Bill Baird Takes Two in a Row By Don Radebaugh Salem, IN - When opportunity knocks you've got to be there to grab it. Bill Baird was there Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway when race leader Frank Kimmel, with less than two laps ...
Bill Baird Takes Two in a Row By Don Radebaugh
Salem, IN - When opportunity knocks you've got to be there to grab it. Bill Baird was there Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway when race leader Frank Kimmel, with less than two laps remaining, hit the wall in turn one allowing Baird the chance to take control of the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 and go on to claim his second consecutive ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series victory of his career. Baird, fresh from his win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March and an eighth place run at Daytona, also wrestled the point lead away from Bobby Gerhart who limped to the checkers in 21st position with a bent race car caused from an earlier race caution.
Kimmel, after leading 145 of the 200 laps, was all but ready to turn left into victory lane when his Chevrolet Monte Carlo suddenly veered to the right and slammed the first corner concrete. Baird, along with Bob Strait and Dill Whittymore in tow, eased his Saturn Machine-Spee Dee Pop Chevrolet safely to the inside of Kimmel while the former race leader struggled to keep control. At the final stripe, Baird had two car lengths on runnerup finisher Strait in the Zinsser Paint Products Ford who edged Whittymore's Mt. Olive Pickle Chevrolet at the line by a half car length. Kimmel nursed his badly-bruised Rite-Way Industries Chevrolet home fourth ahead of Joe Cooksey's Maurtco Powder Coating Chevrolet to complete the top five.
"I just can't believe my luck lately," said Baird in victory lane. "We've finally turned the corner. I couldn't tell if Frank had a tire go down or if he just drove it in too hard. All I know is that I just won the biggest short track race of my career here at my home track and it feels great. After all the bad luck we had last year, I could sure get use to this. I'm really happy for the crew. They work so dang hard at this and now it's finally paying off."
Baird started the day out with a Talladega Pole Award and led the first 43 laps before giving it up to Mike Buckley after most of the frontrunners came down pit road for service under caution. Buckley led the next 10 circuits before Kimmel took command up through lap 101. Ten caution periods, all for minor incidents, mixed the order continually shuffling Joe Cooksey to the point for three rounds as well as 19-time ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series winner Bob Schacht who led 4 laps before Kimmel again raced his way to the top-spot. Although Kimmel led the way most of the day, seldom could the defending ARCA champion shake the constant challenges of Baird, Strait, Whittymore and Schacht who kept a close eye on the leader all afternoon.
Schacht, after late-race contact with the wall, salvaged a respectable sixth place finish in front of Andy Belmont, Andy Hillenburg, Mike Lorz and David Boggs to round out the top ten. It was Hillenburg's first Salem start since the Fall of the 1995 when the Indiana native wrapped up the '95 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series championship.
Baird received an additional $3,500 for winning the race from the pole compliments of AC Delco Wire & Cable while Lorz was awarded the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger honors as well as the Prestone Advanced Formula Award for advancing the most positions. Ron Cox was the STP-Prestone Highest Finishing Rookie for his 14th place finish. Kimmel was the Auto Value Parts Stores Halfway Leader and the Landrum Spring Hard Luck Award winner. Next action for the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series will be at Anderson Speedway on May 9th for the Anderson ARCA 300.
Current Point Leaders: Bill Baird 685, Bobby Gerhart 590, Frank Kimmel 550, Bob Strait 550, Joe Cooksey 475, Dill Whittymore 465, Cavin Councilor 450, Mark Gibson 445, Bob Schacht 430, Mike Ciochetti 410.