All-time series winner, record holder in series championships and most successful series driver are just some of the titles attached to Frank Kimmel.
Add matchmaker as well.
Brad Keselowski credits Kimmel, the 10-time ARCA champion and longtime family friend, with introducing him to girlfriend Paige White.
“Frank has done a lot of tremendous things,’’ Keselowski said this week in a conference call with reporters. “I can remember him from as far back to the first time I met him when I was 8 years old, and we used to call him the big kid because he was a big guy, right, and he would walk around with squirt guns and squirt us as kids. We’d play with him back and forth and we had a grand old time.’’
But it goes beyond that.
In interviews for an NBC SportsWorld story on Keselowski in July, White and Kimmel discussed the role Kimmel played in the early courtship of Keselowski and White.
White said she met Kimmel and his family in 2013. White was standing with Kimmel at Kentucky Speedway when Keselowski approached.
Keselowski later sent a message to Kimmel’s son that he wanted Kimmel to call him. Kimmel did.
“Brad just said, ‘I have a funny question for you,’ ” Kimmel recalled Keselowski telling him.
Keselowski asked Kimmel about White.
“I told him that’s a great little girl,’” Kimmel said.
White and Keselowski met at Martinsville that fall but White admitted “it was super awkward. You could tell he was trying so hard. You know how it is when you meet someone for the first time that you think you might like.’’
He asked her to dinner but she turned him down. White, the daughter of racer, was going to watch her father compete that night.
Their paths crossed again at Texas Motor Speedway. Keselowski won the Xfinity race there and gave White his cowboy hat that the winner received. He asked her to hang out with him that weekend but she turned him down because she was with family.
A couple of weeks later at Homestead-Miami Speedway, she agreed to go to dinner with Keselowski – along with Kimmel and his wife, Donna. White went there that weekend with the Kimmels because he was competing in the Camping World Truck race.
All three were to go to dinner with Keselowski after the Xfinity race. He won. His victory lane duties delayed their dinner plans. Eventually, they went out to dinner.
The next night, they went to dinner again and White had the Kimmels join them again.
“It made it easier that people were with us,’’ White told NBC Sports in May.
The following week she and Keselowski had dinner together in the Charlotte, N.C., area.
Asked in May how White has changed him, Keselowski said: “I feel like I have someone closer to me to talk to which is good.”
He noted last fall’s Sprint Cup race at Texas where he and Jeff Gordon made contact late in the race when Keselowski made a move for the lead. Gordon confronted Keselowski on pit road after the race. After Kevin Harvick pushed Keselowski back toward Gordon, a melee ensued, leading NASCAR to suspend four members of Hendrick Motorsports and penalize two of the organization’s crew chiefs.
Keselowski said White proved comforting after that.
“When everything happened at Texas, I felt pretty confident that I handled it right,’’ Keselowski said. “When it was all said and done, you always question it, you’re going to question yourself, that’s just normal. When I looked at her on the plane home and asked her if she was proud of the way I handled it and she said yes, I felt like mentally I was able to move on immediately.”
White delivered the couple’s first child, Scarlett, in May. Keselowski revealed in a blog last week that Scarlett faced a potentially life-threatening medical issue in June. Keselowski wrote that his daughter has recovered and doing well.