Salem Short-Track ARCA RE/MAX Series Show-Down on the Horizon; Round 2 for Bill France Triple Crown SALEM IN (9-10-08) -- It resembles Bristol; probably acts more like Darlington, but it is markedly Salem. And when the night lights shine...
Salem Short-Track ARCA RE/MAX Series Show-Down on the Horizon; Round 2 for Bill France Triple Crown
SALEM IN (9-10-08) -- It resembles Bristol; probably acts more like Darlington, but it is markedly Salem.
And when the night lights shine down upon the ARCA RE/MAX Series modern-day gladiators, race fans are in for a treat when the Eddie Gilstrap Motors ARCA Fall Classic by Advance Auto Parts rolls out Saturday night, September 13th at Salem Speedway.
Rough and abrasive, the track surface on the historic Salem high-banks is certainly not for the timid or weak at heart. It's a 200-lap wrestling match with an old, quirky oval set in her ways; then add 30-plus 3,400 lb steel tanks at a lightning-quick pace and the sparks fly and the tempers flare.
"It's part of Salem," said eight-time Salem winner Frank Kimmel. "You've got to race the race track; not so much each other. When people get to racing each other too soon, they usually get the hook out and haul 'em away. It's not an easy track -- one of the more challenging ones on the tour, but, without question, it's a blast to drive.
"It's also our home track, so the place carries special meaning for us. About half the fans there are rooting for us, and the other half aren't. It's kinda cool."
It's also been more than four years since the Clarksville, Indiana hometown hero (for some) has won at Salem. Prior to that, he could hardly be beat. In fact, from 2000 through 2002, Kimmel strung together a five-race win streak, which hadn't been done there since Jack Bowsher pulled it off in the early 1960s.
"You know, it's not just Salem. It's so much harder to win anywhere in this series. To be honest with you, it's so tough to win here anymore that you're lucky to win once at Salem. There are just too many variables that can reach out and bite you.
"You've got cars bouncing off the wall and each other all night. Then you've got the pit road thing too. It's so tight down there; you can just as easily lose the race down there as you can on the track. Experience definitely plays a roll, but luck is also a big factor when it comes to Salem."
After going a full year without a single victory, Kimmel seems back on track posting back-to-back wins recently on the mile-dirts at Springfield and DuQuoin. He now has 73 career wins, just six shy of Iggy Katona's all-time mark of 79.
Kimmel also leads the Bill France Triple Crown title headed to Salem, the second leg of the prestigious award for 2008.
The '08 version includes the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile-dirt, the rough and tumble Salem short-track and the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.
Kimmel dominated at DuQuoin with 96 laps-led of 102 total. He heads to Salem with a five point lead in the Bill France Triple Crown standings over Patrick Sheltra.
Past Bill France Triple Crown champions include Davey Allison, Bob Keselowski, Tim Steele, Jason Jarrett, Bill Baird and Frank Kimmel to name a few.
While Kimmel leads the France Triple Crown standings, he is not however leading the overall national championship standings headed to Salem, which, in itself, is an anomaly for sure. After a record nine series championships, it's been an astonishing 10 years since someone other than Kimmel has led the points this late in the year.
With just four events left in '08, Kimmel trails a trio of SunTrust Rookies by 245 points.
Manteca, California driver and Formula 1 veteran Scott Speed, in Eddie Sharp's Red Bull Toyota, is the championship leader, but not by much. Roush Fenway Racing development driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., coming off back-to-back SIM Factory Pole Awards at DuQuoin and Chicagoland, is only 50 points away in second.
Matt Carter, who replaced Kimmel as the driver of Larry Clement's #46 Ford Fusion in 2008, is third in points, 160 away from the leader. Interestingly, Carter out-ran all his aforementioned counterparts at Salem in the spring with a third place finish behind only Justin Allgaier and Ken Schrader.
Allgaier is currently fifth in points, 265 out. Allgaier is not only the defending Eddie Gilstrap Motors 200 race winner at Salem, the Springfield, Illinois driver also won there in the spring, becoming the first driver to win back-to-back at Salem since Shelby Howard swept both events in 2003.
The ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series joins the ARCA RE/MAX Series for the same-day, double-header event. Practice for the Eddie Gilstrap ARCA Fall Classic by Advance Auto Parts is from 1:05 PM to 2:35 PM followed by SIM Factory Pole Qualifying at 4:00 PM. The Advance Auto Parts 50-lap main event for the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series is scheduled to roll off at 5:30 followed by the Eddie Gilstrap Motors ARCA Fall Classic 200-lapper at 7:15.