Road Trip Review - Michigan Preview

Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 by Anonymous in

Following a broken axle at New Jersey Motorsports Park and a rough test session at Pocono earlier in the week, Will Kimmel was hoping to salvage the long 10-day road trip with a decent finish in the Pocono race on Friday. "We struggled here all week, pretty much since we unloaded. Changed everything we could after the test session on Tuesday and got it as close as we could to what we wanted."

Unfortunately for Kimmel, contact with the #98 of Brady Boswell sent the E3 Spark Plugs/SO Contracting Ford Fusion into the Turn 2 wall, one of the faster parts of the track known so lovingly as the Tricky Triangle.

"I thought I had him cleared, I don't know. One of the problems of running towards the back of the pack here in the ARCA Series is being around guys who aren't sure what to expect, especially at tracks like this."

In his post-wreck interview with FS1, Kimmel mentioned taking their primary Salem Speedway car to Michigan, which is exactly what the team has been working on since they got back from Pennsylvania on Saturday. "I mean, it's not ideal," Kimmel said about taking a Salem car to Michigan. "But we don't really have much of a choice. Just one of those things. It's an older car, but it's dependable and I know what to expect."

E3 Spark Plugs will be on the side of the Kimmel Racing Ford Fusion this Friday at Michigan Int'l Speedway, a track where Will has two Top-10 finishes in five starts, back to back in 2013 and 2014. The two starts at MIS before 2013 were start-and-park efforts, while the 2015 race Will finished 16th due to mechanical problems.

Overcoming adversity is something Kimmel Racing is familiar with, and they couldn't do it with an immense amount of positivity. "Unfortunately, we didn't learn much at New Jersey and Pocono. The wreck at Pocono along with what we broke at NJMP have set us back, but Michigan should be good," said team owner and crew chief Bill Kimmel Jr.

Will shared his father's outlook heading into Michigan. "We are really looking forward to getting back to Michigan. We had a good test there and are really hoping we can pick up where we left off."
Kimmel was fourth in both the morning and afternoon sessions of the open ARCA Test at Michigan on May 19th, turning his fastest lap of 38.268sec / 188.146mph.

Two practice sessions get things going for this year’s Corrigan Oil 200 Thursday afternoon, June 9 from 1:00 p.m. to 1:55 p.m., followed by final practice from 2:05 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is scheduled for Friday at 1:40 p.m. The Friday afternoon, June 10 Corrigan Oil 200 gets the green flag at approximately 5:45 p.m. The race will air live on FS1.

New Jersey Recap - Pocono Preview

Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2016 by Anonymous in

Last Wednesday the team left Indiana to begin a 10-day road trip including New Jersey Motorsports Park (race) and Pocono Raceway (test and race). After back-to-back Top-5 finishes at NJMP, Kimmel's expectations were the same for this past weekend. "We finished preparing the road course car in February, knowing things were going to get busy. Once we got back from the Michigan test on May 20th, we focused on the road course car. The road courses are fun, because you're constantly busy in the car. I really enjoy them."

After the first practice session, Kimmel was second fastest. "The day started off great, we were second fastest and had the speed we needed. Couldn't have been happier." It went downhill quickly, much to the dismay and confusion of the team. "We made some changes and from there on out, we were losing speed and had no clue why. We lost 2.5 seconds and couldn't figure it out."

After qualifying the team changed gears on the car, forcing them to the rear of the field. Kimmel worked his way up to sixth with an engine he described as 'flat'. Shortly after that, a broken axle ended the day. "The guys worked their tails off to get me back out there and make the best of it. Turns out, we had lost a cylinder as well, which explains the engine problems. To say I'm looking forward to Pocono is a huge understatement."

After turning the 17th fastest lap out of 25 entries in the open test at Pocono on Tuesday, Kimmel and his crew could only speculate as to the extent of the problem. "At first, we couldn't figure out why it wouldn't turn. During the test we realized it was a sway bar issue. We hadn't run this particular sway bar, so we weren't sure what the results would be."

"The composite body already creates a lot of rear downforce which tightens the car up naturally. Add that with the sway bar, and we had a really, really tight race car." Before the practice on Thursday, the team changed just about everything they could. "We loosened the rear up as much as possible; adjusted the track bar, housing, springs on both sides. Everything." Kimmel's fastest lap of practice clocked in at 166.837mph/53.945sec, good enough for 12th fastest out of 32 entries.

Before the fall race in 2015, Kimmel had notched four straight Top-10's at Pocono, including three Top-5's and a runner-up in the 2014 August race. While this road trip hasn't been what they expected, Will and his Kimmel Racing team has proved that they can fight through adversity as well as anyone.

