Each January, the New Year’s Bash draws dozens of Street Stock competitors to Dillon Motor Speedway. Frankie Kimmel, the son of 10-time ARCA Menards Series Champion Frank Kimmel, will be one of those drivers looking for the big Street Stock victory.
A former winner in the Street Stock portion of the Polar Bear 150 at Rockingham Speedway, Kimmel will be back in the New Year’s Bash after a year removed from competing in the race. He will be driving the same car he took to the Halloween 200 last year at Salem Speedway, running well before mechanical issues ended his day early.
“I run a car for Roger Williams out of St. Paul, Indiana,” said Kimmel. “It’s a car my dad built in 2010. We ran the Halloween 200 at Salem this year. We made it out with a motor issue; when they run out of water from a hole in the radiator, they don’t run very long. Our day was cut a little short running second there.
“We had a 602 crate down here and said something to Roger about coming down and running it. He sent the car down. Dad has been putting in a lot of hours at DGR. They’ve been really nice to us, letting us use the setup plate and stuff. I’m not sure how we’re going to run, but we’re excited to go out there and give it a shot.”
While Kimmel has enjoyed some big wins in Street Stock racing, he’s still looking for a win in the New Year’s Bash. He knows his team is capable of a strong run based on their history.
“We’ve had a lot of success. I haven’t heard if Street Stocks are going back to Rockingham. I’m lucky enough to have my name on The Rock there, and it’s pretty cool. We’ve had a lot of good runs. I’ve had a lot of help with a guy named Frank Oriti. There’s three Franks when we show up at the track. He’s Franko, it fits. When I stopped racing at Salem for my parents, he took over.
“Without him, I’m not sure where I would have stopped racing. He’s kept me going year after year. We might only run one or two races, but it keeps the itch going.”
Kimmel grew up competing in events like the Halloween 200 at Salem Speedway. He considers the New Year’s Bash one of the biggest events for Street Stock racers in the country.
“It’s hard for Street Stocks to pick one big one. They run a big race at New Hampshire. My dad had races at Kentucky, Bristol, Iowa, Rockingham. Salem has. Abig history with their Halloween 200. What Ron is doing is really good.
For guys who run the MASS Series, this is the Snowball Derby. This is their weekend. I think, across the nation, it’s in the top three. For me, Salem is always bigger because it’s home for me, but I’d love to win one of these, that’s for sure.”
While he did not race in the event in 2020, he finished second to Gary Ledbetter, Jr. in 2019. Ledbetter has won five of the previous 10 New Year’s Bash events, making him the man to beat.
“We ran second to him and it was pretty close. We were similar and pretty far ahead of third. Last year, I helped Chuckie Barnes and he had everyone covered. I really don’t know. His car just handles really well. He doesn’t make any mistakes and handles traffic well. He puts the whole race together. He runs there multiple times a year, which helps.
“I really struggle with where to be on the race track off turn four. I’ve tried everywhere, low, high, I just never have enough. In traffic, I could catch him, but in open traffic he’d drive away
With the work put into his ride for this year, Kimmel believes he can contend with the front runners for a win on Sunday.
“I’m really excited for this year. If everything worked the way it’s supposed to work, hopefully we’ll have something to compete with those guys.”
Race fans unable to attend the New Year’s Bash can click here to watch Sunday’s race live on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo