The Prairie Meadows 250
Topics: Prairie Meadows 250
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June 3, 2007
Now, normally I don't watch ARCA racing. Not because I don't want to, mind you, but because it's just not on television much. Lacking TiVo, and raising a child that adores buttons and lights, I'm not able to record the race digitally and the VCR would never make it through the event untouched. Plus, this is just the fourth event on the ARCA schedule to be televised live, and I missed the other three due to family obligations. Then again, it took me until week 5 or 6 to see more than half of a Nextel Cup event.
One other thing stands in the way of watching the action: I don't know who these guys are. Sure, I've heard of Frank Kimmel from his days as a NASCAR "field filler" (back before 50 cars showed up for qualifying). I heard of Bobby Gerhart from this year's Daytona dust-up with Erin Crocker. It's just hard to make it appointment television when you don't really know or care about who's in it.
But now, thanks to Chris Knight, public relations expert for many ARCA racing teams, I've been getting to know quite a bit of the field, and have a whole bunch of drivers to cheer for. I've been publishing articles and information about his clients for some weeks now, and having learned about this group of drivers, I was eager to sit down and see them in action.
"My guys" include Dexter Bean, Dan Brode, Mike Harmon, Jim Hollenbeck, Phillip McGilton, Bryan Silas, Billy Tanner, and Nick Tucker. Knowing nothing else about the drivers going in to the race, I'd have to say that my favorites are Dexter Bean and Phillip McGilton, because Phillip's from Illinois and Dexter's got a really cool name.
One other name I should mention competing in the race is Bryan Reffner, a very friendly driver I met at a local Menard's grand opening when he was driving a Menard's car in ASA. He passed Bryan Silas on lap 29, making his presence known to me.
Frank Kimmel (with 94) and Michael McDowell (with 74) would lead the most laps, but Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Michael McDowell, Phillip McGilton, and Bryan Clauson would also find their way to the front. Aside from Kimmel, who was a "field filler" some years back, these are all names that you might be hearing in NASCAR lineups someday soon.
Late in the race some of the cars had to pit under green just before a caution, leaving them a lap down. The ARCA RE/MAX Series is different than Nextel Cup in that there is no "Lucky Dog Pass." You have to earn your lap back. However, with a crash on the restart two were able to make it back on the lead lap.
This would be important for Michael McDowell, one of the cars that made it back on the lead lap. He would chase down Kimmel, making a charge for the lead with two laps to go, coming up short by just eight hundredths of a second.
It was Frank Kimmel's 69th career ARS victory in 335 starts, giving the 8-time champion a 20.59% win rate.
In watching the race, two things stand out as very different from the usual NASCAR race on television. One, is that black seems to be a very popular car color. Two, that the guys in the field come from very, very different backgrounds, making for some interesting stories.
Very close behind Kimmel was McDowell, originally an open-wheel (2004 Star Mazda Champion) and sports car (2005 Mexico City winner, Rolex Daytona Prototypes) driver. The pole was won by Michael Annett, a local from Des Moines making his first ARCA RE/MAX start, and he finished third. In fourth place was Phillip McGilton, a southern Illinois business owner whose first racing start ever was in an ARCA car in 2006.
I should also mention that despite the race being the Prairie Meadows 250, the folks on Speed Channel kept calling it the Iowa 250. Why, I don't know, but I'm sure the folks at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino aren't entirely pleased with their sponsorship being ignored by the broadcast team.
If you've never seen ARCA action, and are wondering who's in the show, browse through The Crittenden Automotive Library's Article Index and look for all the articles by Chris Knight. Then check out ARCA's Broadcast Schedule, and mark some dates and times on your calendar.
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