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On a night in which Daytona International Speedway and ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards legend Bill Venturini claimed his first victory in 31 years of competing at the "World Center of Racing," Frank Kimmel was pleased to get out of town with a fourth-place finish in Saturday's Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAV TV American Real.
Kimmel scored his eighth career top-five finish in 22 career starts -- but his first since 2008 -- when he started his No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota Camry in 19th, but took advantage of adept pit strategy, track position and a good drafting car to drive from outside the top-10 to his final finishing position.
Kimmel, who leaves Daytona fourth in the standings and more than 100 points ahead of where he was last season -- when a yellow-line violation penalty knocked him back to 21st in the final rundown -- was well aware of that fact.
"It's a good start to the season," Kimmel said. "It ran good and battled all day -- I think I probably passed more cars than anybody out there, it seemed like, so it was a good day. We got a good finish out of what we had and that's all we can ask for.
"I was able to get up to the front of that second pack -- I drafted a lot with the 32 (Mason Mingus) and the 82 (Sean Corr) and that helped a lot. Once we got up there we was just able to hang on."
The respect given to Kimmel -- a nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion -- was obvious as both youngsters sought out the veteran Kimmel post-race in the impound area to swap notes and bench-race while another youngster, John Wes Townley, celebrated in Daytona's Victory lane with his Venturini Motorsports crew.
Kimmel pitted only twice during the race and true to his pre-race plan with crew chief Jeriod Prince, took only Sunoco race fuel under cautions at about lap 10 and again at about lap 20, while running their Hoosier tires for two laps of qualifying and the 80 laps of the race without a change.
"I'll take a fourth-place at Daytona any day," Prince said. "Normally you come out of here with a lot of crashed, torn-up race cars so I'll take fourth at a superspeedway. We had some (left-front) fender damage and the car wasn't as quick as it needed to be on account of that, but we got out in front of that second pack and picked up three tenths (of a second) while leading, so it was good to know it was better out front."
Kimmel's biggest "moment" of the night came during an accident on lap 19, when at least five cars got tangled up on the frontstretch with the fracas starting in a side-by-side draft right in front of Kimmel's neon-yellow Toyota.
"There were some exciting moves out there, for sure," Kimmel said. "But I told my guys at ThorSport Racing all weekend how good that car drives. With a little luck, you can drive through anything and fortunately -- you see the mess happening, you don't panic and you try to drive through it."
"That accident was scary," Prince said of the mood on the pit box, "but not as scary as the fuel mileage at the end (because) the computer was showing we were gonna be out of fuel with five (laps) to go. So we had our fingers and toes crossed at the end."
But bolstering Kimmel and ThorSport's spirits even more is the fact that Kimmel's about the only driver in the top 10 in Daytona's opening rundown that's contesting the full ARCA Racing Series schedule.
The series' second event is in three weeks at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway on March 8-9. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is Friday, March 8 with the main event on Saturday afternoon, March 9.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is unlike any other auto racing qualifying procedure. Drivers have multiple opportunities to qualify for the season-opening race, as opposed to the usual format of one qualifying session per event.
The first chance comes via Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Qualifying, which will be held Sunday, Feb. 17 on FOX. The other chance is the Duel at Daytona, two 150-mile qualifying races held on Thursday, Feb. 21 on SPEED.
Below is a breakdown of the Daytona 500 qualifying procedure:
Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Qualifying
- Each team may run two consecutive laps with the fast lap setting the qualifying time. The two fastest qualifiers earn starting positions one and two and are the only guaranteed positions, filling the front row for the Daytona 500 and pole positions for the two qualifying races.
- The Duel at Daytona, two 150-mile qualifying races, will determine starting positions for the Daytona 500 beyond the front row.In the event of cancellation, the field will be set according to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book.
Duel at Daytona
- Those cars earning odd-numbered positions from qualifying will be assigned to the first Duel race. Those cars earning even-numbered positions from qualifying will compete in the second race.
- The starting positions for each Duel race will also be based on qualifying times.
Daytona 500 Lineup
- The two fastest qualifiers set starting positions one and two.
