SPARTA, Ky. – official release – ARCA photo — It was a tall order but someone had to do it. And that someone was Sellersburg, Indiana’s Will Kimmel, who topped the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards speed charts Wednesday in open testing at Kentucky Speedway.
It was no small feat either as 25 drivers posted time and speed in preparation for Friday night’s ZLOOP 150 at Kentucky, live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Kimmel, in the No. 69 Kimmel Racing Ford, shot to the top of the board in the final moments of testing, very near the 5 o’clock bell. The third-generation ARCA racer circled the 1.5-mile superspeedway in 31.044 seconds, an average speed of 173.947 mph.
“It was about five minutes to go when we put down that lap,” Kimmel said. “It was a qualifying run. If we would have put new tires on it, I think we would have been even better…the scuffs we had on it had cooled.”
“That part was good, but we were chasing it a little bit in our race runs. We tried something early on and then went back to where we were. I think we were fighting the old tires we had on it, so we weren’t sure how fast it will be in race trim. We’ll see where we stand when we come back for the race Friday.”
Kimmel not only put down the fastest lap of the session, he was also arguably the busiest driver of the bunch, showing up on the board in three places – his own No. 69 Messinas-Circle Track Ford and in the Kimmel Racing No. 68 Gary Yeomans Ford team car that Michael Lira will drive Friday during the race. Kimmel also assisted Ken Schrader Racing with the team’s No 52 Chevrolet.
“Matt (Tifft) couldn’t make it so Donnie (Richeson/Ken Schrader Racing Crew Chief) came down and asked if I’d give it a few runs, so I squeezed in there…got it fairly close for them. I think it’ll give Matt something to work with.”
Tifft, who drives the Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet when Schrader’s not in it, could not attend the open test Wednesday because of school commitments. Tifft is in his first year at UNC Charlotte, and couldn’t stay for Wednesday’s test, which was originally scheduled the day before; however, wet track conditions from all night rains prevented any on-track racecar activity Tuesday.
Justin Boston was second quickest overall at 172.994 mph. Boston’s already in the headlines this week, having announced that he’d also compete in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). ZLOOP, Boston’s title sponsor for both his Venturini Motorsports Toyota and the JGR car, is also the title sponsor of Friday’s ARCA Racing Series event.
“This is a big weekend for me and my sponsor ZLOOP,” said Boston. “In addition to this being our (ZLOOP’s) second year sponsoring the ZLOOP 150 (ARCA) race at Kentucky, we’re also making our NASCAR Nationwide debut. Wow…so pumped for the weekend and excited for all our fans and supporters.”
Boston is also scheduled to race for JGR in next weekend’s Nationwide event at Dover Int’l Speedway.
Louisville, Kentucky native Ben Rhodes made his first-ever laps on a superspeedway in the Kentucky test for Turner Scott Motorsports, turning in the third fastest speed overall at 172.254 mph. Rhodes has already clinched the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship as well as the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award. Rhodes will be making his superspeedway debut in Friday’s ZLOOP 150.
Current ARCA Racing Series point leader Mason Mitchell was fourth quickest ahead of Monterrey, Mexico’s Daniel Suarez in fifth. The ZLOOP 150 marks Suarez’s debut with the ARCA Racing Series. JGR announced last week that the 22-year old Suarez would join the organization in 2015 to compete full time in the NASCAR Nationwide (XFINITY) Series with ARRIS as the primary sponsor.
“I’m excited to race with Venturini Motorsports at Kentucky in the ARCA Series as I continue to prepare for next season and running full time with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series,” said Suarez. “I’m looking forward to representing my new sponsor ARRIS and I’m thankful to ARRIS and everyone involved for giving me this opportunity as I make the next step in my career.”
Kyle Weatherman, in a Roulo Brothers Racing Ford, was sixth fastest over Venturini Motorsports’ Cody Coughlin in seventh.
“We had a good test session and I think we are in a good spot with our setup for this Friday,” Coughlin said. “We picked up our speed throughout the day and were in the top-five most of the day…sometimes at the top of the chart. I’m looking forward to Friday night.”
Coughlin also took a quick liking to the 1.5-mile oval.
“Kentucky Speedway is a pretty cool place. It has a unique character and pretty wild to drive around,” Coughlin added. “It has some bumps around the track that could upset the nose of the car, but this will be a good learning experience for me and I hope to be a strong contender on Friday night.”
The 18-year-old from Delaware, Ohio is coming to Kentucky after recently recording a big Super Late Model win earlier this month at the renowned Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Indiana.
“It felt great to get into victory lane at Winchester Speedway,” Coughlin continued. “Things are really coming along well with both our ARCA Racing Series and Super Late Model program. Our goal is to end our year on a high note and we are going in the right direction.”
Josh Williams, Justin Allison and Kimmel (52 car) completed the top-10 respectively.