Frank Kimmel wouldn’t have won his 10th ARCA championship any other way.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Kimmel already was assured of the 2013 title once the series’ season finale took the green flag Friday night at Kansas Speedway.
But Kimmel, in a Toyota, also won the weather-shortened Kansas Lottery 98.9 for his 80th career win, breaking the series’ all-time record he shared with Iggy Katona, who won 79 races during 1953-77.
Kimmel, 51, decided to stay on the track when others pitted and took the lead for good on lap 35.
With a storm approaching, ARCA and Kansas Speedway officials decided to shorten the race from its scheduled 99 laps to 65, a ruling that caused a bit of controversy among some drivers.
But it didn’t bother Kimmel when he heard the race was going to be shortened by 34 laps.
“What a perfect way to end a perfect season,” said Kimmel, amid a champagne celebration in victory lane. “It was a great day, a great deal for everyone who has supported me, this team, this crew that worked their rears off.
“I was leading, so I was okay with it (being shortened). I saw the lightning and stuff coming, and I know it’s bad lately with all the lightning, so it was okay with me.”
Mason Mitchell was second in a Ford, followed by John Wes Townley in a Toyota.
Rookie Dylan Kwasniewski, who won the pole, was fourth in a Toyota, followed by Justin Boston, whose fifth-place finish in a Toyota assured him of Rookie of the Year honors.
Townley wasn’t happy with ARCA’s decision to shorten the race.
To him, it appeared once Kimmel had the lead, it made it an easy decision for ARCA.
“They saw who they wanted to win, and called the race early,” Townley said 20 minutes after the race.
“That’s the way I see it. The lightning still isn’t here. The storm is still not here. It’s still not raining, last I checked.”
Townley, who had to start from the rear of the pack because of unapproved adjustments during impound, was convinced he could have caught Kimmel had the race continued.
Boston was surprised to hear on the 55th lap, the race was going to be stopped after 10 more laps.
“It wasn’t really communicated to me that we were going to end there,” Boston said. “I’m looking out and I don’t see any rain, and I’m confused as to why we’re stopping the race.
“I like Frank as a driver, and I like him as a guy … the fans are the main thing. Their safety is important, but I was confused why we were quitting and not trying to wait out the storm.”
Mitchell, happy with his second-place finish, interjected: “I’m not going to lie, I was pretty happy the rain showed up.”
James Hylton, 79, who made the final start of his stock-car racing career, finished 18th in Friday’s race.
To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/randycovitz.