- The highest 15 finishers in each Duel race – excluding the already locked-in front row – will earn a spot in the Daytona 500, and fill positions 3-32.
- Based on their finishing position in the first Duel race, the top 15 will line up on the inside row (odd-number starting positions).
- Based on their finishing position in the second Duel race, the top 15 will line up on the outside row (even-number starting positions).
- Positions 33-36 will go to the four fastest cars from qualifying that have not already earned a spot.
- Position 37-42 will be provisional positions, and go to the highest six cars in 2012 owner points that have not already qualified via the Duel or Coors Light Pole qualifying.
- The 43rd starting position will be assigned to any car owner who has the most recent eligible past NASCAR Sprint Cup champion who did not make the field by any other method, providing the driver had competed in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. If the 43rd position remains unused it will be assigned to the next highest car in 2012 owner points not already locked into the field.
Aaron's, Inc. will begin its 14thyear as a NASCAR sponsor when the 2013 season kicks off today at the Sprint Unlimited in Daytona. The 2013 season will feature the No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine in 32 of the 38 Sprint Cup Races including the Unlimited in Daytona and the All-Star race in Charlotte.
The driving duties for the No. 55 car will be split among veteran Mark Martin, running 24 points races and two non-points events, Michael Waltrip, running three races and Brian Vickers, running nine races. The Aaron's Dream Machine had its best competitive season in 2012 with four pole positions, five top-five finishes and 11 top-ten finishes.
"Aaron's is proud to be a NASCAR sponsor for the 14th year, and we're thrilled to have three wonderful drivers compete in the Aaron's Dream Machine," said Ken Butler, Aaron's Chief Operating Officer. "There are more than 75 million NASCAR fans and we hope to give every one of our fans an exciting year. Our expectations for the 2013 season are high, and we look forward to another great year."
The 2013 season will feature the return of the Aaron's Dream Weekend at Talladega on May 4 th with the Aaron's 312 Nationwide Series race and the Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup Series race on May 5 th. In addition to the excitement on the race track, Aaron's will give back to the local community by hosting a food drive to benefit the Central Alabama Food Bank.
Martin begins his 31st season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2013, but will mark his second season driving the No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota. The Arkansas native owns 40 Sprint Cup and 49 Nationwide victories. Vickers, a two-time Sprint Cup winner and 2003 Nationwide Series Champion also returns to the No. 55 driving in nine races during the 2013 season. Waltrip, founder and co-owner of MWR, returns for three superspeedway races where he is always a threat to win.
Defending Daytona NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event winner, John King Jr., will join Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) for Friday's Nextera Energy 250 driving the No. 33 ESR Chevrolet Silverado.
King, the 2012 Daytona International Speedway race winner, has joined forces with ESR's No. 33 team, which also won the 2012 NCWTS event in the season finale at Homestead, Florida with driver Cale Gale.
"I am very excited to join Eddie Sharp Racing, they have great equipment and more importantly a great team, which I believe are the keys to success in this sport. We really wanted to defend my Daytona win from last year, so I am very excited to have the opportunity to drive such a great truck - I can't wait to get to Daytona," said King.
"We are thrilled to welcome John King Jr. to our stable of drivers. He is a proven winner in this series and I am confident he will continue his success with the resources we have at Eddie Sharp Racing," team owner Eddie Sharp said.
King is scheduled to run Daytona with support from the Eastern Coal Council, and possibly more if additional sponsorship comes together.
"Were working hard on it, so we'll see what happens beyond Daytona; nonetheless, I'm hopeful we can put it together to run all season with ESR." said King.
The Daytona Nextera 250 will air live on SPEED, Friday, February 22nd at 7:30pm. Check your local listings for broadcast times.
