By DAVE SKRETTA
KANSAS CITY, Kan. —
Frank Kimmel put quite an exclamation mark on his 10th ARCA championship.
After wrapping it up simply by turning a practice lap earlier in the day, Kimmel raced to his 80th career victory in the weather-shortened series finale at Kansas Speedway. The win allowed him to break a tie with Iggy Katona for the most in series history.
“It’s been just a phenomenal year for the entire team. The guys have worked extremely hard,” Kimmel said. “The cars have been really good this year, just a model of consistency and that’s what it takes in a points race.”
It was the third win at Kansas Speedway for Kimmel, who pitted on Lap 19 and then remained on the track when the rest of the cars pitted after a wreck. Kimmel was still in the lead when ARCA officials shortened the race from 99 laps to 65 laps because of an approaching storm.
Mason Mitchell finished second, John Wes Townley was third, pole-sitter Dylan Kwasniewski — making his first ARCA start — was fourth and Boston finished fifth.
Kimmel won his first championship in 1998, and at one point won eight straight. But he hadn’t won the title since 2007, and went a couple of years without even winning a race.
Kimmel said there were times he wondered whether he would ever get to Victory Lane again, but last year he bounced back to finish second to Chris Buescher in the championship.
Now, Kimmel is back on top.
“As I explained earlier, this is a different feeling, a different deal to win after not winning,” he said. “It’s a pretty special day. As you get a little bit older, things you look back on, what’s important, what’s not, for us to come out as a second-year team and then be very competitive in our first year and then come out this year and be very competitive, that’s good.
“It’s a pretty special season for me, for sure.”
The race was the final one in the six-decade career of James Hylton, who made more than 600 starts in the Cup series but has spent the last few years of his career in ARCA.
The 79-year-old Hylton finished 18th in a car that was put together by some of his buddies, and the No. 48 sported a similar paint scheme to the one he raced in the 1960s. Hylton finished second in the Cup series as a rookie in 1966, and again behind Richard Petty in 1967 and ’71.
“I’m retiring at the end of the day, but my heart is wanting to keep going,” Hylton told The Associated Press. “But it’s a done deal. I won’t be back as a driver.”
Hylton announced at Daytona in February that he would be retiring at the end of the season, and NASCAR President Mike Helton joined ARCA President Ron Drager in presenting him a framed photo commemorating his six decades in racing on Friday morning.
“He’s accomplished a tremendous amount,” Drager said. “We couldn’t be prouder that he chose to finish his career with ARCA.”