Salem: Race report

Kimmel fights off adversity, Jarrett for Salem glory. SALEM IN (4-28-02) Hometown favorite Frank Kimmel, in the ...

Kimmel fights off adversity, Jarrett for Salem glory.

SALEM IN (4-28-02) Hometown favorite Frank Kimmel, in the #46 Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford, fought off a barrage of adversity Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway including a late-race charge from Jason Jarrett to win the action-packed Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200.

Runner-up finisher Jarrett, within 20 laps of the finish, had his fender inside Kimmel's rear quarter on several occasions but in the end, could not find a way around the popular Jeffersonville, Indiana driver. Kimmel's margin of victory was a mere .161 seconds at the checkered flag.

The victory for Kimmel, his fourth consecutive there, marked his sixth Salem win overall making him the all-time ARCA RE/MAX Series winner at the storied half-mile, high-banked oval.

"These Salem wins mean more to me than most," said Kimmel in victory lane. "We've got more support here than anywhere. It was great racing with Jason (Jarrett) there at the end; I want to thank him for racing me so clean; he was close enough a time or two to wiggle me out of the way, but he's a pro and raced me right. Today was a total team effort; this is a brand new race car and it always takes some time to work the bugs out; but the crew hustled all day, fought back when they needed to and kept me in the game."

Andy Belmont, in the lead pack all afternoon, finished a solid third in the AOL-Southern Pan Services Ford. Brookville, Ohio driver Randy VanZant was stout all day finishing a career-best fourth in the Devers Truck Body Pontiac while Matt Hagans, making his career-first start, finished fifth in his own Eagle Creek Aviation Services Pontiac.

Kimmel, in the early going, made several unscheduled pit stops to make repairs to the right front wheel assembly and struggled to stay on the lead lap while the likes of Belmont, Jarrett and 16-year-old Shelby Howard took their turns leading the pack. Fortunately for Kimmel, 10 cautions for a variety of the typical Salem scrapes and wall bangers throughout the 200-lap race gave the crew ample time to make the necessary repairs. There were no injuries.

With Old Milwaukee Pole Award Qualifying rained out the day before, the field was set according to 2001 car owner points placing Kimmel on the pole with Jarrett alongside. Kimmel jumped out into the lead at the onset before vibrations in the right front would leave him fighting to stay on the lead lap. While Kimmel worked out his problems on pit road, Jarrett, Belmont and Howard swapped the lead back and forth for much of the race as Kimmel systematically worked his way back towards the front. Belmont, who led 73 laps, second in the laps-led category to Kimmel's 85, saw his chance for victory slip away when he bounced his Ford Taurus off the wall as did Jarrett a short time later. Howard, who was the Loctite Halfway Leader, eventually fell out with engine failure; and by lap 140, Kimmel was back in the lead. Although Jarrett kept his Mary Louise Miller owned Pontiac within continual striking distance, Kimmel would not be denied in the remaining laps.

Todd Bowsher, with new sponsorship from GFS Marketplace, stayed in the hunt all afternoon and finished sixth in his father Jack Bowsher's Ford Taurus, the last car on the lead lap. Mooresville, North Carolina driver AJ Henriksen, who started 24th, finished seventh in the Engineered Components-Fastenal Chevrolet earning the Hoosier Performance Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions. Damon Lusk, in the Dynatek-One Race America Chevrolet, fought back with a banged up racecar to finish eighth. In doing so, the Kennewick, Washington native takes over the championship points lead ahead of Kimmel and Chad Blount who fell from first to third in points after finishing a disappointing 28th. Mike Buckley steered the Midwest Mall Fronts Chevrolet to ninth at the finish with Norm Benning trailing in tenth in his own unsponsored Chevrolet.

-arca-

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Mike Buckley , Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Chad Blount , Jason Jarrett , Damon Lusk , Todd Bowsher , Norm Benning , Matt Hagan