"The changes we made were huge, and they helped a lot. We're going to ride it out and see what happens. I've got a lot of faith in this team to go out and get the job done on Friday." Kimmel will attempt to qualify the E3 Spark Plugs / SO Contracting Ford Fusion at 1:45pm with the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 being televised live on FS1 at 5:30 p.m EST.

Kimmel Prepares For Right Hand Turns

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2016 by Anonymous in

Will Kimmel and Co. have been busy over the last few weeks. In a 15-day span, Kimmel and his family owned team will take part in two test sessions (Michigan and Pocono) and two full races (New Jersey Motorsports Park and Pocono). So, how have things been in the shop?

"We have been swamped, to say the least. The road course car has been together since February. We knew we were going to get busy and had to get ahead when we had the opportunity."

A seven week break between the season opener at Daytona and the second race at Nashville allowed Kimmel Racing to get the road course car finished, so that they could focus on getting their remaining fleet of cars together. The race shop can hold nine cars comfortably, and at one point in March held 10 that were in varying states of completion.

Following the open test session at Michign Int'l Speedway on May 19th for the composite body cars (where Kimmel was 4th fastest), it was all hands on deck for the road course car. "We came home, got the Michigan car cleaned up then focused on the road course car. It was pretty much done, so we went over everything and put on new brakes on it. Finished it up on Wednesday."

In three career starts at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Kimmel has two Top-5's. Impressive for a driver who had never raced on a road course before coming to ARCA. Part of his success making right hand turns comes from his perspective on road course racing.

" The road courses are just fun, you're constantly busy in the race car. I just enjoy running them because they are different. I try not to look at it as a "road course", but just as a race track that I have to figure out how to get around."

NJMP has two fully functioning layouts (Thunderbolt and Lightning); ARCA will be on the Thunderbolt course which is a 12-turn, 2.25mi layout. ARCA has run at NJMP every year since 2008 with all of the races but one being won by a Dodge. Kimmel will look to put a Ford in victory lane for the first time at NJMP on Saturday when the No. 69 Kimmel Racing E3 Spark Plugs Ford Fusion rolls onto the starting grid.

On-track action will begin with first practice on May 28th from 10:15 – 11 a.m. Final practice will take place from 11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will take place at 2 p.m. The Twilight 150 presented by Unique Pretzels starts at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 28th. You can listen to the race live at will also feature live timing and scoring and live chat of all on-track activities.

Daytona Preview

Posted: Friday, February 12, 2016 by Anonymous in

It was nearly a month ago that Kimmel Racing lost both the #68 and #69 cars during an open test at Daytona Int'l Speedway. Shortly after the wreck, the father and son team determined that neither car would be able to return for the season opener, and they were forced to go out and purchase a new super-speedway car in preparation for February 13th.

"Outside of our passion and desire for this sport, we owed it to our sponsors to fight and get ready for Daytona," said Bill Kimmel Jr.

"We don't really know what to expect," Will said when asked about the new car. "There's only so much you can learn in the shop. We've just got to get it out on the track and get some laps in with it. We wouldn't have this opportunity if it wasn't for E3 Spark Plugs, SO Contracting, SCCY Firearms and Longhorn Fab Shop. They've really stepped up and made this possible for us."

In the first practice session on Thursday they turned 20 laps in the car, quickly finding some problems. Luckily, a term not used in reference to Will the last couple of seasons, the problems were minor fixes. They were able to fine tune the newly purchased Chevrolet for the second and final practice session on Friday, topping the leaderboard with a lap of 47.543 / 189.302mph.

"We had some problems in practice with the car yesterday. Had a gear go out and found some electrical problems this morning. Today the car was totally different and 100% better. We were able to draft with the #22 and #77 (both Cunningham Motorsports entries) to get to the top of the leaderboard in a pack of about 20 cars. It worked out really well for us."

Last year the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards began using group qualifying at Daytona, along with Talladega and New Jersey Motorsports Park. Nine groups of five cars, grouped based on practice speeds, had eight minutes on the track to turn the fastest lap they could.

"I like the group deal because it takes emphasis off single car runs. It's hard on a small team to spend the money to make a car fast by itself." Will turned a lap of 47.978 / 187.586mph, good enough for ninth. "My goal was to start inside the Top 10, and that's exactly what we are going to do."

The 53rd annual Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona is live on FS1 Saturday, February 13 and precedes NASCAR’s same-night Sprint Unlimited. will feature live timing and scoring and live chat for all on-track activities.

Kimmel Racing 2016 Schedule; Will Kimmel Q&A

Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 by Anonymous in

In a mere 19 days, Will Kimmel and the rest of the ARCA Racing Series will open the 2016 season at Daytona International Speedway. Despite some setbacks at a Daytona test on January 16th, Kimmel Racing will be ready for the Lucas Oil 200 on February 13th.

