Andy Hillenburg, Frank Kimmel, and Steve Arpin: A Taste of ARCA History

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Andy Hillenburg, Frank Kimmel, and Steve Arpin: A Taste of ARCA History
Nick Laham/Getty Images

While Dale Earnhardt Jr. gives everybody a history lesson in Daytona with his Nationwide Series car, the ARCA RE/MAX Series fans are looking at their own type of history.

 

Andy Hillenburg’s ARCA Return?  

When the ARCA Series hits Iowa on July 10th, Hillenburg may be in the starting field.

Bryan Silas and his wife Misty are expecting the birth of their first child any day now. If the baby comes during race weekend activities, Hillenburg will be on stand-by and will be set to take over the No. 11 Rockingham Speedway/Palm Beach Grading Ford Fusion.

“Obviously, I am hoping that everything will work out and that Bryan will be able to compete in the race and witness the birth of his first child,” Hillenburg said in the team press release. “However, we need to be realistic and know that Misty could deliver at any time. For Bryan and Billy (Silas, father and owner of Palm Beach Grading) to come to me and tell me that they want me to drive really means a lot. We’ll be prepared for whatever circumstance may fall into our hands but next weekend is bound to have some excitement nonetheless.”

“I really don’t think I would want to have anyone else behind the wheel of my race car other than Andy (Hillenburg),” Silas said in the team press release. “He has molded me into the driver I am today. I don’t want to turn over the wheel but family comes first and my wife and child are the two most important people in my life. If I have to leave Iowa, I know Andy will do the team and our sponsors proud!”

Hillenburg raced in all three NASCAR divisions and started in the 2000 Indianapolis 500. He also had 60 ARCA starts, including three wins.

Silas currently sits 12th in points as the ARCA Series enters its ninth race of the season.

 

Twenty Years Ago, The Road Started for Kimmel

Twenty years ago yesterday (July 1st), Kimmel made his first ARCA Series start at Toledo Speedway.

Since then Kimmel has been racking up wins and championships and is widely respected as the best ARCA driver ever.

In his first start Kimmel started 21st and looked to complete all the laps but fell victim to an accident on lap 91 in a race Bob Keselowski won.

"I was driving for Jack Wallace, who was pretty much a one-man team, so we didn't really have a whole lot of help,” Kimmel said on the ARCA Racing Network. “We showed up with an open trailer and a pickup truck, so when we got there we didn't really have a lot of expectations. The main thing was wanting to qualify and get in to the race and try to run all day.

"We were pretty happy with the way everything was going, because we had a solid top-10, maybe even a solid top-five run. Then, later in the day, we ran over a chunk of lead going into Turn 3 and blew the right rear tire out. I spun and hit the wall and knocked the rear clip off the car. So initially it was going really well, and we were all excited to get a top-10 finish.

"It was just really neat being there and having the opportunity to do that, and then to end it like that it was frustrating. But it showed a lot of promise that if I got in the right car and right equipment, I could be competitive and win a race or two."

The first win came in 1994 at Toledo Speedway, which has now been followed by nine driver championships, three car owner champions, 74 career victories, and 41 career poles. The 74 victories include wins at tracks such as Atlanta, Berlin, Chicagoland, DuQuoin, Five Flags, Flat Rock, Flemington, Gateway, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Kil-Kare, Lake Erie, Charlotte, Michigan, Milwaukee, Nashville, Pocono, Salem, Shady Bowl, South Boston, Springfield, Talladega, Toledo, West Virginia,a and Winchester. To add to those impressive stats, he has finished in the top 10 in points for 18 consecutive seasons and is the all-time ARCA money winner with over $4 million in career earnings.

Kimmel says that back then he could not have imagined things turning as they have.

"At that point we were just happy that Wallace gave us the opportunity to go drive the car,” he said on the ARCA Racing Network. “We were pretty much a one-off deal and I had no clue I would be able to come back and do it again, so I felt very fortunate just to be able to do it once.”

 

Steve Arpin Goes Back to His Roots

Once Steve Arpin gets done at Daytona, he will head back to his roots on Wednesday July 7th.

Arpin will race at Deer Creek Speedway in Minnesota, his first dirt track past the U.S./Canada border, driving the No. 55 Mike’s Hard Lemonade-sponsored/Mike Sorenson-prepared modified car.

"I am more excited than anyone can imagine to come back to Deer Creek, it has been way too long,” Arpin said in the team press release. "It's going to mean a lot to me to be able to get home and see everyone I used to race each and every week with and also all the fans that have continued to follow and support us as we make our way up through the ranks. I couldn't pick a better situation to be able to get back on the dirt! The Gopher was the first race I won at Deer Creek years ago, hopefully we will have a shot to do it again.”

“I have never had a chance to watch Steve in a dirt modified so that really gives me something to look forward to,” Billy Venturini said in the press release. “As for being nervous, absolutely not. I have all the confidence in Steve and his ability. Plus I don't own this one. I am just there to have fun and enjoy the night."

Arpin has six career wins at Deer Creek Speedway with his first victory coming in 2005.

For fans who are going to watch, he will be hosting a question and answer session and signing autographs from 4:30pm-6:00pm with his ARCA car also on display for fans to see.

 

NEXT ARCA RACE

Race: 2010 Prairie Meadows 200

Date: July 10th

Track: Iowa Speedway

Practice: 10:00am—11:35am CT and 1:00pm—1:50pm CT

Qualifying: 5:15pm CT

Race Start Time: 8:00pm CT

Televised: Race will be LIVE on Speed while the ARCA Racing Network ---http://arcaracing.com (ARN) will have live timing and scoring throughout the day

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