Race Weekend Central

Jason Kitzmiller Wants to Be Competitive Running ARCA Part Time

In addition to fielding Grant Enfinger full time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, CR7 Motorsports fields its No. 97 in a part-time capacity in the ARCA Menards Series. Despite only 46 starts in the series, the organization has stepped up its game in 2024, including hiring Frank Kimmel as its ARCA crew chief.

Kimmel of course is the ARCA GOAT, leading the series in many statistical categories including championships [10] and wins [80].

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“Yeah, that seems to help for sure,” CR7 ARCA driver Jason Kitzmiller told Frontstretch prior to the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It’s been good. He kind of hit the ground running and taking care of the ARCA stuff and Grand National Super Series stuff that we are going to and pleased with how things are going.”

Despite only running three of the first six races in the 2024 ARCA season, Kitzmiller is pleased with the performance.

“Good,” he said. “I mean we did not have a very good run at Talladega Superspeedway with the radiator. We had a P6 at Daytona International Speedway. Which we got hit on lap 3, so that was not good but we salvaged a good finish for what we had. This is just the third race so we are kind of seeing where we are at here tonight.

“We didn’t qualify as well as we wanted to do but we’ve got a lot of race ahead.”

Kitzmiller wound up ninth at Charlotte after starting 15th. It marked his sixth top 10 in his 25th career start. CR7 overall lacks an ARCA victory. In its 46 races, the team has two top fives – both achieved by Enfinger in 2023 – and 14 top 10s.

Enfinger competed in the ARCA race at Phoenix Raceway, albeit for a different team, and there are no plans for him to climb back into an ARCA racecar at this time.

Kitzmiller plans to run three to four more ARCA races in ’24 with guaranteed starts at Michigan International Speedway and the fall Kansas Speedway event.

Additionally, Landen Lewis will pilot the No. 97 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Lewis competed at BMS for the team last year, though he ended up with a 20th-place DNF.

The team does not have the same funding as top-tier teams such as Joe Gibbs Racing and Venturini Motorsports, but Kitzmiller is pleased with the program. It helps that he and team owner Codie Rohrbaugh are family.

“Codie treats us fair,” Kitzmiller added. “He’s my nephew by marriage. Time is a factor and money is a factor. I cannot complain about how we get treated. We like and try to be competitive.”

The team uses Ilmor engines in its ARCA cars and all its trucks and ARCA cars come out of the same shop. The team is not running as many ARCA races in part because of its desire for Enfinger to make the Truck Series playoffs.

Kimmel joining the organization was not a coincidence. He’s known Enfinger’s crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz for years. “There’s a lot of history there,” Kitzmiller stated. Stankiewicz worked for Kimmel before; it was one of Stankiewicz’s first jobs.

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Long-term, Kitzmiller intends on his son Isaac Kitzmiller taking over the reins of the No. 97. Isaac turned 17 on Feb. 25, 2024 so he could compete full time in ARCA as soon as next year. Father-son racing together in ARCA is still a few years away though, Jason said.

“For us, it’s about timing,” he continued. “He [Isaac] runs a full Legends schedule. He’s in the Team Hornaday Development plan. So last year he ran 62 or 66 races so we fit my racing around his racing. For us, to get the better bang for the buck, I’d rather race the big racetracks for the cost. You know the cost to run Charlotte is not a whole lot different would be similar to running Berlin so I’d rather run Charlotte.”

While ARCA has received criticism for its purses, raising those would not entice CR7 to enter more ARCA races.

“The cost is not a whole lot different,” Kitzmiller noted. “We still got the travel, the equipment costs money, the people; it just is not cheap. Not a whole lot of people making money off racing. Maybe some team owners do OK and I’d imagine Cup drivers. But doing it yourself, it is not a great investment.”

About the author

Frontstretch.com
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Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.

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