Belmont finishes without brakes at Salem

Belmont Finishes Without Brakes at Salem Now 3rd In ARCA Points by Rich Romer With a record ARCA/Salem crowd squarely in his corner, hometown hero Frank Kimmel gave the locals exactly what they came to see a convincing win on the home turf.

Belmont Finishes Without Brakes at Salem
Now 3rd In ARCA Points

by Rich Romer

With a record ARCA/Salem crowd squarely in his corner, hometown hero Frank Kimmel gave the locals exactly what they came to see a convincing win on the home turf. Kimmel, of nearby Jeffersonville, Indiana, turned back one final charge from Tim Steele to win the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway earning his 24th career ARCA RE/MAX Series victory, and fourth overall on the renowned half-mile, high-banked oval.

A late-race caution set the stage for a three-lap shoot-out to the finish with Kimmel leading over Steele, the only other driver on the lead lap. But on this day, Steele was no match for Kimmel and had to settle for second by a margin of a half second at the final stripe. Jeff Finley, in the John Bailey Excavating Chevrolet, finished third one lap down ahead of Jason Jarrett, who won the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie honors for finishing fourth in the ML Motorsports Chevrolet. Todd Bowsher, in the Jack Bowsher Racing Ford, chased Jarrett to the stripe and finished fifth recording his career-best finish.

Kimmel won a record Salem/ARCA payout of $17,445, which included the 4,000 Pork Pole-Win Bonus for winning from the pole, his third consecutive Old Milwaukee Pole Award after four events. In addition, the defending RE/MAX Series champion and current point leader led 146 laps of the 200-lap race giving it up only briefly to Steele a couple of times and once to Tracy Leslie. Leslie, the defending race winner, was stout all day and led 29 laps before the rear end failed in his Cavin Councilor-owned Target Saws and Blades Chevy ending his day 79 laps shy of the finish.

Andy Belmont started the race from the 7th spot on the grid. "The team gave me a great car. We were good for 3rd or 4th place. I didn't have anything for Kimmell or Steele but I was clearly best in class. And then on a restart, Blaise Alexander ran into me. He was trying to pass three wide on the bottom of the track and when we got to the corner there was nowhere for him to go but up the track and into me. He hit me so hard that it knocked a brake rod out spilling brake fluid onto the rotor and starting a fire. I was able to nurse the car around to the entrance to pit road but the brakes locked up. It took the rescue crews 3 laps before I could convince them to put out the fire. They wanted me to evacuate the car, but I knew it was brake fluid that was burning. Then it took another 10 laps to get a tow back to my pit stall. In all I lost about 20 laps to the accident. When the crew got the car fixed, I had to brakes but was still able to go out and finish the race. By being careful I made up a couple of laps, passed some cars, and finished 13th in the race."

The race was slowed by five cautions for 38 laps, one of which involved four cars on the backstretch triggered by rookie Michael Melton who, five laps down, lost control of his Chevy Monte Carlo coming off turn two. Melton's machine bounced off the outer retaining wall and directly into the lead-lap cars of Joe Cooksey, Billy Venturini and Vern Slagh who were all racing for position. There were no injuries however all four cars were extensively damaged.

The next race on the ARCA/ReMax circuit is in Madison Illinois, just outside St. Louis, at Gateway International Speedway. It is a double bill with NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. "Andy has never raced at Gateway before but, we were passing through the area on our way back from a race a couple of years ago and stopped to take a look at the track. It is going to be a fast, tough race with the design of the Speedway. The turn at one end is tighter than the turn at the other making it a challenge to set up the car. It's a flat track which is going to require lots of brakes and lots of gears to keep the car under control."

Andy drops to 3rd in the ARCA/ReMax points behind Frank Kimmell and Tim Steele but five points ahead of Jason Jarrett. "That's what's so frustrating about being taken out by someone else's bad driving. I could be 50 points ahead of Jarrett."

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Blaise Alexander , Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Jason Jarrett , Tim Steele , Billy Venturini , Todd Bowsher , Vern Slagh