Defending Champion Holds Them Off For Number Eight
soldiered home to respectable sixth place finish in the SERVPRO Chevrolet from the 21st starting position earning the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger honors as a result. Veteran Joe Cooksey, making his 100th career series start, finished eighth in front of Mark Gibson who rebounded from an earlier crash to finish ninth in the Williams Bros Lumber Chevrolet. Gibson’s crew received the Gladiator GarageWorks Gladiator of the Race award for their hard work and persistence. TJ Bell, in his first Salem appearance, ran as high as second before getting caught on pit road behind Mike Buckley whose machine stalled directly in his path just as the green flag came out. Bell fell off the lead lap as a result and still managed a 10th place finish.
Outside polesitter David Ragan, in the Sadler Racing Ford, was impressive for much of the way running in third before his engine finally gave up less than 40 laps from the finish. AJ Fike was also a major player racing among the top-five contenders much of the way before an unscheduled, late-race pit stop took him from contention.
In addition to Kimmel’s winnings, he received the Bennigan’s Halfway Lap Leader award while Todd Bowsher, who was racing in the top five early on, received the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award when his motor expired well shy of the finish.
The next event for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be the Channel 5-205 from Kentucky Speedway LIVE on SPEED Channel Saturday night, May 8 at 8 pm eastern.
Kimmel, who a day earlier earned his 34th career Pork Pole award, took off like a rocket at the onset and led through the halfway point before finally making his first pit stop. Jarrett, who had pitted out of sequence earlier, charged back through the pack and led the way after Kimmel pitted. But Kimmel, on fresher tires, soon steered his way back to challenge regaining the lead from Jarrett on lap 127. Both Kimmel and Jarrett, albeit at different times, pitted once more before they made their final moves toward the finish.
Ron Cox, with a chewed up racecar at both ends,
After going winless at his home track in 2003, Frank Kimmel, the undisputed king of Salem Speedway, reclaimed his throne Sunday afternoon at the historic, southern-Indiana oval with a convincing victory in the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200.
Salem Speedway is the closest thing Kimmer (#46) has to a home track on the schedule.
“We were catching him (Kimmel), but we needed more laps,” said Jarrett. “Our tires were a little fresher; we just needed more time. Second place is strong, but we’re sure hungry for a win. We’ll take this, keep are heads high, and go down the road.”
It was Jarrett’s third runner-up finish to Kimmel at Salem in seven starts there.
Kimmel, who pitted twice for fuel and tires during the 200-lap slug-fest, weaved his Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford in and out of traffic as necessary en route to his 51st career series victory and eighth overall at Salem.
“The car was perfect all day,” said Kimmel, who lives in nearby Jeffersonville, Indiana. “We could put it anywhere we needed to, and that’s what you need at Salem Speedway. You’re in traffic all the time, so the car has to be as good as it can be. The guys gave us great pit stops; it was just a dream to drive. The wins here at home just get sweeter all the time.”
Kimmel, for the most part, dominated the day with 153 laps-led trading the lead with only Jason Jarrett.
Jarrett, who led 47 laps, finished second a couple of car lengths back after mounting a spirited late-race charge in the Gladiator GarageWorks-Bennigan’s Chevrolet.
Thirteen cautions for a wide variety of wrecks made for plenty of tense moments throughout the race including one during a restart with just two laps remaining. With Kimmel leading followed by Andy Belmont, Billy Venturini and Jarrett, Venturini made contact with Belmont off turn four just as the green flag waved. Belmont spun and Venturini checked up while Jarrett charged around both. In less than two laps, Jarrett all but erased Kimmel’s ten-length advantage but could not get close enough to make a move on the eventual winner. By the time Belmont finally re-fired his Ford, he had gone a lap down and fell to seventh in the final running order.
Venturini, in the Action Box-Hawk Saw Blades Chevrolet, finished third with 18-year-old rookie Brandon Knupp, in the Chasers Freedom From Hangovers Ford, trailing in fourth, the last car on the lead lap. In doing so, Knupp, a graduate of the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series, posted his first top-five finish in only his second series attempt. Brent Sherman, in the Serta Mattress-Hickory Farms Ford, finished fifth, one lap down.
Kimmel's #46 gets sideways in lapped traffic near the end of the race.
Frank Kimmel won his eighth career event at Salem Speedway (IN) on Sunday afternoon. (ARCA Photos)