JARRETT WINS THE RACE, KIMMEL THE CHAMP By Don Radebaugh
Despite Early Accident, Kimmel Gets Number Six
the GAP Roofing-Asphalt & Fuel Supply Ford, steered her war-torn Taurus to the finish in ninth. Brent Sherman, another driver who recovered from earlier on-track tangles, regrouped in time to finish 10th in the Serta Mattress-Hickory Farms Ford.
Kimmel, for his outstanding season, earned the Gladiator GarageWorks Gladiator of the Race honors. Joe Cooksey, who also got caught up in an accident early on, received the ARCA Hard Luck award.
Talladega Superspeedway will host the season finale for the ARCA RE/MAX Series on Saturday, October 2 with the Food World 300 LIVE on SPEED Channel at 2 pm eastern.
Series rookie Will Langhorne, in only his second start, stayed out and led the next 22 laps before Kimmel, on fresher tires, regained the lead on lap 107. Kimmel then began pulling away from the pack and appeared to be well on his way to another win before the hometown favorite got caught up in someone else's wreck.
With Kimmel gone from the mix, Jarrett took over as the leader on lap 146. Outside of a challenge from Bell and a late-race charge from South, Jarrett held firm up front long enough to procure the win.
Rookie Ryan Howard, in a team car to Gibson, finished a solid sixth in his first Salem appearance over Bell, who soldiered home seventh despite a badly wounded racecar. AJ Fike, caught up in a three car wreck off turn four coming down for the checkers, finished 8th in the Ray Farms Chevrolet, despite destroying his car. Christi Passmore, in
Jason Jarrett, before a packed house, steered clear of the continual carnage and held off a hard charging teenager to win the wild Eddie Gilstrap Motors 200 Saturday night at Salem Speedway while Frank Kimmel, despite a disappointing night, clinched a record-tying 6th ARCA RE/MAX Series national championship.
unbelievable tonight. We've had some great cars at Salem over the years, but I'm not sure we ever had one this good. It's just really disappointing here in front of the hometown crowd. Congratulations to Jason Jarrett; we're certainly happy for him. And congratulations to our Tri-State Motorsports championship team. They're the best again."
Jarrett, who led the final 66 laps, would not be denied the victory despite a green-white-checker finish that stretched the race 11 laps beyond its scheduled 200.
In the end, Jarrett, in the Bennigan's-Gladiator GarageWorks Chevrolet, finished three lengths ahead of 16-year-old Justin South, who wowed the regulars with an impressive second place finish in his career-first series start.
"I can't tell you how good this feels," said Jarrett in victory lane. "This is just what we needed to rejuvenate this team; it's what I needed to rejuvenate myself. We've finished second so many times here. We were always close but just couldn't get there. I'm so proud of these guys; they gave me a great race car tonight. And I'm so happy for ML Motorsports, Bennigan's and Gladiator GarageWorks who stuck by me through all our struggles."
Jarrett's second series victory in his 91st attempt was aided in part by the absence of Kimmel, who got caught up in a wreck after dominating nearly three-quarters of the event.
"What a shame," said Kimmel, who was credited with the 23rd finishing position. "The Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford was
Kimmel now joins the late Iggy Katona as the only drivers to win six ARCA RE/MAX Series championships, although Kimmel is the only driver in series history to win five consecutive.
South's stout run was cut short by a checkered flag leaving many to wonder what might have been.
"I learned a lot out there tonight," said the Gardendale, Alabama driver. "I think I could have won the race if we could have had one more long run. We weren't very good in the short run, but the car was awesome in the long run."
The night was filled with flying sparks throughout for 13 cautions that slowed the race for 71 laps.
There were no injuries, but there were very few unwrinkled racecars to load up onto the haulers for the ride home.
The final caution of the night was for TJ Bell, whose wounded car finally
broke inside of ten laps to go causing the Sparks, Nevada racer to smack the wall in turns three and four while running third. By the time the track was cleared, series officials had to resort to their ARCA-mandated green-white-checker finish to settle the affair. While South, in Doug Reid's Alabama Brick Chevrolet, appeared as fast as Jarrett, the final two-lap trophy dash just wasn't enough time to mount any significant challenge.
Mark Gibson, in the Williams Bros Lumber Chevrolet, steered his mangled Chevy Monte Carlo to the finish in third in front of Norm Benning, who finished a solid fourth in his own unsponsored Chevrolet, the last car on the lead lap. Benning, who started 24th, also received the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions. Josh Clemons, in the USM Productions Ford, finished fifth, one lap down.
Kimmel, who earned his 37th career Pork Pole award earlier in the day, led the first 84 laps before giving it up in favor of pit road service under caution.
Frank Kimmel was invovled in a big accident, but still locked up his sixth series championship.
Jason Jarrett celebrates his second career ARCA win on Saturday. (ARCA Photos)