(Photos courtesy ARCA Racing)

Will Kimmel hopes to cap off 100th career ARCA start with a win

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Veteran ARCA driver Will Kimmel is on a roll.

Kimmel and wife Erica joyously announced earlier this week that they are expecting their first child in mid-February, potentially spawning a fourth generation of Kimmel family racers.

And now Kimmel is preparing for a personal milestone, his 100th career ARCA Racing Series start in the 54th SuperChevyStores.com 100 on August 21 at the one-mile dirt track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in the state capital city of Springfield.

It’ll be Kimmel’s second bid at No. 100. He was on-track and ready to take the green flag for his milestone last Saturday at Berlin (Michigan), but decided he’d rather set the milestone at Springfield.

“Springfield’s always been special to me,” Kimmel said in an ARCA Racing news release. “The list of names who have won there is so big. … It’d be so cool to be on that list.

Will Kimmel goes for his 100th ARCA start on Aug. 21 in Springfield, Illinois.
Will Kimmel goes for his 100th ARCA start on Aug. 21 in Springfield, Illinois.

“Winning in our 100th start would be ideal at Springfield, but at this point, we’d take a win no matter where. But that’s exactly why I didn’t run Berlin. We weren’t going to run the whole race and I didn’t want that to be my 100th. We’re coming full tilt for Springfield.”

Springfield has served as a good host for Kimmel in the seventh race there since his first entry there in 2009. He finished fourth in 2011, fifth in 2014, eighth in 2009 and 11th in 2012.

He wound up in a crash in last year’s race, something he hopes to bounce back from in No. 100.

“Based on the success we’ve already had there, if things go our way we can compete at Springfield … same at DuQuoin,” Kimmel said. “For a small team like us, the dirt tracks are the big equalizers.

“You can never really go there and know exactly what to expect out of the race track, so you shoot for the middle on set-up and hope you’re close enough. We go with what we’ve done in the past, and tweak our set-ups as we go.

“We’ve tweaked our set-ups from when Frank (Kimmel/8-time Springfield winner) won all his races. If you watch some of those past races, if the breaks go our way, we’re one of the fastest cars at those places.

“Weather plays a big part as to which way you go. One of my favorite races at Springfield was a couple years ago when we had all that rain and there was so much moisture in the track. You had an outside groove … something you don’t always get at Springfield, but what a cool race … so much fun to drive.”

When pressed to rate Springfield on his list of favorite tracks, Kimmel said it’s in his personal top-3, including Daytona and Salem (Indiana) Speedway.

“I’d say Springfield is second only to Salem,” he said. “I want to win Daytona in the worst way, but you have to rely on other people, other cars at places like Daytona … and your equipment has to be right on the money.

“At Springfield, our little team has a fair shot to win. Winning there in my 100th start would be a dream come true. Winning anywhere in my 100th start would be a dream come true, but it’d be a way bigger deal for me, personally, at Springfield. You look down through the list of winners there, and you’ll know what I mean. I’d just like to win on the dirt.”

NOTES: Here’s a quick list of some of the past winners at Springfield: Curtis Turner (’63), Don White (’66, ’67, ’72), Al Unser (’72), Jack Bowsher (’73), Roger McCluskey (’74), Ramo Stott (’76, ’77, ’80), AJ Foyt (’79), Joe Ruttman (’80), Dean Roper (’81, ’82, ’83, ’83, ’85, ’86), Bob Keselowski (’87, ’88, ’89, ’93), Bobby Bowsher (’91, ’92), Tim Steele (’96, ’97), Ken Schrader (’98), Bill Baird (’99, ’04), Justin Allgaier (’06), Parker Kligerman (’09), Frank Kimmel (’00, ’01, ’02. ’03, ’05, ’07, ’08, ’12), Kevin Swindell (’14) and AJ Fike (’15). … Practice for the SuperChevyStores.com 100 runs from 9 to 10 a.m. CT on Aug. 21. Qualifying takes place at 11:15 a.m. and the race takes the green flag at 1:30 p.m. The race will be televised live on the American Sports Network and streamed on AmericanSportsNet.com.

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Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.