ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – When Alan Krimes ended a year-long winless drought Saturday at Lincoln Speedway, he turned to some fans outside victory lane and unleashed a celebratory scream.
“I still feel like screaming,” the mild-mannered Krimes said in victory lane.
It was a monumental win for Krimes, who ended one of the most troubling stretches of his racing career with a determined march to victory. The 41-year-old started seventh and hunted down Freddie Rahmer, Lincoln’s reigning track champion, with five laps to go for his first win since March 14, 2020.
“When you’re not running good, it’s just discouraging,” Krimes said in a phone interview Sunday. “You kind of feel like you’re wasting your time. … You start questioning why you do this.”
“Then you get days like Saturday and it kind of makes it all worth it,” Krimes added.
Krimes’ last win actually came in Lincoln’s last race before the two-month shutdown for COVID-19 last year. When racing resumed, Krimes finished in the top five three times in 20 races at the three-eighths-mile Abbottstown track.
Wholesale changes were made seemingly every other week over that span. Some led to modest gains but Krimes frequently found himself back to square one: an ill-handling race car.
“We won that one last year … and I thought we were going to be good all year,” Krimes said. “Then COVID hit, and we came back and we were junk.”
Krimes was far from junk on Saturday. He dusted off his old, trusty route to victory by controlling the bottom and not wavering from it. Rahmer, meanwhile, led most of the race on the top. But as the 30-lap feature wore on and as the track widened, Krimes’ drive off the bottom only got better.
With five laps to go, Krimes shot off turn two with a head of steam and surprised Rahmer on the other end of the track with a pass on the inside. From there, Krimes sailed to his 22nd career victory at Lincoln, passing Don Kreitz Jr. for 16th all-time in wins at the track.
“We’ve struggled the past four or five years getting the car to work, at least the way I want it to work, but we got close to where I wanted it to be Saturday,” Krimes said.
He’ll look to boost his win total at Williams Grove Speedway, too. The five-time winner at the Mechanicsburg half-mile will be driving Stewart Smith’s No. 27 full-time at the famed track.
In recent years Krimes has fought a right-rear tire that travels too far up the corner. On Saturday, he found some of his old mojo that led to Lincoln titles in 2014 and ‘16: a car gripped to the bottom.
“It seems like when I’ve been super fast that’s the way the car has felt to me,” Krimes said. “Hopefully we can continue it and keep that feeling in the car. It just gives me more confidence to run harder.”