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Salem Homecoming Always A Thrill For Kimmel
Posted by: newsla on Sep 12, 2013 - 04:53 PM
Salem Homecoming Always A Thrill For Kimmel

The Salem Speedway is one of the most unique venues on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule, but it's home turf for nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel, ARCA's current point leader, and with three races left in the 21-race season, Kimmel will take any advantage he can muster.


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Salem, the site of Saturday night's Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Fall Classic presented by Federated Car Care, doesn't owe Kimmel and his No. 44 Ansell / Menards Toyota team a thing -- even though Kimmel was handily leading the Salem spring race with less than 10 laps to go when a lapped car and some aggressive driving by his competitors relegated Kimmel to a badly-rumpled sixth-place finish.

Kimmel says the circumstances of last spring aren't in the front of his mind.

"We haven't won in six or seven races right now, so that's why I want to win another one," Kimmel said, laughing. "The fact that it's Salem makes it a bonus if we're able to do it -- but these kids we're racing every week were a handful there."

Kimmel, who's won an ARCA-record nine times at the legendary southeastern Indiana short track -- including five Salem events in a row between 2000 and 2002 -- would like nothing better than to boost his 270-point advantage in the standings over Tennessee teenager Mason Mingus, but he's ready to see how the day develops.

"The car was fairly decent in the spring and last year we were really good at Salem," Kimmel said. "So we'll probably look back at some notes and see what we can do to pick it back up and get it there, again."

How well the team's run at recent short tracks such as Berlin and Madison gives Kimmel optimism, but only to a point.

"Salem's a different animal -- a completely different racetrack than what we've raced here, lately," Kimmel said. "But our car has been good all year and we won at Winchester, which is kind of a sister track to Salem, though Salem's a little bit rougher, of course.

"But it's just like we always do. I expect to be good and I think the car will run good and I can't wait to get back there and try it."

Kimmel's optimism is particularly bolstered by the fact his team has engineered his current career-best streak of 28 consecutive top-10 finishes stretching over the last two seasons. That streak includes two top 10s at Salem.

The prospect of winning his 80th career race also has Kimmel enthused, even though he's already missed the chance to claim sole possession of ARCA's career record for victories in the last eight races since he won his 79th race in June at Winchester.

Kimmel is locked in a tie for that honor with ARCA legend Iggy Katona, and would cherish nothing more than the chance to claim the honor in front of his home fans and family.

Kimmel has another goal on his radar at Salem, clinching the prestigious ARCA Bill France Four Crown title, a race-within-the-series competition that rewards the most successful competitor in a stretch of ARCA's most diverse races.

Kimmel currently has a 15-point lead in the Four Crown standings over ARCA Rookie of the Year leader Justin Boston, after BFFC races at Michigan (superspeedway), New Jersey (road course) and Springfield (dirt track).

But as he is with the overall ARCA championship, Kimmel's not getting too wrapped-up in anything but concentrating on the race at the Salem short-track.

"The Four Crown title is way too close to get too charged up over it," Kimmel said. "It's still way up in the air, but it's something I'm very aware of. The award speaks to the diversity of the series, and I think that over the years it's really become one of ARCA's most meaningful awards.

"We won't change our strategy going to Salem. We'll do what we always try and do there -- keep our nose clean and hopefully have the fenders on the car so we have something to race with at the end. Salem will bite you in a heartbeat. You don't ever go into Salem thinking you've got anything wrapped up. Salem doesn't quite work that way.

"Justin won the pole at Salem in the spring, and was one of the fastest cars in the race. If we win the thing, I'm sure he won't make it easy on us -- none of those kids ever do -- and there's a bunch of them we have to contend with."

Salem's one-day format has a pair of ARCA Racing Series practices, from 12:30-1:15 p.m. ET and 1:45-2:30 p.m. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell, which will set the race's starting lineup, is scheduled for 4 p.m.

The public's invited to an autograph session featuring Kimmel and the full field of ARCA drivers on the track's frontstretch, from 4:45-5:15 p.m., right before opening ceremonies and a 50-lap race for Salem's Street Stock division.

The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Fall Classic is scheduled to take the green flag at 7:15 p.m. ET.

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