Concord, North Carolina (September 12, 2016) – Christopher Bell dominated the second half of Saturday night’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic at Salem Speedway, handing Venturini Motorsports’ its 43rd team win, second consecutive season victory and third win in the last four races.
Bell, piloting his No.15 JBL Toyota Camry, led 88-laps enroute to his second career ARCA series victory. Bell’s win, the second on Salem’s high-bank oval, marks the first time an ARCA driver has swept both Salem races in the same season since Shelby Howard in 2003.
“Wow! Incredible night for our Venturini – JBL Toyota team,” said Bell. “My crew chief Jeff McClure gets the credit for this one. He took a big swing on pit strategy and it paid off. We took four General Tires on our first pit stop when everyone else took two. The strategy worked out and we were able to get out front and runaway.”
“It was a gutsy call. At the time I wasn’t sure how it would play out – but these guys did their homework and knew from past history there was a good chance the race would stay caution free. It was the right decision and we got the win.”
Inking his name in ARCA’s record book, Bell’s win came in the 100th ARCA appearance at the legendary southern Indiana short track.
“This is the 100th ARCA race at Salem. This is really special. I’m so thankful to Venturini Motorsports, JBL and Toyota for giving me this opportunity,” added Bell.
Tom Hessert Continues Surge with Runner-Up Finish
Tom Hessert, coming off his sixth career victory a week ago at DuQuoin, continued his late season surge finishing second behind the wheel of his throwback themed No.25 TORK-NORTOWN AUTOMOTIVE Toyota.
“Our Toyota was really good tonight,” said Hessert. “We were one of the best cars on two tires all night long. I thought we’d had a chance at Bell with our pit strategy but he was the best car all night. He was able to cut the middle off turn two better than anyone. Everything happens off two here. I’m just extremely proud of my guys. We’ve been really strong over the last half-dozen races…everyone on this Venturini Motorsports team did a great job tonight.”
Hessert, extending his second place advantage in ARCA’s national championship point standing, turns his attention to the upcoming stretch run.
“We’re hitting our stride at the right time,” added Hessert. “We’re getting stronger each and every week. I’m looking forward to Chicago, Kentucky and Kansas. I think we’ll have a great shot on intermediate tracks.”
Zane Smith Grabs Top-10 Finish in ARCA Series Debut
Seventeen-year old, Zane Smith finished ninth in his ARCA Racing Series debut with Venturini Motorsports at Salem Speedway. Smith, a native of Huntington Beach, California, turned in a strong performance piloting his No.66 Icon Vehicle Dynamics Toyota.
“It wasn’t exactly the finish we were hoping for, but an overall a solid night,” said Smith. “We had a great practice and started third in the race but just fought a real loose race car most of the night. I learned a lot and feel I’m a lot more prepared going into my next start at Kentucky.”
Considered by many as one of the top driver prospects in the country, Smith will make his first start on a mile and a half track at Kentucky Speedway on Friday, September 23.
“Kentucky is going to be a lot of fun. I’ve never been on an intermediate track so I’m looking forward to the new experience and hopefully competing for my first win,” added Smith.
Gaining national recognition in 2015 after winning the overall Super Late Model championship at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL), Smith has been threat in every race since. During his breakout 2015 season, the talented teen recorded three PASS South Wins and a CARS Super Late Model Tour win. Capping off a successful 2015 season, Smith finished second at the prestigious Snowball Derby – runner up to this year’s current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leading Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Chase Elliot.
Dalton Sargeant Settles for 12th Place Finish at Salem Speedway
Dalton Sargeant’s top-10 streak came to an end in Saturday night’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic at Salem Speedway. Sargeant, in the hunt for ARCA’s Rookie of the Year award, ran in the top-5 most of the night but got caught up in a set of circumstances outside his control.
After nearly 100-laps of green flag racing and a diminishing handling car, Sargeant riding in the fifth position and looking for an advantage, was first to drive his Camry down pit road on lap-155 to receive new rubber to revive his car. Immediately after pitting and returning to competition, the yellow fell from the flag stand – before anyone else committed.
The untimely caution proved costly as Sargeant dropped outside the top-10 and was unable to recover so late in the race.
“It was an unfortunate set of circumstances, we had a really strong Toyota Racing Development – Windows 10 Camry tonight but made the decision to be the first to come in for tires during that long green flag run. Unfortunately the strategy didn’t work out as the caution came out soon after we exited and we found ourselves three-laps down. If the caution doesn’t come out there, who knows, we might be talking about winning the race instead,” said Sargeant.
Despite the disappointing outcome, Sargeant is focused on moving forward and ending the season strong.
“We’ve had a great season and run up front every week. I have no doubt this trend will continue. Billy (Venturini) and everyone on this team works hard and provides me with great race cars each and every week. I’m looking forward to our schedule, with three intermediate tracks coming up I’m really liking our chances and hope to find victory lane once again.”
Sargeant, in 12-ARCA series starts, has notched one win, eight top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes.
The next race for the ARCA Racing Series is the SCOTT® 150 at Chicagoland Speedway Thursday night, September 15. The SCOTT® 150 is live on FS1 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The race will follow a busy day of on-track activities beginning with ARCA practice from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. local Central time. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is scheduled at 4:10 p.m. ARCAracing.com will provide live timing and scoring and live chat for all on-track activities.
ABOUT VENTURINI MOTORSPORTS:
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30-years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. Multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports. Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Erik Jones, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman, Brian Scott, Ryan Blaney, Brennan Poole, Daniel Suarez, Brandon Jones and John Wes Townley. Over the years the Venturini name has become synonymous with modern-day racing in America. In 2012, the Venturini family was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (www.NIASHF.org) and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.