Salem Short Track Next Stage for ARCA Title Contenders Lofton & Kligerman; ARCA Fall Classic Saturday Night, Sept 19 SALEM IN (9-15-09) - It's difficult to imagine a more intense/exciting scenario than what's on the way this weekend. With a ...
Salem Short Track Next Stage for ARCA Title Contenders Lofton & Kligerman; ARCA Fall Classic Saturday Night, Sept 19
SALEM IN (9-15-09) - It's difficult to imagine a more intense/exciting scenario than what's on the way this weekend.
With a championship at stake and a rock 'em sock 'em, rough-and-ready short track waiting impatiently on their arrival, championship contenders Justin Lofton and Parker Kligerman are headed to Salem Speedway for this Saturday's Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic. With just three races remaining in 2009, Lofton and rookie Kligerman are tied for the lead with the ole war horse Frank Kimmel looming in third.
Lofton gave up 35 points to Kligerman last Sunday on the New Jersey Motorsports Park road course. He is not, however, ready to give up the championship.
"We went into this year running for a championship; that has not changed," said Lofton, who finished second at Salem in the spring. "We are going to attack Salem 110%. Our goal is to win, period. But we know we have to be smart. We can't take chances like you would have in the spring. We must be smart, be aware."
In addition to the challenge of the legendary, high-banked half-mile southern-Indiana short track, which is rougher than a corn cob, Lofton understands that luck and strategy weigh-in heavily on the Salem equation.
Last spring at Salem, Lofton and his Eddie Sharp Racing Lofton Cattle Toyota team rallied around a pit strategy that, in the end, did not play out in their favor.
"It was just bad pit strategy. It was no one's fault. Sometimes it works in your favor; sometimes it doesn't. We only pitted once, put right-side tires on it around lap 80, somewhere in there. We were hoping for a caution a little bit later to put four (tires) on it. We never got it. We ran the rest of the way and burned up the right rear.
"If we only get the chance to pit once this time, I can assure you we're going to put four on it this time.
"Track position is everything there. You don't want to start in the back with 50 to go, not without new tires anyway. Then there's the track itself. We all know how Salem can reach out and bite in a heartbeat. But if your pit strategy doesn't match how the race plays out, then you're not going to win it anyway. With a caution at the right time, our pit strategy would have worked great, but it just didn't work out that way."
Lofton won the Menards Pole award back in the spring, led the most laps and was consistently, on average, the fastest car on track. Yet, he ran out of time and tires working his way back through and finished second with Kligerman trailing in third. Patrick Sheltra, on much fresher tires, passed Lofton and Kligerman late in the race and walked away from both in the end to win.
Despite Lofton's frustration regarding his last run at Salem, the Westmorland, California driver can't wait to go back.
"I love Salem. Every track should be like Salem. It's old; it's rough with a lot of really cool characteristics. You run right against the wall in (turns) three and four. It's just perfect for these big heavy cars with all their horsepower.
"It's wild. You run the wall in three and four and you use a bump to put you there - kind of like a launching pad. If you're going to run the fast pace, you have to run the right line through there. It's so tight, a lot like Darlington. But you can't put your car in the wall and tear it up either - fine line there. "I absolutely love the place. I have so much fun racing there. It would be so enjoyable to walk away with a win there, especially with the season we're having.
"I'm taking one of my favorite cars. Same car we won with at Berlin and Toledo. The car just fits me like a glove."
Salem 3rd Leg of Bill France Four Crown
Salem also marks round three of the 2009 Bill France Four Crown. a separate point fund within the 21-race ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule that tests drivers on a challenging combination of venues, including a dirt track (The Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, September 7), a road course (The South Jersey Building Trades 150 at New Jersey Motorsports Park, September 13), a short track (The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic at Salem Speedway, September 19) and a speedway (The Kansas Lottery 150 at Kansas Speedway, October 1). Former Bill France Four Crown winners include Davey Allison, Frank Kimmel, Tim Steele, Bob Keselowski, Jason Jarrett and Bill Venturini to name a few.
In addition to the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will join the raceday slate with a 50-lap main event. The ARCA Truck race will mark the season championship finale for the 11-year tour.
Practice for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic 200 is from 1:05 PM to 2:35 PM followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 4:00 PM. The ARCA Lincoln Welders 50 goes at 5:30 followed by prerace and driver introductions for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic, scheduled to roll just after 7:00 PM. All on-track activity from Salem will be featured live in streaming video and audio at ARCAracing.com.