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SALEM, Ind. – Short-track roots are calling. The grand ole Speedway awaits. And at no other place is the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards more rooted than Salem Speedway where the series has been a staple for more than 50 years.
It started at the historic southern Indiana high banked short-track in 1955, and, for the most part, it’s never stopped. Nor has the race fans hunger for one of the country’s most thrilling and worthwhile short-track classics. ARCA Racing Series event number 91 at Salem is on the way with the upcoming Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 on Sunday.
As always, it’s loaded with stories of local drivers, far away flavor, rookies, veterans and so much more.
From the veteran side, not to mention the local angle, Frank Kimmel charges to the forefront. The nine-time champ hails from nearby Clarksville, Ind., and like his father before him, he learned the ropes at Salem. He’s also the all-time ARCA winner at Salem with nine victories. There was a time over a three-year span that Kimmel won an amazing five consecutive races at Salem. But that was then and this is now. In fact, Kimmel has been winless at Salem for the past three years. Names like Patrick Sheltra, Justin Lofton, Steve Arpin, Dakoda Armstrong, Brennen Poole and Chris Buescher have most recently stood in his way of victory lane. It’s also true that there have been no repeat winners in the last eight ARCA events at Salem, more evidence of the expanding competition level in the ARCA Racing Series.
Of the notable entrants, Poole and Buescher come to the front. Poole, driving for Venturini Motorsports and making his first career ARCA start, pulled off a surprising victory in the 2011 spring ARCA race at Salem. Buescher, who like Poole resides in Texas, will be looking to make it two consecutive wins on the high banks after capturing the ARCA Fall Classic last September at Salem.
Adding to the mix of notable entrants is another local driver, Will Kimmel, the nephew of Frank Kimmel and son of championship crew chief Bill Kimmel Jr. The younger Kimmel, a former Salem Speedway late model champion, led 79 laps and finished a strong second in the 2011 ARCA Fall Classic at Salem. The Sellersburg, Ind., driver started the 2012 season with an impressive third place finish in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona.
Besides Kimmel, Poole and Buescher another former Salem ARCA winner that has filed an entry for Sunday’s race is Brian Keselowski of Rochester Hills, Mich. Keselowski, the brother of current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski, captured the 2007 Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200.
Then there is the onslaught of newcomers, including 16-year-old Chase Elliott. The Dawsonville, Ga., driver, who is the son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, will be attempting to make his second career ARCA start after qualifying second and finishing 10th at Mobile International Speedway in early March.
Other notable entrants include Milka Duno of Caracas, Venezuela; Alex Bowman of Tucson, Ariz.; Tom Hessert of Cherry Hill, N.J.; Clint King of Denton, N.C.; Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif., and Chad Hackenbracht of Cornelious, N.C.
Adding to the local flavor will be veteran Darrell Basham of Henryville, Ind., and Blake Hillard of Ownesboro, Ky.
The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 is spread out over the weekend with ARCA practice and pole qualifying scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Practice and qualifications for the Lucas Oil Great American Stocks will also take place on Saturday. The ARCA 200 is slated to roll off at 2:15 on Sunday afternoon. The Lucas Oil Great American Stocks kicks-off Sunday’s action with the Ford Drive One 50 at 1 p.m. (EDT).
Tickets, both reserved and general admission, are now selling for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 and may be purchased by calling 812-883-6504 or toll free 1-888-246-7223. Tickets may also be purchased on-line at www.salemspeedway.com. Advance general admission tickets for Sunday are priced at $24 for adults and $5 for children (age 7-12). Kids, age 6 and under, are admitted free. Saturday admission is free with Sunday ticket or $6 without. Reserved seat tickets are also available for Sunday’s race.
NASCAR legend Bill Elliott to sign autographs during pre-race festivities
Bill Elliott, who was voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver a record 16 times in his illustrious career, will be signing autographs and talking with fans as part of Sunday’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 at Salem Speedway.
Elliott, a two-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, is scheduled to take part in the First Harrison Bank on-track autograph session before the start of the race.
“This is an excellent opportunity for fans to meet one of the true legends of NASCAR,” said track general manager Richard Deaton. “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville still remains one of the most popular drivers of all-time.”
Rick Van Hoose named grand marshall
WLKY-TV news anchor Rick Van Hoose has been named Grand Marshall of the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 at Salem Speedway reports track management.
Van Hoose, who was born in Salem, has been a fixture on Louisville television for many years. The University of Kentucky graduate, who began his career as a sportscaster, was named the 2000 Media Person of the Year by the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities for his “Rick’s Hometown Heroes” segments.