Salem: Race notes

Youngster Howard holds off veteran Kimmel at Salem. With a standing-room-only crowd, seventeen-year-old Shelby Howard did what no driver has done for nearly three years -- deprive hometown favorite Frank Kimmel a victory at Salem ...

Youngster Howard holds off veteran Kimmel at Salem.

With a standing-room-only crowd, seventeen-year-old Shelby Howard did what no driver has done for nearly three years -- deprive hometown favorite Frank Kimmel a victory at Salem Speedway.

Howard, with Kimmel looming large in the mirror, held off the master of the renowned, southern-Indiana oval in the dramatic, closing laps of the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 Sunday afternoon scoring his career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series triumph.

"I'm a little shocked," said Howard. "I knew we were good, but I also knew we had Frank (Kimmel) on my bumper for the last 20 laps or so -- seemed like forever to me. Just want to thank all the guys who work so hard on our program; it's been a long time coming. Thanks to Beck Dodge and Mack Trucks for all the help too."

Kimmel, who was aiming for his sixth-consecutive win at Salem, had to settle for second a half-second behind the winner after leading 79 laps of the 200 lap race. Kimmel, who won his sixth consecutive Old Milwaukee Pole at Salem, also had to race from the tail-end of the field as a result of changing engines in his Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford the day before.

"All in all it was a good day," said Kimmel. "We just got too tight on that last stop. I'd like to congratulate Shelby on a great run; they earned it. But we finished second, and that's a pretty good day at the races."

Billy Venturini, after leading 19 laps, passed Paul Menard with less than ten laps remaining to finish third in the Hawk Saw Blades-Mahle Pistons Pontiac. Menard, making his career-first RE/MAX Series start driving for Andy Petree, finished fourth in the Menard's-Turtle Wax Chevrolet. Andy Belmont finished fifth in the Verizon Ford, the first car one lap down.

With less than 40 laps remaining in the 200-lap race, Kimmel, with a sizeable lead, looked like he was on his way to another victory until he lost the top spot in the pits during one of several cautions. Menard, who had led 26 laps early on, won the race off pit road ahead of Howard and Kimmel. Back under green, Venturini, who didn't pit, led up until the next caution period giving the third-generation driver the opportunity to come down pit road for badly-needed tires. That put Howard into the lead over Kimmel, Menard and Venturini for the restart. With 15 laps remaining, the green waved again for the top-four contenders who were now the only cars on the lead lap. Kimmel pressured Howard while Venturini worked on Menard. But while Venturini was able to make the pass on Menard for third, Howard began to pull away from Kimmel. Howard looked to be firmly in control until the final caution flag came out for a two-car tangle in turn four. That set the stage for a dramatic green-white-checker finish in which Kimmel would get one final shot at Howard. However, Howard denied the late-race challenge from Kimmel and cruised under the checkered flag two lengths ahead of Kimmel.

Jason Jarrett finished sixth in the Biomet-Damon RV Pontiac ahead of Joe Cooksey who finished seventh in the Fuelvend Chevrolet. Norm Benning finished eighth in the B&B Pest Control Chevrolet in front of Christi Passmore who tied her career-best finish in ninth in the Gap Roofing-Royal Trading Ford. Passmore, who started 23rd, also picked up the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions and the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie honors. Second-generation racer Michael Simko completed the top-ten finishers in the Mound Steel & Supplies Chevrolet.

Deborah Renshaw and Darryl Sage raced in the top-five for much of the afternoon before getting caught up in one of ten cautions throughout the race that left many machines beat and battered. One of those bruised machines was Ron Cox's which soldiered home to a fifteenth place finish after several stops on pit road to piece his Wayne Hixson-owned Chevrolet back together. As a result, Cox's crew earned the Gladiator of the Race award for outstanding achievement. Renshaw, as a consolation, was awarded the Landrum Springs Hard Luck honors.

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Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Jason Jarrett , Shelby Howard , Billy Venturini , Ron Cox , Andy Petree , Norm Benning , Paul Menard , Deborah Renshaw