ARCA At Salem Is Pure Short Track Racing & The Opposite Of NASCAR

Salem Speedway in south central Indiana is a high banked half mile oval that epitomizes what short track racing in America is all about. ARCA ran the Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic 200 on the high banks Saturday night while NASCAR ran on the “short track” in Richmond. One of these two races was the definition of short track racing and it wasn’t the one that takes $20M a year to run a car.

ARCA put on a classic show Saturday night at Salem. Austin Theriault in the #52 dominated the race early while pole sitter Zane Smith in the #28 started at the rear of the field. As the 200 laps ticked by Smith started to gain time on the leaders. Theriault would spend the first half of the race battling Christina Eckes in the #15 before his engine expired relegating him to a 19th place finish.

As Theriault continued to lead the battle for second between a charging Zane Smith, a resilient Dalton Sargeant and Tom Hessert heated up. Hessert would end up getting in the wall as Sargeant realized he needed to make his move before it was too late. Ultimately it was too late.

Zane Smith had taken the lead from Theriault but used his tires up in the process. That allowed the #52 to slip underneath him and take his 5th victory of the year and maintain his lead in the point. The former Brad Keselowski driver has really shined in the Ken Schrader #52 this season.

Salem Is What Every Track Should Be

A short track that knows its place in the racing landscape. Salem doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It’s merely a short track in Indiana that houses some great racing for great fans. If you’re looking for opulent amenities and posh seats this isn’t the place for you. If you’re looking for a place the is all about the on track activity, come to Salem sometime.

A simple grandstand with reserved and general admission seating. A concession stand the way concession stands should be set up. Prices that make you laugh because you’re used to spending an exorbitant amount of money at events. We’re talking about $2 for a hot dog, $3.25 for a cheeseburger. Reasonable pricing and friendly cashiers, what a crazy idea.

Salem opened in 1947 and it looks like it hasn’t been repaved since that time either. That’s not a complaint, that’s a testament¬†to the track for allowing a weathered track to help produce good racing. NASCAR tracks are so worried about rain delays and seepage they repave far too often.

After the race, Salem opens up the wall and allows fans on the track. What a noble idea, the fans can go on the track, look at the cars and talk to the drivers. No drivers ran to their carts to get out of the track, no drivers turned anyone away. We stood around and talked to Dalton Sargeant for a good 5 minutes just talking about racing. It was great and we all left as Sargeant fans. Imagine if more NASCAR drivers did that. Letting fans out on track also made victory lane a lot more fun, and made the crowd bigger.

If you wanted to walk to turn 4 and pay your respects to Rich Vogler you could do that too. Letting fans on the track after the race to walk around, see how steep the banking is and meet drivers is something NASCAR should do. Salem made us fans last night and we’ll definitely be back.

Turn 4 at Salem. Against the wall is the fastest line in 3 and 4

 

Front stretch wall at Salem is made of cinder blocks. Super old school and something you won’t see at any NASCAR track.

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