Ali Kern spent the majority of the 125-lap ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Kalamazoo Speedway (MI) on Wednesday night staying patient and waiting for her opportunity to pounce. While riding in the fourth position with nine laps remaining, that opportunity presented itself.
Kern took advantage of contact between leaders John Hunter Nemechek and Grant Quinlan on lap 117 to restart in the second position with eight laps to go. She powered out to the top spot over Quinton Bear on the ensuing restart and never looked back en route to becoming just the second female driver to win an ARCA/CRA Super Series event.
“It feels amazing,” Kern said of her first career ARCA/CRA Super Series win. “Everybody just works so hard. It’s just unreal still. I don’t know if I’ve really processed anything yet. It’s amazing that everybody’s work has finally paid off and we’ve got the result that we’ve deserved.
“I just backed up a little bit and turned the fans on and waited it out a little bit. They took each other out and we were there at the end.”
While Kern’s win was a popular one among the huge crowd on hand for the Kalamazoo Klash, much of the talk after the race surrounded the contact between Nemechek and Quinlan.
Nemechek suffered heavy damage as a result of the contact with Quinlan and retired from the event, while Quinlan (who was the leader at the time of the incident) was forced to restart at the rear of the field for being involved in the caution.
“Three laps in a row he had doored us and had us all kinds of sideways,” Quinlan told Speed51.com after the race. “I don’t know if he thought I was going to clear him or something but he threw it in there and stuffed us in the left rear and spun us around in a circle.”
Nemechek declined to comment on the incident after the race, but said the following to his team over the radio: "I didn't mean to get into him. He just kept chopping me. But if they want to be pissed then I guess we'll fight about it.”
Quinlan’s crew did approach Nemechek after the race, but the two sides separated after each giving their own opinion of the incident.
Kern was one of the drivers with a great view of the contact between the two leaders, but said she was more focused on avoiding the accident than what actually caused it.
“I was just looking low, looking low and hoping that Quinlan wasn’t going to come back across and hit us,” Kern explained. “I just locked them up and somehow by the grace of God we didn’t hit the inside wall and came out of it clean.”
Bear crossed the finish line behind Kern in the second position. Phil Bozell and Chris Coslek finished third and fourth, respectively, while Quinlan battled back in the final laps to round out the top-five.
For Kern, the win is one that she believes her team was owed. After much hard work and domination, they finally achieved their goal on Wednesday night.
“It was just determination, not willing to quit. I don’t think it has (sunk in). It might hit me in a couple days. But right now it hasn’t.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com