BUSCH GOES 2-FOR-2 IN ARCA IN 2003 by Jeremy Troiano
Kimmel, Hagans Can Only Watch
If Kyle Busch were running all of the 2003 ARCA races, the race for the championship might be pretty boring. After all the now 18-year-old, who is driving for Hendrick Motorsports, has won the last and only two ARCA races he has entered.
Busch and Kimmel traded the lead twice, with Kimmel jumping out front from his pole spot to lead the first 14 laps before Busch took over for good.
All that led up to what may have been the most exciting part of the race. Let us paint the picture for you. Busch is the leader, but lines up behind two cars that are on the tail end of the lead lap. When the green flag is waved, Kimmel jumps to the outside and flies by Busch. The 18-year-old then threads the needle through those cars making it four-wide going into turn number-one.
Busch is getting used to climbing out of his car in v-lane in ARCA.
It was one of those hold-your-breath moments, but Kimmel did come back out on top down the backstretch. He held the lead until lap 81, when Busch passed him by and pulled away to the end.
"I saw that Frank got up on the outside. I left him some room up there and I didn't mean to," admitted Busch. "So he made it three-wide and there were two cars in front of me, so I just decided I had to go through the middle. I wasn't' going to let him have it that easy. I just stuck my nose in there, that's all."
Despite being overmatched by the Hendrick-prepared car from his windshield, Kimmel had nothing but praise and admiration for the youngster.
"He is sitting in some of the best equipment you can think of," said Kimmel. "But that isn't to take anything away from him. He is a lot of fun to run against. I wouldn't say that I like having to deal with him because it would be much easier for me if he weren't here. But every now and then you need a reality check to make sure everything you have is straight. Now we have another full step to go to get into his league.
Despite not earning the pole for the race, Busch, who dominated the field in his last ARCA start at Nashville, last month, was again the dominator Saturday at Kentucky Speedway. He traded the lead twice with fellow ARCA dominator Frank Kimmel and eventually pulled away to score his second ARCA win in front of more than 25,000 fans at the stand-alone race.
"I'm out here to just gain experience," said Busch. "I need to learn how to drive these cars on all type of racetracks and superspeedways.
"I'm not surprised with this success because of the equipment we have. We have two guys working on this stuff every day. This is the R&D team for the #60 Winston Cup car."
And Busch's equipment, along with Kimmel's, allowed the two of them to simply distance themselves from the rest of the competitors in no time. A long green-flag run left only six cars on the lead lap when the checkers fell.
Kyle Busch (#87) passes Billy Venturini (#25) on the outside at Kentucky.
"We contended with him and that was our first goal. His guys are top-notch, but so are mine. He knows how to wheel a racecar. We got to pass him a couple of times. We had some good races."
But that was all most people could do, contend with Busch, That list includes third-place driver Matt Hagans, who finished a half-lap back behind the Hendrick driver.
"It was pretty fun to watch it," said Hagans, who ran around in third almost all night long despite not deciding to race until Monday. "I was always looking at them through my front windshield all night long. I was waiting for Kyle to make a big mistake, but he never did. He has very good car control."
Busch's biggest excitement of the weekend might have come when he lost the car and spun in turns one and two in practice on Friday. A great piece of driving kept the car out of the wall and in one piece.
K I M M E L # 4 6
Or it might have been the fact that Busch took the win in front of his entire family, including Winston Cup star Kurt Busch, on Mother's Day weekend.
"It was cool to have my brother here. I guess he was just hanging in the suite. He said he wished that he had a radio so he could have told me to slow down a couple of times! My Dad was my spotter and it was also special to have my mother here. It was a full family deal."
Youngster Shelby Howard and Jason Jarrett rounded out the top-five finishers.
The ARCA Series is becoming a younger man's series lately. Three of its last four races have been won by drivers 18 or younger (17-year-old Howard won at Salem two weeks ago).
Kurt Busch hugs brother Kyle in ARCA victory lane in Kentucky. What a mother's day gift for Mom, Gay.