Toledo, OH – Officials from the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards announced this week that the composite material, flange-fit body which debuted in 2015 on tracks one mile and less in length will be approved to compete on all tracks except Talladega and Daytona in 2016.
The Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet SS configurations approved for competition closely resemble the body styles currently being run in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Five Star RaceCar Bodies, NASCAR and ARCA cooperatively developed the body, which is also being run competitively in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West.
Officials from ARCA, Five Star and Hoosier Racing Tire participated in a test at Chicagoland Speedway on Wednesday, in preparation for the body’s 2016 season debut at tracks over one mile in length. Series veteran Will Kimmel piloted the #69 Kimmel Racing Ford Fusion, complete with the ARCA Ilmor 396 engine package, on a blustery fall day at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland tri-oval. Both the driver and his father, 9-time ARCA Racing Series champion crew chief Bill Kimmel, came away pleased, impressed and mildly surprised with the results. The Kimmel team qualified third, finished third and led 26 laps in the Chicagoland ARCA race this past June.
“I was really surprised at how good the car was,” Will Kimmel stated after the test. “Five-Star did a great job with the front to rear aero package. Everything worked really well. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was.”
It’s the second time the same Kimmel Racing Ford Fusion composite body car has been tested by ARCA Officials at tracks over one mile. The car first appeared on track during the ARCA sanctioned Open Test at Daytona Int’l Speedway in January. The Daytona test session featured single-car runs, as well as aggressive, multi-car drafting sessions. The same car was raced in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competition in 2015, most recently at Salem Speedway.
“The composite body program will result in us as a race team needing a smaller inventory of race cars to run the full series,” said Bill Kimmel. “We put the same chassis setup, springs and shocks in the car we tested as we had in the steel bodied car we raced at Chicagoland. We ran times that were every bit as fast, which did surprise us some. Will said the car felt a lot like the Cup car he raced this year at Kentucky and Kansas, which makes sense since the bodies are so similar. Overall, I’d definitely say the test was a success.”
Grayling Call, ARCA’s Director of Competition and Race Technology, oversaw the test session, and was equally impressed. ARCA officials gathered the data on the composite body and compared it to data gleaned from earlier wind tunnel testing of the composite body and data on the traditional, steel-body car in categories such as weight, tire wear and, of course, speed. Call said the information shows both cars can run side-by-side when it comes to short tracks, road courses, dirt tracks and speedways.
“It was a very good day,” Call said. “We did our homework and learned a great deal about these cars. We were very happy with the results of the test.”
In the composite body’s first year of ARCA eligibility in 2015, it was driven to five wins at short tracks for Venturini Motorsports, Mason Mitchell Motorsports and GMS Racing. Todd Gilliland won at Toledo Speedway in a Toyota Camry, Austin Wayne Self won at Winchester Speedway in a Ford Fusion and series champion Grant Enfinger put a Chevrolet SS in victory lane at Berlin Raceway, Salem Speedway and on the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile dirt. Cunningham Motorsports entered Penske Racing driver Austin Cindric in a composite body at Iowa Speedway, the largest asphalt oval to see a composite body race last year. Cindric led 29 laps and finished fourth.
“I’m looking forward to racing this car next year,” Will Kimmel concluded. “Between the ARCA Ilmor 396 engine and the composite body, I definitely feel ARCA is headed in the right direction.”
Story By: ARCA PR
Photo Credit: ARCA Photo