ARCA expected to bring big crowd, competitive field to Salem Print
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Wednesday, 18 April 2018 07:21

It’s anybody’s race when the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards rolls into Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery.

And this year will be no exception when the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 unfolds on Sunday afternoon, April 22nd.

Sixteen different drivers have won the last 20 ARCA races on the lightning-fast high banks, which has produced some memorable races since Jack Harrison won the inaugural event back in 1955.

“The overall level of competition in the ARCA Racing Series is arguably as strong as it has ever been,” said Salem Speedway general manager Richard Deaton.  “We are legitimately looking at 15 to 20 different drivers that are capable of winning this race.”

With an entry list that is stacked full of talented young drivers and Salem rookies the competition level is sure to be intense.

Heading the list of young chargers is a couple of California drivers and MDM Motorsports teammates, 18-year-old Zane Smith of Huntington Beach and 20-year-old Sheldon Creed of Alpine.

Smith is coming off an impressive victory in the Music City 200 back on April 7th at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and Creed, who is currently second in the ARCA point standings, finished third at Daytona in February and backed that up with a strong second place showing at Nashville.

Smith and Creed face a challenge from a host of other young guns.  They are led by 20-year-old Natalie Decker of Eagle River, Wis., winner of the pole for the 2018 Daytona ARCA 200.  Decker, who went on to finish fifth in the race, is currently third in the ARCA Racing Series point standings.

Other entries include Nevada’s Riley Herbst, West Virginia’s Travis Braden, South Carolina’s Gus Dean, New York’s Christian Eckes, Alabama’s Bret Holmes and Thomas Praytor, Mississippi’s Chase Purdy and Georgia’s Chandler Smith, among others.

Will Kimmel of Sellersburg, Jack Dossey III of Wanamaker, and Mike Basham of Henryville will add Hoosier flavor to the event as all three Indiana drivers have filed race entries.

Also expected for the 103rd ARCA race at Salem is third generation driver Thad Moffitt of Trinity, NC.  Moffitt is the grandson of seven-time NASCAR champion “The King” Richard Petty.

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 first race of the season for the popular Salem division.

Kimmel is planning on doing double-duty on Sunday, racing with both the Great American Stocks and the ARCA Series.


Petty family line

There’s a Petty in the house at Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery; or there certainly will be when Thad Moffitt marches through the gate Thursday (April 12) to test for next weekend’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 coming April 21-22.

Moffitt is the grandson of “The King” Richard Petty, and he’s on track to make his Salem debut. Like most kids growing up in the racing world, he’s been hearing about the place since he can remember.

“It’s one of those tracks you hear about all your life…one of those tracks the people around me have always talked about,” said Moffitt.

“Everybody says that track is like Bristol, but not as much grip, multiple grooves and a lot rougher. But that’s the kind of track I adapt to the best. I’m not really nervous; I’m more anxious. After all the bad luck we’ve had, I’m ready for a break-through race, and I feel like Salem could be that race.”

Moffitt got behind the “8-ball” last Saturday at Nashville, and clawed his way back to a 14th-place finish in the No. 46 Performance Plus Ford for Empire Racing. Despite the issues Moffitt had at Nashville, once things sorted out, the Trinity, N.C. fourth-generation racer was running lap times on pace with the leaders.

“I’m a little bit disappointed to be honest. We had a seal blow out and didn’t get to qualify and had to start in the rear. We went into the race not knowing what we had. We raced up to 12th, then we had a right-rear tire go down…then I got caught speeding on pit road. We were as fast as the leaders in the end; we just didn’t have any track position.”

If it’s at all possible, Moffitt hopes to get a head start on Salem Speedway.

“We’re getting ready to roll out to Salem. We just loaded up for the test.”

Moffitt will also have help from veteran crew chief Jeff McClure at Salem. McClure has built a reputation on helping several up and coming young drivers. When Todd Gilliland became the youngest ARCA winner in history at Toledo Speedway, it was McClure who engineered the victory from the pit box.

“A lot of my crew guys have been telling me about Salem,” Moffitt continued. “Jeff McClure just came on board with us and he’s been giving me a lot of good advice on Salem. He told me that if I’m going to pass anybody, I gotta make sure I get off (turn) two. And if you can’t make the pass off two, then just do it the next lap. Don’t try it in three and four.”

Moffitt has been getting the best of both worlds at Empire, help from not only McClure, but from longtime Empire crew chief Mike “Grumpy” Cheek.

“I’m really fortunate. I’m getting the knowledge of two great crew chiefs. I guess you could say I have co-crew chiefs. They discuss everything together, and I benefit from that.”

Moffitt finished an ARCA career-best 11th at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2017. He also earned the Southeast Limited Late Model Series championship in 2016. His famous grandfather Richard Petty is a 7-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and is the all-time Cup leader with 200 career wins.

The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 is the first of three Hoosier Lottery Days scheduled for the track in 2018.  Several lucky race fans, age 18 and over, 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 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 Go Further 50 at 1 p.m.

The First Harrison Bank on-track autograph session is scheduled to get underway at 11:30 a.m.

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 at www.salemspeedway.com.