Bill France Triple Crown
This year’s Hantz Group 200 marks the 60th appearance of the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Toledo Speedway since debuted there in 1963. It also kicks off the 2006 Bill France Triple Crown, a particularly grueling stretch that includes three very diverse tracks: the Toledo Speedway short-track (Sept 1), the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile-dirt (Sept 4) and the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway (Sept 9), all in the space of 9 days. Some past Bill France Triple Crown champions include Frank Kimmel, Tim Steele, Brent Sherman, Bob Keselowski, Tracy Leslie, Bill Venturini, Bobby Bowsher and Davey Allison.
Andersons ARCA Fan Fest
The action at Toledo Speedway kicks off Thursday with the Andersons ARCA Fan Fest presented by Wolverine Boots from 5 p.m . to 8 p.m. Dealer groups, in cooperation with Ford Racing, will display the “Ford Tech Tour” mobile marketing semi-tractor trailer as part of the fan fest, offering fans the opportunity to view several Ford Racing vehicles and interactive activities, plus the latest line of Ford Production Passenger vehicles. In addition to the Ford Tech Tour, several racecar simulators, show cars and activities for kids are scheduled, including rides in real ARCA/NASCAR style stock cars around the Toledo Speedway. An autograph session with up to 20 ARCA drivers from all divisions is scheduled from 7pm to 8pm. The National Pork Board will be on hand serving free pork, and admission to The Andersons Fan Fest presented by Wolverine Boots is free.
Competitive Field With International Flavor
Currently, 42 drivers from 17 states and three countries are entered for Toledo’s Hantz Group 200 competing for the 35 starting positions in the 200-lap main event. Seven-time series champion and current point leader Frank Kimmel leads the charge. Horgen Switzerland’s Hans-Peter Schappi is scheduled to make his career-first series attempt at Toledo in Andy Hillenburg’s #11 Chevy Monte Carlo. Amherstburg, Ontario’s Terry Jones, who already has 16 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, is also entered.
King Kimmel at Toledo
Kimmel is the all-time winner at Toledo with nine victories. Toledo was also the site where Kimmel earned his career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series win in 1994. Since Kimmel’s first win at Toledo, only the late Blaise Alexander and Ken Schrader have been victorious (other than Kimmel) at Toledo. Kimmel’s victory march at Toledo also includes 5 consecutive from 2000-2004. Kimmel is also the defending Hantz Group 200 race winner, edging David Ragan at the final stripe by about two feet in last year’s short-track Toledo thriller.
Championship Points Battle
With six races left in 2006, Kimmel, chasing an unprecedented eighth series crown, leads the national championship points by 170 points over four-time Daytona ARCA 200 winner Bobby Gerhart headed to Toledo. While Kimmel lead in overall points, Gerhart, who opened the season with a big win at Daytona, leads in Superspeedway Challenge points, which is a separate point fund for superspeedways only.
Rookie of the Year Battle Tight
The ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie of the Year chase is especially close with Tipp City, Ohio rookie Ryan Howard leading by just 10 points over Laurel, Arkansas driver Ryan Foster. Howard drives for Mark Gibson Racing while Foster is a teammate to Kimmel. Brett Rowe, the 2005 ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series champion, is currently third in Rookie points 20 points out of first with Isanti, Minnesota driver Blake Bjorklund trailing in fourth 40 points out. Bjorklund won the Pork Pole at the Milwaukee Mile last Sunday and led 35 laps in the race.
Fierce Competition; 15 Different Winners in 17 Events
Phil Bozell’s victory at the Milwaukee Mile last Sunday made him the 15th different winner in 17 events in 2006. The victory tied a record set in 1992 for the most different winners in a single season. Bozell also became one of 10 first-time series winners in 2006, which is a record for a single season. Justin Allgaier, with his victory on the Springfield IL mile-dirt two weeks ago, is yet another first-time winner this year. Allgaier finished second twice at Toledo, once to Kimmel in ’04 and the other to Schrader in the spring of ’06. Allgaier also led the most laps at Milwaukee (64) and finished 4 th in the Milwaukee race. In fact, the last three ARS winners were first-time winners to include Brent Sherman’s thrilling victory at Michigan Int’l Speedway on August 18th. Sherman is entered for Toledo in his own Serta Mattress Ford with veteran crew chief Lee Leslie directing.
Hillenburg Enters McCumbee
Andy Hillenburg, the 1995 ARCA RE/MAX Series driving champion, has also entered a second car with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Chad McCumbee at the helm. McCumbee finished fourth in RE/MAX Series points in 2005 driving for Hillenburg before moving on to the Craftsman Truck Series fulltime in 2006. Ashley Parlett, who finished 28 th in the May Toledo ARS race, will serve as McCumbee’s crew chief at Toledo.
Other Notable Entrants
Making his first series attempt at Toledo is Louisville, Kentucky driver Chuck Barnes, Jr. Barnes’ resume includes the 2004 CRA Super Series late model championship and a street stock championship at Salem Speedway in 2000. Also entered is Amber Cope, the niece of Daytona 500 champion Derrick Cope.
Kevin Swindell, son of 3-time national sprint car champion Sammy Swindell, is the youngest driver entered at 17, while James Hylton, who turned 72 on August 26 th, is the oldest. Hylton, currently 22nd in driver points, is in the final year of his driving career that includes three runner-up finishes in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series point standings. Hylton’s final driving season is his ‘White Flag Tour’.
Next-Generation ARCA Drivers Entered
Sons of former ARCA RE/MAX Series champions entered include Billy Leslie (Tracy Leslie 1988), Todd Bowsher (Jack Bowsher 1963, 64 & 65), Billy Venturini (Bill Venturini 1987 & 91) and Brian Keselowski (Bob Keselowski 1989). Both Venturini and Keselowski were first-time series winners in ’06. Clarkston, Michigan’s Michael Simko, in the Hantz Group Chevy, is yet another next-generation ARCA driver entered.
Past winners at Toledo through the years include Bobby Bowsher, Benny Parsons, Blaise Alexander, Iggy Katona, Ken Schrader, Bill Venturini, Ramo Stott, Andy Hampton and Bob Strait to name a few. Of the drivers entered, only Kimmel is a former RE/MAX Series race winner at Toledo. 16 winners have won from the Pork Pole at Toledo.
ARCA RE/MAX Series practice is from 2:00 – 3:30pm with Pork Pole Award Qualifying going off at 5:00. The Hantz Group 200 presented by Belle Tire is LIVE on SPEED at 9:00pm Eastern. The race also re-airs Monday, September 4 th at 12 noon ET.