To pit or not to pit late. That was the dilemma facing ARCA racing veterans Frank Kimmel and Ken Schrader on lap 182 of yesterday's Hantz Group 200 at Toledo Speedway.
Kimmel, the polesitter and leader of every lap of the ARCA RE/MAX Series event up to that point, decided to pull into pit row. Schrader, who sat directly behind Kimmel, appeared to be following Kimmel's car into the pit, but he veered back out on the track at the last second to take over the lead.
Schrader then held off a charge from Kimmel and young Justin Allgaier to take his 13th career victory in the RE/MAX Series. Schrader won by a margin of just .092 seconds over Allgaier after flying in from Charlotte following a NASCAR race there Saturday night. It was the fourth time Schrader took the checkered flag in Toledo.
"I kind of wanted to [pit], but the crew chief didn't want to," Schrader said.
"The call was six of one and half dozen of another. Then I knew the only shot I had was just to keep Frank busy, and I didn't realize how good Justin was on the top."
Schrader came all the way from the back of the field to win the Hantz Group 200, steadily climbing from his No. 27 spot at the start. It was the fourth time that Schrader finished just ahead of Kimmel on the half-mile oval at Toledo Speedway since 1999.
Allgaier, who is just 19-years-old, matched his highest career finish, which also occurred at Toledo Speedway in 2004.
"This is great," Allgaier said. "Kenny has helped me since I was little. To run with that guy is pretty awesome. This is great to come out here and run second."
Kimmel, who has won nine ARCA titles in Toledo, said it was his call to pit with 18 laps remaining after a spinout in turn 4.
"We were in no-man's land there with 20 to go - whether to pit or not," Kimmel said.
"When I came in I thought some of them would stay out, but I thought more of them would come in. It didn't work out that way."
Three cautions were called in the final 24 laps of the race forcing two green-white-checker finishes, while pushing the race to 214 total laps.
After the second green-white-checker re-start, Allgaier tried to pass Schrader on the outside, and Kimmel pressed him on his bumper.
"We were right there on him at the end," Kimmel said. "But you can't knock him out of the way. It was a great race. We ended up third, but we probably should have won."
Kimmel finished third, just .283 seconds behind Schrader. Allgaier earned the Hoosier Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions.
"I'm not surprised about Justin," Schrader said. "I've know him since he was born. He comes from good stock. The kid can drive the heck out of a race car."
Brian Keselowski and Ryan Foster both battled on the lead lap throughout and finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Kimmel, who entered the race ranked fifth in the ARCA RE/MAX point standings, moved up to second. Kimmel made his debut in 1990 and is a seven-time ARCA champion.
"I just like this place," Kimmel said. "It was the scene of our first win, and my first ARCA race ever was right here. This was great racing here with Kenny again. I think we had him pretty beat today, but it doesn't matter. We ran third."
Schrader, a Nextel Cup veteran who finished 10th in Saturday's Nextel Open in North Carolina, was placed in the 27th spot because he did not qualify his car on Saturday. He joked to the large crowd after the race, saying his main goal was "not to put any marks on the car."
"I just love to come here to Toledo," Schrader said. "It doesn't get any easier here. But it was a lot of fun. It was a heck of a good race."
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.
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