If past history is any indication it’s anybody’s race when the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards pays a visit to Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery.
And this year will be no exception when the Kentuckaiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 unfolds on Sunday afternoon on the high banked .555-mile paved oval.
“All indications point to Sunday’s race being one of the more competitive and wide open ARCA races at Salem in a number of years,” said track general manager Richard Deaton. “With the ARCA youth movement in full swing we expect several different car-driver combinations to be battling for the victory.”
With an entry list that is stacked full of talented young drivers, Salem rookies and including no former race winners the competition is sure to be intense.
“This marks the first time in over 41 ARCA races at Salem and 20 plus years that no former winners will be in the field on Sunday,” said Deaton. “That should make it very interesting as we’re assured of a first time Salem winner.”
Heading the list of Salem newcomers is 2017 ARCA Daytona 200 winner Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, Maine. Theriault, who is driving one of two entries fielded by Ken Schrader Racing, currently leads the ARCA Racing Series point standings after backing up his Daytona win with a fourth place showing at Nashville.
Theriault, a veteran late model racer, has competed in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
At just 19-years-old Kyle Weatherman, who dominated the early going at Nashville and finished a strong second in the Music City 200, will represent the Salem veterans on Sunday.
The Wentzville, Mo. driver has finished in the top five in his last two Salem races, including a second place finish to Ken Schrader in the 2015 spring ARCA race.
“After what we accomplished at Nashville, everyone at Mason Mitchell Motorsports is excited for Salem,” said Weatherman.
“Salem’s very hard to get around, especially for 200 laps. Just to keep the tires on it and keep it off the wall for 200 laps is very challenging…you run so close (to the wall) up in three and four. But
we’re all excited to go back and make it happen. I know I’m ready to get back to Salem.”
The ARCA young guns can expect plenty of competition on Sunday from a couple of other Salem veterans - Will Kimmel of Sellersburg, Ind., and Mason Mingus of Brentwood, Tenn. Both Kimmel and Mingus have visited victory lane at Salem in the past.
Kimmel, nephew of 10-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel, is a former Salem late model track champion with five Salem wins to his credit, while Mingus won a late model race on the high banks during the 2010 season.
Venturini Motorsports and Cunningham Motorsports can always be counted on to be in the hunt for victory anytime the ARCA Racing Series visits the Salem high banks. Those two teams have combined to win six of the past 10 ARCA races at Salem, with three victories each.
Venturini brings three drivers to Salem; Christian Eckes of Middletown, N.Y., Zane Smith of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Raphael Lessard of St. Joseph, Quebec; while Cunningham’s two car team includes Dalton Sargeant of Boca Raton, Fla., and Shane Lee of Newton, N.C.
Other entries include Illinois’ A.J. Fike, Alabama’s Thomas Praytor, Michigan’s Brad Smith, Nevada’s Riley Herbst and Indiana’s Mike Basham, among others.
Drivers from 17 states and Canada have filed early entries for what will be the 101st ARCA race at Salem.
Sharing the high banks with the ARCA Racing Series will be the Lucas Oil Great American Stocks.
The Ford Go Further 50, that serves as a prelude to the ARCA 200 on Sunday, is the season opening race for the popular Salem division.
The Kentuckana Ford Dealers ARCA 200, is the first of three Hoosier Lottery Days scheduled for the track in 2017. Several luck fans, age 18 and older, will receive Hoosier Lottery prize packs, compliments of the Hoosier Lottery. Race fans are also invited to visit the Hoosier Lottery trailer for a chance at winning additional prizes.
The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 will spread out over two days, Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30. Practice is Saturday afternoon starting at 11:30 a.m. with qualifications for the Lucas Oil Great American Stocks set for 2:45 p.m. to be followed by General Tire qualifications for the ARCA Racing Series. Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 raceday festivities get underway Sunday morning with the First Harrison Bank on-track autograph session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. followed by the Great American Stock feature event at 1:00. Pre-race ceremonies, ARCA driver introductions and the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 follow.
Tickets, both reserved and general admission, are now selling for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 and can be purchased by calling 812-883-6504 or 1-888-246-7223. Tickets are also available on-line (24/7) at www.salemspeedway.com.