The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards was racing the uncertain weather throughout Friday’s 50-lap race at Pocono Raceway. With a summer downpour just minutes before driver introductions, the teams had to play the waiting game into the early evening. Not only that, but more threatening skies during the early portion of the event set up some very interesting strategies since teams were unaware if the race would make the full distance.
Justin Boston and Brennan Poole, along with fast qualifier Mason Mitchell, set the pace in the early laps. Early cautions involving contenders Grant Enfinger, Frank Kimmel and Matt Tifft allowed some drivers to roll the dice and pit during the opening laps for fuel. ARCA rules stated that drivers must pit at least once prior to 10 laps remaining or they will be penalized five laps at the conclusion of the race.
Among the drivers that elected to come in under the first two cautions were Justin Allison, Will Kimmel and Tom Hessert. As the skies began to look more promising, the race reached halfway and became official. The leading Venturini Motorsports cars of Boston and his usual spotter Poole now faced a tough decision; pit now or wait and see if a caution would fly. Meanwhile, Allison was moving through the field and made a daring pass for fourth at the time under Will Kimmel.
“We were getting a good run off of (turn) three and drafted up to him pretty quick,” said Allison. “I had to go for it. If I backed off I was in trouble. I never would have got by him then.”
Poole was in the final of the group to come down pit road at the very last moment as the race remained green. Allison then found himself up front and held off Kimmel the rest of the way for his first career ARCA win.
Allison became the third member of his legendary racing family to win an ARCA race and is now the 18th straight different winner at Pocono.
The winning a gamble that was not even intended from the beginning, but it worked out in the end.
“We didn’t plan on pitting at first,” said Allison. “We didn’t really know what the weather was going to do, and then once we got to about lap 16 we pitted because they were checking the radar and it kind of disappeared a little bit. Luckily, it went green flag (the rest of the way). Definitely I’m happy the way this one turned out.”
For Will Kimmel, it was a similar strategy that resulted in a career-best run and almost a first career win. He attributed much of it to his former multi-time championship-winning crew chief and father Bill Kimmel.
“That’s where having a really experienced crew chief comes in handy,” said Will Kimmel. “Dad has been in this situation so many times before that he just makes calls and they come naturally like that.”
While the win got away from Kimmel after that pass for position in the middle stages, the runner-up finish was not entirely anything to frown upon with what his team normally faces.
“It’s a hard one to swallow like that for sure, but me and my dad run our family-owned team and we have one primary sponsor for all the TV races,” said Kimmel. “This is a big day for us so for us to be this close we are definitely going to take it and run. I’m excited about it, no doubt.”
Tom Hessert ran the same strategy and finished third, while Poole and Boston had to settle for fourth and fifth.
Speed51.com powered by JEGS will have more to come on the strategy that failed to work out for some of the fastest drivers in the field.
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @Aaron_Creed. Photo credits: Speed51.com