Frank Kimmel responded to his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start in nine years Saturday night with a 21st-place finish in the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen in his No. 13 Ansell / Menards Toyota, and at the end of the night said he was ready for more, with one qualification.
"I really enjoyed this whole weekend, but whatever we do after this is up to Duke (Thorson, team owner)," Kimmel said with his trademark smile in the garage following the race. "If the fans enjoyed seeing this Ansell / Menards Toyota out there they can let him know, but obviously my first priority is staying after the ARCA championship -- those young kids over there aren't about to ease up on us."
Kimmel holds a 175-point lead in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, which next races Sunday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. But on Saturday night Kimmel was enjoying the moment. He's won four of his nine career ARCA championships since his last truck start, which came in 2004, but he just shook his head when reminded of that gap.
"The biggest thing I carry away from this is just a lot of thanks for -- of course Duke and Rhonda (Thorson, owners) for making this happen," Kimmel said. "But also for Jeriod (Prince, crew chief), Rich (Lushes, truck chief) and the guys for working their butts off for two days and making this work so well."
Kimmel battled a "push" in his truck all weekend, which consisted of six hours of practice between a NASCAR open test on Thursday and two more hours early Saturday. Kimmel's best lap, which was within four-tenths of a second of his ThorSport Racing teammate, Truck Series championship leader Matt Crafton, came on Thursday.
Kimmel started 27th in the 35-truck field and ran a good part of the last half of the race in the top-20, before some late cautions knocked him back outside 20th. But Kimmel never gave up and on the last lap, actually passed Crafton's chief championship rival at this point, rookie points leader Jeb Burton, to grab 21st and gain one championship point for Crafton.
"We had a lot of fun," Kimmel said. "Getting back into a truck was a different experience, but the guys made it easier and working with (son) Frankie up on the spotters' stand was a real treat. I was real impressed with the information he gave me and how much he helped.