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.