By KEVIN HARRIS
Ever since he was a kid, Will Kimmel has dreamed about having the opportunity to race against some of NASCAR’s finest drivers.
Next week at Kentucky Speedway, the third-generation racer will get his shot.
Kimmel, a Sellersburg resident, announced Tuesday that he will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in the Feed the Children 300 on Friday, July 8 at the 1 1/2-mile oval.
The 23-year-old nephew of nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel and the son of former Louisville Speedway late model champion Bill Kimmel Jr. will drive the No. 39 Ford Mustang for Mooresville, N.C.-based Go Green Racing.
Even though an official entry list for the race has yet to be finalized, Kimmel expects to compete against NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch and this year’s surprising Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne a week from Friday.
“The level of competition goes way up when you race at that level,” Will Kimmel said. “I hope to run good and run the whole 200 laps. I’m going to have to race my butt off to finish 25th.”
One thing Kimmel will not have to worry about next Friday is trying to qualify his way into the race field. His car will have a secure starting spot in the race thanks to NASCAR’s qualifying rules. The top 35 cars in the Nationwide Series’ owner standings are guaranteed a starting spot in the race, no matter how quick their qualifying lap is. The No. 39 Ford is currently 26th in the standings, a comfortable 197 points ahead of 36th place. Qualifying for the Feed the Children 300 will be at 3:30 p.m. the day of the race.
“It’s going to be a good opportunity for us,” said Kimmel, who will have sponsorship from Crosley Radio and Clarksville Schwinn Bicycles and Fitness. “You’ve just got to get in there and do it. It’s something you can’t pass up.”
Although Kimmel will be competing in his first Nationwide race, it will not be his first rodeo at Kentucky Speedway.
He finished 21st in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky last September.
Plus Kimmel will not have to go far to get some advice on how to go fast at Kentucky. His uncle Frank has won four ARCA races at the track.
“Kentucky has always been a good track to us. Frank has had a lot of success there,” Will Kimmel said. “I’m really excited about it.”
This week, Kimmel has been trying to get his street-stock car ready to compete for Sunday’s Papa John’s Firecracker 200 at Salem Speedway. But his upcoming Nationwide debut has been a distraction to him while preparing his street stock.
“I’m trying to focus on the Salem race,” Kimmel said. “But it’s hard for me to explain my thoughts right now. I mean, it’s the best drivers in the world — bottom line. It’s hard to put it in perspective.”