning the feature Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.
How improbable? Kimbrough just bought the race car three weeks ago and the first time he even drove it was the day before in practice.
“We thought we eventually have a good car,” he said happily in Victory Lane after the race. “But I never thought it would be tonight.”
Kimbrough won the Bomber track title in 2006 and the Super Stock title in 2008. He and his father bought the car from Dewayne Middlebrooks after the season opener last month.
Kimbrough credited many people for helping him, including Tracy Goodson for letting him use his race shop and car hauler.
He didn’t even realize that he would start on the pole until he heard the inverted start announcement.
“That’s when I started to get a little nervous,” he said.
One crew member even suggested he start in the back.
But Kimbrough jumped out in front and led the first uneventful 26 laps.
Then Ronnie Smith, who was running third behind Brandon Odom, got into Odom’s rear, spinning him out. Allen Pierce couldn’t stop in time and slammed hard into Odom.
When the cars came around to stop for the red flag, Odom climbed out of his car and he and a crew member confronted Smith, who restarted the race from the rear.
Smith said it wasn’t intentional, but Odom, the winner of the season-opening race, wasn’t buying it.
“I’ll remember that,” Odom said.
On the restart, Kimbrough took off, while veteran driver Wayne Niedecken Jr. took over second place, but couldn’t catch the youngster.
“I was too loose,” Niedecken said.
For Kimbrough, it’s a sign of things to come.
“We’re looking forward to a great season,” he said. “We’ve got a car to beat.”