Kimmel is scheduled to race in 12 of the 20 events on the ARCA Racing Series schedule this year, including both Pocono races, both dirt races and the final six races of the season. Here is a look at what Kimmel has in front of him this season (all times are Eastern Standard Time):

  • Daytona Int'l Speedway - Lucas Oil 200 - Saturday, February 13th - 4:15pm
  • Talladega Superspeedway - Talladega ARCA 200 - Friday, April 29th - 6:00pm
  • New Jersey Motorsports Park - NJMP ARCA 150 - Saturday, May 28th - 4:00pm
  • Pocono Raceway - Pocono ARCA 200 - Friday, June 3rd - 5:00pm
  • Michigan Int'l Speedway - Michigan ARCA 200 - Friday, June 10th - 5:00pm
  • Pocono Raceway - Pocono ARCA 125 - Friday, July 29th - 5:00pm
  • Illinois State Fairgrounds - Allen Crowe 100 - Sunday, August 21st - 2:30pm
  • DuQuoin State Fairgrounds - Southern Illinois 100 - Sunday, September 4th - 9:00pm
  • Salem Speedway - ARCA Fall Classic 200 - Saturday, September 10th - 8:00pm
  • Chicagoland Speedway - Chicagoland ARCA 150 - Thursday, September 15th - 8:00pm
  • Kentucky Speedway - Kentucky ARCA 150 - Friday, September 23rd - 8:00pm
  • Kansas Speedway - Kansas ARCA 150 - Friday, October 14th - 8:30pm

A few weeks ago, we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to submit questions for Will to answer, we would compile them and include them in the next article. Well, you've been waiting, so HERE are the answers to your burning questions for Will!

How does the E3 Spark Plugs sponsorship affect the season schedule?

"We are pretty much on the same schedule as last year, but we didn't have enough help to go to all the races, we just knew the ones we wanted to do. This year, we know for sure we are racing in 12."

So anything you get from here on out is a bonus?

"We have roughly 80% of what we need to go do it the way we want, which is close enough to be sure of 12 races. We still have the hood and the quarter panels open. But our ability to be this confident about running 12 races at 100% is partly because of what E3 is doing for us."

How many race cars do you have?

"12 total; 11 ARCA cars and one Late Model."

Do you have any plans to run NASCAR Sprint Cup this year?

"No, not really. But, remember, the plans for the Kentucky race last year didn't come up until this time last year. So, the answer to that question would have been the same at this point last year. And Kansas was real last minute, so, I feel that if the opportunity came up again this year, it would be similar to the Kansas deal. Last minute, spur of the moment."

How big of a transition is it between racing a street stock, and NASCAR Sprint Cup car?

"The Cup cars are stuck to the ground a lot more; they have so much downforce, the tracks just sucks the car down. Until the tires go away. Then you get that heavy car feel that you have in a street stock. In a street stock, you have that heavy car, sliding around feeling all the time. So, there are similar characteristics, but it takes 20-30 laps on tires in the Cup car before you get that street stock feel."

Is there one race that is circled on your schedule, that stands out from all the others?

"Normally it is the Salem night race, but this year I'm really looking forward to the DuQuoin Fairgrounds race, because it is under the lights. We've been so good on the dirt, to have the opportunity to run that race under the lights in front of that great crowd, it's going to be a lot of fun."

What is your favorite track? Throughout your entire career, which one is your favorite?
It was difficult to get him to give me ONE, but when you've raced on as many tracks as Will, it's difficult to name just one!

"Salem is definitely towards the top of the list. Anderson is fun." 

Bill reminds Will of Riverview Speedway in Carthage, TN.

"Oh yeah, Carthage. That was fun. It's a quarter-mile track that is banked 24 degrees. Late Model's run laps in the 10's there. Mini-cups are in the 12's."

This next response surprised me, considering Will didn't run road courses growing up.

"Road America (in Wisconsin) is fun, so was Road Atlanta. There aren't a lot of tracks I don't like, but there are some that I'm not as good at. Lucas Oil Raceway in Indy is a good example. It's a great track, but I'm not that good at it. Simply because it's so flat and the turns are so long, and I grew up on high banked, sweeping turns at Salem."

What are your responsibilities for the team, outside of just being the driver?
This one kind of stumped him, so we brought in Bill to help answer.

"As far as the race team goes, the driver is the face of the race team. He takes the responsibility of hunting for sponsors, and in our current situation, Will is his own car chief. It's just the situation we're in, because we're such a small team." 

I personally have seen Will get lunch for his crew members at the shop and sweep up at the end of the day. The list of his responsibilities is long and detailed, but such is life when you are racing for your family run race team. Thanks to everyone who participated in this Q&A, keep your eyes open for more opportunities to interact with Will and the team members throughout the season!