Salem: Rob Bunker preview

Rob Bunker is ready for his first ARCA RE/MAX Series race, after completing successful tests on the banked short tracks of Toledo (Ohio) Speedway and Salem (Ind.) Speedway. The Bridgewater, N.J., driver will take the green flag at Salem Speedway...

Rob Bunker is ready for his first ARCA RE/MAX Series race, after completing successful tests on the banked short tracks of Toledo (Ohio) Speedway and Salem (Ind.) Speedway. The Bridgewater, N.J., driver will take the green flag at Salem Speedway on Sunday, driving the No. 4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Charger for Cunningham Motorsports.

Bunker and the team simulated qualifying and race runs during last week's tests. Team owner and managing partner Kerry Scherer was elated with the results, which included a lap time of 17.6 seconds on the .555-mile Salem track -- almost four-tenths of a second faster than the 2006 pole position time.

"Rob was basically fearless; he was not intimidated at all by either race track," Scherer said. "He went right to where he needed to go in terms of his line and he was fast right from the very beginning. Salem is a very daunting track -- you have to run right up against the wall in [turns] three and four and it takes some people a long, long time to get up the gumption to get up there. He was right up against the wall from lap one. He ran times at Salem that are certainly capable of sitting on the pole."

The Salem race will be Bunker's first in a stock car, adding the element of close contact racing to his previous experience in open-wheel race cars. But he believes the team's preparation will give him the edge he needs.

"The one thing we still have to work on is driving in a pack," he acknowledged. "I'll have to get used to being bumped and banged around a little bit, but driving in a pack is driving in a pack, and that's something I've been doing since I was eight years old.

"Cunningham Motorsports really put together a fantastic car. It's such a rough and bumpy track, you need to have the best car you can underneath you. With a qualifying run that would have put us in first by four-tenths, you can only imagine we have a fantastic car."

Scherer recognizes the challenge of Bunker's first ARCA race, but he is quietly optimistic.

"This will be the first time he's on the race track with other race cars and that's going to be a learning experience for him. There's going to be a lot of beating and banging that you don't have in open-wheel," he said.

"I don't want to put any undue pressure on Rob. We want him to have a safe race, that's the first goal, and we would like him to drive all the laps. If we have good luck and we keep the fenders on and he gets to see the checkered flag, that's our second goal. But I really do believe we're capable of having a really big day ..."

-credit: robbunker.com

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Series ARCA