Kimmel makes history with eighth ARCA title
Frank Kimmel has done something that no one else in stock car racing has done -- not even Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt.
Last Sunday at the new Iowa Speedway, Kimmel wrapped up his eighth championship overall and seventh in a row in the ARCA RE/MAX Series.
He previously was tied with Petty and Earnhardt, two of NASCAR's greats, for the most championships in a touring stock car series at seven.
"To win a single championship in a season is a great accomplishment, but to win eight is almost unbelievable,'' Kimmel said. "We really had to overcome a lot of obstacles this season, and to earn this championship feels incredible. Bobby [Gerhart] gave us a fight for much of the season and, with some of the bad luck we had at midseason, we really had to battle back to the point lead.
"This team did a great job keeping their heads up and staying focused on the big picture, and that is ultimately what won this championship for us in 2006.''
In addition to competing in ARCA this season, Kimmel also became the first ARCA driver invited to participate in the all-star International Race of Champions Series. Kimmel, tied for sixth in the points, will compete in the final IROC race of 2006 on Oct. 29 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Winning this latest title could mean another invitation in 2007, a thought that makes Kimmel smile.
"Being invited to compete in IROC this season has really been one of the largest highlights in my career,'' Kimmel said. "I have really had a lot of fun getting to meet and get to know the champions from all over the world.''
Kimmel's overall ARCA stats include 68 victories and 196 top-five finishes in 322 starts, but the veteran racer says it gets tougher every year.
"Every year, the competition in ARCA is increasing and the challenge to go out and win several races in the year is that much harder,'' he said. "But that is a credit to the series and the amount of talent they have been able to draw year after year.
"I'm thrilled that we were able to wrap up this championship with probably our biggest team win at Talladega [two weeks ago] and then to come to our team owner, Larry Clements' home track at Iowa Speedway, makes everything pretty special.''
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press