Barnes wins Firecracker 150 and Durrett dominates the inaugural Ford high bank races

Jerry Curry

Chuck Barnes Jr. backed up his 2020 win by again finishing first in the 32nd Firecracker 150. The race ran under the lights, after sunset and was interrupted by several cautions. A 10 car pileup on a restart at lap 130 eliminated several top contenders including Frank Kimmel, a 10  time ARCA champion. Kimmel was driving the number 32 machine after a five year absense. He was sitting in for his son, who had other commitments and could not make this year’s race. His nephew Wil Kimmel, the fastest qualifier, went out on lap 10 with a bad motor.

Running a very competitive second was Heath Hilton, the 2019 winner, followed by Skeeter Crum, David Bayens, Shawn Smith and Marcus Elliott. During the race, each driver had to make one pit stop regardless of service and also only one tire change was allowed. Don Radebaugh, the voice of the Salem Speedway proclaimed “Happy Birthday America,“ as drivers prepared to race.

The affordable Ford Crown Vics dominated a majority of the program with some outstanding races. The Fords accounted for eight heat races and four features using the quarter mile track and for the first time in history the .555 high bank track. This was a step up the racing ladder for this series. Fords are a true stock car with only safety modifications. The first time race consisted of two heats and the inaugural 15 lap feature on the famed Salem high banks.

Daniel Durrett driving his 05 Gambler Garage special out of Brooks, Kentucky won a suitecase full of first place awards and set track records along the way. Durrett set the Ford track qualifying record (22.393 seconds) on the high banks. He continued by winning the oval feature on the short track. Following him were John Lister, Greg Smith, Jake Wells, Jamie Bierman Harbin and Zack Cecil.

On the high bank, Durrett won the second heat race. Starting in sixth position in the big track 15 lap feature, he patiently moved through the field for the win. In victory lane, Radebaugh ask him how it felt to win, he replied, “It’s awesome, but it’s the car (he has named, ‘princess,’) not me.” Rounding out the top five were Eric Childress, James Mikesell, Garrett Roby, and Jacob Robertson.

On the quarter mile track, Daniel Lister won the 30 lap feature Figure 8 followed by Jake Wells and Jake Robertson. In the Ford powder puff Miranda Basham caught and passed Maranda Jane to win that feature. Third place went to Erika Vaughn, followed by Dawn Douglas and Kaitlea Smith. Basham said, “You are not a Basham unless you have a Salem trophy.”

The closing event was a late fireworks show staged between turns three and four. The next event at the speedway will be on July 24, when the Super Cup series, Great American Stock car series and the Ford Crown Vics return.


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