Driver Date Time Speed Track Qualifying Record: Bill Elliott 02/15/87 42.783 210.364 # Car Driver Team Time Speed Time Speed 1 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 2 19 Mike Bliss(i) G-Oil/Plinker Tactical Toyota 3 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 4 56 Martin Truex, Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 5 32 Terry Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford 6 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 7 98 Michael McDowell K-Love/Curb Records Ford 8 10 Danica Patrick # GoDaddy Chevrolet 9 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 10 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota 11 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 12 36 JJ Yeley Golden Corral Chevrolet 13 7 Dave Blaney Florida Lottery Chevrolet 14 39 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 15 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 16 27 Paul Menard Menards/Peak Chevrolet 17 47 Bobby Labonte Kroger Toyota 18 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 19 17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. # Best Buy Ford 20 83 David Reutimann Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota 21 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 22 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 23 33 Austin Dillon(i) Honey Nut Cheerios Chevrolet 24 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 25 26 Michael Waltrip Sandy Hook School Support Fund Toyota 26 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 27 51 Regan Smith(i) Guy Roofing Chevrolet 28 87 Joe Nemechek(i) Florida DOT/D.A.B. Constructors Toyota 29 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 30 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 31 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 32 38 David Gilliland Love's Travel Stops Ford 33 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 34 95 Scott Speed Leavine Family Racing Ford 35 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 36 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 37 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 38 52 Brian Keselowski TruckerFan.com Toyota 39 34 David Ragan Detail Doctor Ford 40 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 41 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet 42 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet 43 35 Josh Wise MDS Transport Ford 44 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford 45 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet * Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
The 2014 Chevrolet SS will be very busy during its Speedweeks debut, pacing all four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races – The Sprint Unlimited, both Budweiser Duels and the Daytona 500. And, it will be one of Chevrolet’s three newest models to pace NASCAR’s races at Daytona International Speedway next weekend:
· 2014 Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
· 2013 Camaro ZL1 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive4COPD 300
· 2014 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy 250
“Chevrolet is extremely proud to be a part of NASCAR’s season-opener by pacing all of the events at Daytona International Speedway,” said Jeff Chew, Marketing Manager for Chevrolet Racing. “In 2013, Chevrolet will launch 13 all-new or significantly redesigned products in North America. Included in those models is the Chevrolet SS, which race fans will get a chance to see on track when it paces The Sprint Unlimited tonight, the Budweiser Duels next Thursday, and the Daytona 500 next Sunday.”
The 2014 Chevrolet SS is the first rear-wheel drive performance sedan for Chevrolet since 1996.
The 2013 Camaro ZL1 brings supercar levels of performance and technology to the sports-car segment, featuring a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 that produces 580 horsepower, and can go from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.
The 2014 Silverado all-new EcoTec3 engines, designed specifically for trucks, provide power and torque when needed, then switches seamlessly to 4-cylinder mode to save fuel for light-load driving.
In 2013, Chevrolet is campaigning the Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Camaro in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Team Chevy Racing PR
Officials from ARCA and Hoosier Racing Tire Corporation jointly announced today in a media conference at Daytona Int'l Speedway that they have executed a contract extension that will position Hoosier as the Official Tire of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards through the 2015 season.
The agreement provides for the continued exclusive use of Hoosier Racing Tires in the ARCA Racing Series for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 racing seasons and continues an established awards program and cost containment initiative for series teams. Hoosier has recently developed and introduced a short track radial tire and a road course wet radial tire to complement its long established superspeedway radial tire and dirt track bias tire programs in the series.
"Hoosier's exclusive business is building quality tires for racers, and we have great confidence in extending the ARCA-Hoosier relationship through the 2015 season," said ARCA President Ron Drager. "Hoosier's commitment to engineering, development and production of tires constructed specifically for the demanding and diverse ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards venues-including paved short tracks, dirt tracks, road courses and superspeedways-continues to be proven each race weekend."
The agreement extends Hoosier's status as among the longest-standing participating manufacturer-sponsor relationships in the 61-year history of the sanctioning body. Hoosier has participated as a supplier for ARCA sanctioned racing events since 1985 and first became the Official Tire of the ARCA Racing Series in 1995. Hoosier co-founder Bob Newton began his association with ARCA founder John Marcum in 1953 when he competed as a racer in ARCA-sanctioned short track racing at Flat Rock Speedway.
