Motorsports continues to show their strength in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, as Zane Smith (second), Sheldon Creed (third) and Chase Purdy (fifth) all finished in the top five on the high-banked Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana during Sunday’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200.
Smith, 18, drove a heads-up race in his LaPaz, Icon Vehicle Dynamics, Speed Vegas Toyota, falling back from his thirdplace starting spot to eighth in the early going, to conserve tire wear. He worked his way back inside the top five and remained there the entire second half of the race, challenging eventual winner Christian Eckes for the victory throughout the last 35 laps.
“We were really strong right off the truck,” Zane said after the race. “Mardy (Lindley – crew chief) and the guys did a fantastic job all weekend. I thought our strategy was perfect, we just got a little too tight on that last run. We got another podium finish, so we cannot be mad about that.”
Lindley echoed the sentiments of his driver. “Zane did everything right on his end, saved his stuff, raced smart. We just got him too tight and that’s on me. But we’ll have that fixed for the next short track. I cannot say enough about this team right now. They’re doing a heck of a job.
” Creed came into the weekend focused on winning if he could but making sure he got a podium finish to keep his series championship hopes alive. He started seventh with his United Rentals, A.M. Ortega, RTL Toyota No. 28, and took it easy the first half of the race before spending the entire second half in the top five and eventually finishing third his third consecutive top three finish.
“We were really stout again,” the happy Creed confirmed post-race. “We just keep staying really consistent which is what the week to week goals are. We just need a little bit to beat Zane and the 41 guys. But, we’re close. I want to win so bad! We’re staying in the championship race and that’s what we want to do.
” Creed’s crew chief, Jeff Stankiewicz, was content with his team’s day. “I’m happy with how things went here,” he said. “Sheldon did a good job keeping the tires on it. We didn’t have anything for the 15 or the 41, so we have some work to do there, but we’re close and we had another productive points day.”
Purdy’s race strategy played out much like that of his two teammates but with an extra challenge or two. He started fifth, fell outside the top ten while in conservation mode, raced back to sixth but then lost a few spots on pit road. He rebounded to fifth, lost another six spots on pit road, charged back to fourth and got moved out of the way on the final lap to end up in fifth place.
When it was over, Purdy was pleased despite the challenges. “We had to overcome a lot this weekend,” he confirmed. “But everyone pulled together and did an excellent job. I felt like this was one of my better races I’ve put together. Having to come from mid-pack is tough but we keep finding a way. They know we’re here, that’s for sure!”
Crew chief Robert Huffman, who stepped in when Cully Barraclough became ill on Friday, was positive at the race’s end. “I thought Chase ran very well,” Huffman stated. “All these guys do what they always do which, given the situation I thought was key to the weekend. I think we had a top three car, we just got behind with bad pit stops.”
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