Christopher Bell Heads Venturini 1-2 in Salem Sweepby Kyle Pokrefky September 11, 2016 0 comments
SALEM, Ind. — Christopher Bell’s second visit to the historic Salem Speedway resulted in his second career ARCA Racing Series victory on Saturday night as Bell swept the track by winning the Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic.
The driver of the No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota led a Venturini Motorsports sweep of the top-two positions in the finishing order over veteran Tom Hessert.
Bell, a regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, utilized a unique pit strategy to come home with his second Salem win of the season, electing to pit for four tires on his first of two pit stops of the night rather than two.
As he stated during a post-race interview, even he was a bit skeptical of his crew chief Jeff McClure’s call a quarter of the way into the 200-lap race.
“I was surprised and I wasn’t quite agreeing with it,” Bell said. “I was really scared because obviously if you take four then you kind of shoot yourself in the foot if you get more yellows later. But, it worked out and these guys did their homework because they told me the fall race typically goes green for awhile.
“They did their homework and they made their best decision and it ended up being the right decision.”
Bell’s win on Saturday night was quite the significant one as the Norman, Okla. native came home the victor in the 100th ARCA race to be held on the high-banked half-mile short track.
“It’s just really cool,” Bell stated. “It’s cool to be a part of Salem and ARCA history. I’m really thankful to be able to do that as a part of Venturini Motorsports.”
Given that the running of this year’s Fall Classic coincided with being the 100th ARCA race at Salem, several teams opted to run throwback schemes of their own similar to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’s now annual Southern 500 throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway.
Hessert, piloting a livery that Venturini team owner Bill Venturini won the ARCA title with in 1987, secured his second consecutive top-two finish and his sixth straight top-10 with his run on Saturday.
“Obviously, a great day for us,” Hessert told The Fourth Turn. “I felt there at the end when we had four I thought we had a shot at him, but Christopher, he had the best car all day.
“I feel like on an open track we could have still tried to run with him, but once we got to traffic he could just roll the outside so much better than I could. Even if I got to him, it would have been hard to pass him.
“But, heck, all-in-all a good night. I’m proud of everyone at Venturini Motorsports.”
19-year-old Bret Holmes rounded out the podium as Josh Williams and John Wes Townley rounded out the top-five. Chase Briscoe, Matt Kurzejewski, Mason Mingus, Zane Smith and A.J. Fike completed the top-10 of the finishing order.
With his sixth-place finish, Briscoe, the season points leader, officially wrapped up ARCA’s short track championship, the Short Track Challenge.
Briscoe’s hold in the points standings exiting Salem unofficially stands at 495 points entering the third-to-last race of the season – the SCOTT 150 at Chicagoland Speedway on Thursday.
Saturday’s race featured four cautions with Wayne Peterson Racing’s Con Nicolopoulos spinning on the second lap of the race for the first caution.
Sellersburg, Ind’s Will Kimmel pancaked the wall in Turn 4 and subsequently brought out the second caution on Lap 50 while a solo spin by Brad Smith on Lap 75 was the cause for the third caution of the night.
10-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel brought out the final caution of the night on Lap 158 for a meeting with the wall in Turn 2.
Thursday’s SCOTT 150 is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m CT start time and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1.
Finishing Order of the Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic
- 15 – Christopher Bell
- 25 – Tom Hessert
- 23 – Bret Holmes
- 6 – Josh Williams
- 05 – John Wes Townley (-1)
- 77 – Chase Briscoe (-1)
- 52 – Matt Kurzejewski (-1)
- 98 – Mason Mingus (-1)
- 66 – Zane Smith (-1)
- 27 – A.J. Fike (-2)
- 2 – Sarah Cornett-Ching (-3)
- 55 – Dalton Sargeant (-3)
- 22 – Frank Kimmel (-7)
- 9 – Thomas Praytor (-8)
- 10 – Ed Pompa (-15)
- 34 – Mike Basham (-16)
- 48 – Brad Smith (-83)
- 69 – Will Kimmel (-103)
- 31 – Richard Hauck (-133)
- 64 – Mike Senica (-149)
- 06 – Con Nicolopoulos (-158)
- 14 – Michael Whipple (-173)
- 0 – Dale Shearer (-192)
- 11 – Richard Doheny (-196)
- 00 – Bradley Frye (-196)
- 30 – Chris Bailey Jr. (-199)
Photo Credit: Kyle Pokrefky/The Fourth Turn