"ARCA has played a key role in our strategic vision here at Hoosier," said Hoosier Vice President of Sales & Marketing Dennis Sherman. "Our participation with ARCA has facilitated the expansion and development of our tires and service for the race teams over the years, and we look forward to more racing accomplishments as the Official Tire of ARCA in the future."
Hoosier is a major series point fund contributor and the exclusive sponsor of the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge point fund, in addition to posting other prize money bonuses including a per-race and year-end winner's bonus. Hoosier has also worked with ARCA to develop a maximum tire consumption rule for all venues and races on the tour as a cost containment measure.
The Hoosier extension has received considerable support from the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competitor base.
"It's great to see Hoosier coming back to provide our race tire through 2015," said 9-time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion Frank Kimmel, who has 74 career series victories. "We know how hard those guys in the purple shirts work, race in and race out, to consistently provide us with the best product they can put on the track. There's a comfort level knowing that Hoosier and ARCA have made such a commitment to one another over the years, and that the common goal is a good, safe, fast race tire for all of us in the series to race on."
Kimmel's sentiments were echoed by ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards team owner Bill Venturini, whose Venturini Motorsports team fields as many as six cars for a given race and placed four full-time teams in the series top-10 in final 2012 point standings.
Veteran crew chief Paul Andrews has 12 victories and 30 pole qualifying awards to his credit in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Alan Kulwicki, Geoff Bodine, Steve Park, Jeremy Mayfield, Kenny Wallace, Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip and Kyle Petty. He currently serves as crew chief for team owner Kerry Scherer's Cunningham Motorsports Dodge team.
"Across the board, Hoosier has been very solid in the tire they provide, especially when you consider everything we throw at them as far as different race track sizes and surfaces over the course of a season," said Andrews, who has 8 ARCA Racing Series wins since 2010 and was the 1992 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion crew chief for driver/owner Kulwicki. "My experience with Hoosier, both when they were in NASCAR and here in the ARCA Racing Series, has been that they are great to work with and that they put out a good product. Hoosier and ARCA work with the teams to limit tire usage in the race, and the lesser funded teams aren't required to purchase sticker tires, so that's helpful to each respective team's budget. I can see why this has been a good long term relationship between ARCA and Hoosier."
ARCA Racing PR
Race fans will have the final voice in selecting the starting lineup for The Sprint Unlimited At Daytona on Saturday night, Feb. 16 under the lights at Daytona International Speedway.
Race fans will have three options to determine the order that the drivers will line up for the fan favorite, star-studded race.
1) Number of career wins (most to least)
2) 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final driver point standings
3) The order of when drivers earned their pole position in 2012 (Daytona 500 first place – Homestead-Miami Speedway Ford 400 last place)
To participate, fans can cast their vote through a digital app at one of four Daytona Rewards Stations on Daytona International Speedway property or through texting.
The Daytona Rewards Stations will be located in the Midway, Sprint FANZONE, DIS Ticket & Tours Building and at the Gate 8 Pedestrian Bridge. Texting information on how to vote will be promoted throughout the day to race fans on property at the “World Center of Racing.” Voting for the starting lineup will take place on Saturday only from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
In addition to voting on the starting lineup, fans in attendance will be eligible to receive special upgraded race experiences including roles as Grand Marshal, Honorary Starter, and trophy presenter. Fans can also help deliver the trophy to Gatorade Victory Lane or participate in driver introductions during pre-race ceremonies.
Prior to The Sprint Unlimited, race fans will be able to shape the race by voting on race elements such as length of each race segment, type of team pit stop after first segment, how many cars will be eliminated after the second segment and the type of fire suit Miss Sprint Cup will wear. Fans can vote at NASCAR.com/sprintunlimited or on the NASCAR Mobile ’13 app; voting on the format of the race will end at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 13 while voting for the other categories close during different stages of the race.
The format for selecting The Sprint Unlimited field of drivers is returning to its roots. The eligible field of drivers will consist of pole winners from the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and past winners of The Sprint Unlimited who have attempted to qualify for at least one race during the 2012 season.