TOLEDO, Ohio — The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will soon be headed back to familiar territory in beautiful southern Indiana. The 103rd appearance of the 66-year-old tour is coming to Salem Speedway April 22 for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200.
Among the teams on the way include Venturini Motorsports, coming with three drivers — Middletown, N.Y.’s Christian Eckes in the No. 15 Toyota, Eagle River, Wis.’s Natalie Decker in the No. 25 Toyota and newcomer Chandler Smith in the No. 20 Toyota.
With the pause in between the season-opener at Daytona in February and Nashville April 7, ARCA teams have had some much-needed time to get ready for the busy season ahead. Venturini Motorsports shop manager and crew chief Kevin Reed says he’s in good shape well beyond Salem.
“I’ve already got my Charlotte car wrapped,” said Reed. “So we’re pretty good through May. All our speedway cars are back…we’re in good shape.”
Reed opened the season with a big win at Daytona with Michael Self driving. Reed will be crew chiefing Eckes at Salem.
“We intend to run the same cars we run at Nashville, at Salem…either way, we’re prepared. We’re testing at Salem week after Nashville…on the 13th.”
All four Venturini cars finished inside the top-10 at Daytona, including the car driven by Natalie Decker, who finished a career-best 5th after winning the General Tire Pole. Decker, after announcing a full ARCA season, will be making her first Salem appearance.
“Natalie’s done a real good job…we’re all impressed,” Reed said. “Once she gets through Nashville, and with the test (at Salem) I think she’ll adapt very well. We’re excited for Salem…we’re always excited for Salem.”
MDM Motorsports will also be at Salem in full force with entries expected from Alpine, Calif.’s Sheldon Creed, Huntington Beach, Calif.’s Zane Smith and Meridian, Miss.’s Chase Purdy. Ken Schrader Racing is also expected to enter with newcomer Brandon Grosso (Belle Mead, N.J.), also running the full season.
Joe Gibbs Racing is also expected to enter with 2017 SCOTT Rookie of the Year Riley Herbst (Las Vegas, Nev.). Herbst earned his career-first win at Pocono last year.
Other notable entries expected include Thomas Praytor (Mobile, Ala.), Bret Holmes (Munford, Ala.), Gus Dean (Bluffton, S.C.), Travis Braden (Wheeling, W.V.), Brad Smith (Shelby Township, Mich.) and several more.
Hometown favorite Will Kimmel is also expected to enter in his father Bill Kimmel’s iconic No. 69 Ford.
Past ARCA Racing Series winners at Salem include NASCAR Cup champions Bobby Allison and Benny Parsons, 1952 Indianapolis 500 winner Troy Ruttman, six-time ARCA champion Iggy Katona, Ken Schrader, 10-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel (9-time Salem winner), and three-time series champions Jack Bowsher and Tim Steele. NASCAR drivers Justin Allgaier, Brian Keselowski, Chris Buescher and Brennan Poole have also visited victory lane in ARCA competition at Salem. Christopher Bell swept both ARCA races at Salem in 2016. 2017 ARCA national champion Austin Theriault is the most recent Salem winner.
The Salem race also marks round 2 for the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge, one of 11 short track events in 2018 that make up ARCA’s Short Track championship.
The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 will spread out over two days, Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22. Practice is Saturday afternoon from 12 noon to 1:30, with General Tire Pole Qualifying following at 4. Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 raceday festivities get underway Sunday morning with an on-track driver autograph session at 11:30, followed by the Great American Stock feature event at 1. Pre-race ceremonies, ARCA driver introductions and the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 follow. The ARCA race is scheduled to get the green flag at 2:15 Sunday afternoon.
For ticket info, visit SalemSpeedway.com
-ARCA Press Release
-Photo credit: ARCA