SALEM, IN, by Don Radebaugh -- 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,...
SALEM, IN, by Don Radebaugh -- 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.
"It's so great to do it in front of the hometown fans," Kimmel said in victory lane. "The car was perfect; I could put it wherever I needed to, and that's critical here at Salem because you're constantly dealing with traffic. Tim (Steele) drove me real clean and was strong all day but what can you say; the Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Chevy was a tick stronger, and it showed here today. Big thanks to my car owner Larry Clement for the opportunity, my brother Bill who's our crew chief, the entire team; these guys are the best. We love this old house; we feel like we have home field advantage, and we can't wait to come back."
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.
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.
Blaise Alexander steered his Superior Logistics Services Pontiac to the finish in sixth in front of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee driver Ron Cox who finished seventh in Wayne Hixson's Chevrolet. Rick Markle, in the Smartwireless.com-Racedayad.com Chevrolet, finished a respectable eighth ahead of rookie Ryan Vos who won the Hoosier Tire Performance Hard Charger Award in the Vermeer Diggin Dutchman Ford for racing from 24th to ninth in the final running order. Karla Lampe, a mother of six from Carroll, Iowa, recorded her career-best RE/MAX Series finish of tenth in the Carroll Refuse-All Pro Door Company Chevrolet.
Leslie won the Loctite Halfway Leader Award as well as the Landrum Spring Hard Luck Award while Kimmel, who increased his point lead over Steele by 150 markers, collected the Quarter Master Comin' Thru in the Clutch honors.