Salem, IN (September 10, 2003) -- Rewind to April 2003. The setting is the half-mile, high banks of Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana. The ARCA RE/MAX Series readies for another intense, 200-lap battle, but everyone present fully expects Frank ...
Salem, IN (September 10, 2003) -- Rewind to April 2003. The setting is the half-mile, high banks of Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana. The ARCA RE/MAX Series readies for another intense, 200-lap battle, but everyone present fully expects Frank Kimmel, series champion for what seems like an eternity, to again come out on top. Kimmel has won five in a row at Salem, so it is almost a given he will once again be victorious at day's end.
At the time, only 17 years old, Shelby Howard was viewed as a promising, young talent but had yet to win on the ARCA circuit. He had been close, but still needed that breakthrough performance to propel him into victory lane.
What happened next made its way into the record books.
In only his thirtieth career ARCA start, Howard retook the lead with 20 laps to go and held off the champion Kimmel to become the youngest race winner ever in ARCA history.
Jump back to September 2003. Reclaiming the role of underdog won't be so easy this time around, but Howard, who five weeks after Salem followed up with another win at Kansas, says Kimmel is still the man to beat in Saturday's 200-lap, Salem fall classic.
"The field is strong, but Frank is definitely the favorite," said Howard. "This is Frank's home track and he knows better than anyone what it takes to win here. We have to have a good qualifying run, get in and out of the pits quick, and hang in there until it's time to go. We should have a fast race car, so we've got a shot at it."
Howard has excelled at short tracks this season. In five starts, he has a win, four top fives, and five top tens. The #64 team will be pushing hard to give him another leading performance come Saturday.
After a rough start to September, Howard hopes his good fortune at short tracks continues. A cut tire at Chicago and overheating at DuQuoin have forced him out of the race early the past two starts.
"Our Dodge has been good all year, but we've had some bad luck the past two weeks," Howard said about the recent string of events. "I'm confident we can put the Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge back up front this weekend."
The Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic 200 at Salem Speedway gets underway at 8 pm ET this Saturday night. It will be carried live on SPEED Channel and will re-air at 1 am early Sunday morning.