Salem Speedway is definitely open for business, as is Ken Schrader Racing; and both are planning to unite for the upcoming Sunday afternoon April 5th Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 presented by Federated Car Care.
In the meantime, several ARCA RE/MAX Series teams are testing on the historic, half-mile, high-banked oval position in the same southern Indiana soil since 1947.
Soddy Daisy, Tennessee veteran Ron Cox, in Wayne Hixson's familiar 23 car, had the distinction of being first on the track at Salem in 2009 Tuesday, March 17th. Joining Cox, who finished 17th in the 2008 spring ARCA race at Salem, was his 17-year-old cousin and rookie Jody Hixson, who hopes to make his career-first series start Sunday, April 5th at Salem. Hixson is the nephew of team owner Wayne Hixson.
Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR), with its fleet of short-track Toyotas, got on track last Thursday afternoon with three rookies - Craig Goess, Steve Arpin and Tim George, Jr.
"Everything went fine," said Patrick Donahue, crew chief for ESR rookie Goess. "We know what everyone's got (in reference to the 3 team cars). They'll be a couple things to cut up on the car, but no big deal.
"Our times today were consistent. Our cars are working very well. The time and speed wasn't there like it was - I don't know what's changed - but we know our cars are good."
Nine-time Salem winner and nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel, the most recent winner at Salem (September '08), tested the car he calls "The Don" Friday (March 20). Kimmel posted back-to-back wins in "The Don" in 2008 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds; and then followed up with victory at Salem, breaking a four-year Salem winless streak. The Salem win came on his father's 80th birthday.
"We're not going to try anything new or radical set-up wise," said Kimmel. "We just want to make sure there are no issues with "The Don". No leaks. Make sure the brakes are working right. Just generally shake down the car so we're not spending time with those types of issues on race weekend."
Ken Schrader has not tested; however he was one of the first to file an entry for the race.
Schrader has 15 career ARCA RE/MAX Series victories over the years, just one of which came at Salem 10 years ago in the fall of 1999. Now flash ahead 10 years.
"Anyone who thinks they can just drop in on an ARCA race and clean up, had better re-think that one," said Schrader. "It's flat tough to win over there, especially at Salem.
"There was a time when you could pick your way through an ARCA field, but not anymore. It's hard enough to stay on the lead lap at Salem, let alone win there. But we'll give it our best. We love the track, and we love the series. The competition is more intense than some may think."
Other teams scheduled to test at Salem include Win-Tron Racing (driver Matt Merrell), Sheltra Motorsports (driver Patrick Sheltra), Cunningham Motorsports (driver Ken Weaver) and Capital City Motorsports (driver Kyle Wilson).
Outside of some occasional downtime when the track changed ownership, the series has been a staple at Salem since 1955. In fact, no track has appeared more on the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule over the years than Salem. This year's Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 by Federated Car Care represents the 85th appearance of the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Salem.
Past RE/MAX Series winners at Salem include NASCAR Cup champion Bobby Allison, six-time ARCA national champ Iggy Katona, three-time series champs Jack Bowsher and Tim Steele, '52 Indy 500 winner Troy Ruttman and USAC stock car veteran/champion Don White. 27 RE/MAX Series races have been won from the pole at Salem.
Tickets, both reserved and general admission, are currently selling for the April 5th Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 presented by Federated Car Care. For tickets or more information call 812-883-6504 or toll free 1-888-246-7223.