Gibbs dominates ARCA Fall Classic at Salem Speedway



Ty Gibbs, grandson of three-time Super Bowl champion coach Joe Gibbs, must have received some stellar coaching ahead of the ARCA Fall Classic. The 17-year-old rookie led 196 of 200 laps on his way to taking his second career ARCA Series victory Saturday night at Salem Speedway.

Gibbs, who also earned his career-first pole award, seemed to be on a rail. The Huntersville, N.C. rookie gave up the lead just once when runner-up finisher Christian Eckes beat the Joe Gibbs Racing team off pit road after a four-tire stop. It didn’t matter though as Gibbs charged right back into the lead on the restart and drove away from the competition.

“The car was so good tonight; it would have been hard to lose this one,” said Gibbs. “We only lost the lead once, but I wasn’t worried. The car was so good, I knew we’d get it right back.”

Gibbs’s grandfather Joe Gibbs, also a four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion team owner, was on hand for the big show and joined his grandson in victory lane.

Eckes not only finished second, but closed the gap in the championship chase with just two races remaining after championship leader Michael Self spent the majority of the race behind the pit wall with mechanical issues. Self, who had a 70-point lead going in, left with a slim five-point advantage over Eckes.

“I hate it for Michael (Self),” said Eckes, of Middletown, N.Y. “He’s a great friend and if we’re going to beat him in the championship, I’d rather do it on the track. We just didn’t have anything for the 18 (Gibbs); he was beating us all the way around the track. We’ll take what we got and go to Lucas Oil (Raceway) and give it our best.”

Marietta, Ga.’s Corey Heim tied his career-best ARCA finish in third.

“When we bolted on those four fresh General Tires at the end, the car just came alive,” said Heim. “This is definitely the most challenging race track I’ve ever raced on, and I loved every minute of it.”

Munford, Ala.’s Bret Holmes finished fourth ahead of Franklin, Wis.’s Sam Mayer in fifth.

In earlier action, Louisville’s Kyle Hadley held off Sellersburg, Ind.’s Will Kimmel to win the 50-lap feature event for the Lucas Oil Great American Stocks. Hadley capitalized on the misfortunes of Todd Kempf and David Bayens, who tangled battling for the lead just ahead of Hadley. Bayens made contact with the backend of Kempf’s car in turns three and four resulting in both cars spinning. Both Kempf and Bayens were sent to the tail-end for the restart and neither driver was able to get back to battle for the win. Kimmel, by virtue of his second-place finish, clinched the season championship in the Lucas Oil Great American Stock division.

“Our plan was to just get in line and ride tonight,” said Kimmel. “As it turned out, we had to go a little harder than we wanted to, but it all worked out. It’s been a great season; got the pole again, finished second and won the championship. Big thanks to all our guys…we’ve got a lot of hard-working volunteers on this team…thanks to E3 Spark Plugs, T&T Construction, Eddie Gilstrap Motors, Jax Wax and all the sponsors who make it possible.”

Austin Baum (Shepherdsville, Ky.) finished a career-best third. Jamie Goodman finished a career-best fourth.

Kempf rallied back to finish fifth head of Bayens in sixth.

The next event at Salem Speedway is the Xtreme Roval 150 for the Front-Wheel Drive Compacts and the full-sized Crown Vics Sunday afternoon, Sept. 29.

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