(SALEM, Ind.) – It’s been a big year for the number 15 in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
Fifteen-year-old Kyle Benjamin won his second race of the season Saturday, winning the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic presented by Federated Car Care at the Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery. Benjamin, fittingly, was driving the No. 15, which has now visited victory lane six times on the season for Venturini Motorsports.
Benjamin grabbed the lead from fellow teenager Kyle Weatherman on lap 192 of the 200 laps race and held on for the win in the No. 15 Renton Coil Springs-Cometic Chevrolet.
“I was hoping nothing broke and a caution wouldn’t come out,” the Easley, S.C. native said.
Weatherman, in the St. Charles Glass-United Nissan Dodge, finished second for the second consecutive race. He took the lead from Benjamin on the last caution when the No. 15 pitted for two tires. Weatherman stayed on the track.
“We got two tires and a few of the guys I was racing against stayed out,” Benjamin said. “It was a great call by my crew chief, Kevin Reed. Tires are so big here. Kyle was hard to pass for about five laps, but once the tires came to me, I knew I could get by him.”
Veteran Frank Kimmel finished third, battling back from a lap down, to gain yet another top five finish in the No. 44 Ansell-Menards Toyota. Ken Schrader, in the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet, was fourth, and Mason Mitchell, driver of the No. 82 Happy Cheeks Ford, fifth. Mitchell was the first car not on the lead lap.
Weatherman said Benjamin got into him a little bit in turn four when he lost the lead.
“I probably would have done the same thing,” Weatherman said. “It was just racing. He and I had fast cars all night.”
Driving for car owner Andy Hillenburg, Weatherman took the lead early in the race and built up a huge lead when the race stayed green from laps 33 to 116. He led 66 laps in all.
“I was just calm and passing people, not doing anything stupid out there,” he said. “The car was good and things we’re going smooth.”
Schrader said he made a mistake with setting up the race car.
“I think I cost my team tonight,” he said. “I made a mistake. It’s been four years since I had been here and just made the wrong call. We were good late in the race, got it figured out.”
The three early race leaders all faded for one reason or another. Austin Wayne Self led the first 26 laps, and finished 10th in the AM Technical Solutions Dodge. Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell winner Justin Boston was strong early in the race, but transmission problems ended his day early. He led 19 laps and finished 23rd for Venturini Motorsports. Defending series champion Chris Buescher, in the No. 99 Reliance Tool-Roulo Brothers Racing Ford, also led 19 laps, but brake problems relegated him to the garage after 125 laps. Will Kimmel was in the top five until the last 20 laps of the race when troubles pushed him back to 12th place.
Championship point leader Kimmel, by virtue of the win, won the Bill France 4 Crown championship, a four-race series within the ARCA Racing Series season that counts only points in a set of four diverse races. Salem Speedway was the short track leg of the series that includes a superspeedway race, road course and dirt track.
Josh Williams, in the No. 02 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet, finished sixth.
“We tried,” Williams said. “Something was broke on the car. I tried to turn one way and it was going the other. It was crazy. If not for that, we might have been in the top three.”
Trevor Edwards, a Shepherdsville, Ky. native and second-generation driver at Salem, finished eighth in his ARCA Racing Series debut.
Mason Mingus entered the day as the SCOTT Rookie Challenge co-leader with Boston. The team had to change a motor after practice and fell several laps down early in the race. Mingus, in the 811 Call Before You Dig Toyota, however, rebounded for an impressive top 10 finish in his No. 32, which had a new paint scheme for the race.
Benjamin, who won last month at Madison International Speedway to become the youngest race winner in series history, led a race-best 70 laps. He took his first lead after the second caution of the race, leading from lap 117 to lap 177.
“As it got dark, it got really fast,” he said of his car.
His age will prevent him from making another start in the series this season as the ARCA Racing Series finishes with races at Kentucky Speedway and Kansas Speedway.
“It means a lot to finish it off with a win for Venturini, with my crew chief Kevin Reed and Billy Venturini mentoring me,” he said. “After the first two races of the season, I knew we’d win some races. This is such a strong team.”
ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Fall Classic by Federated Car Care
Salem Speedway (9-14-13)
|1||4||15||Kyle Benjamin/Easley SC||200||Running|
|2||5||11||Kyle Weatherman/Wentzville MO||200||Running|
|3||3||44||Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN||200||Running|
|4||10||52||Ken Schrader/Fenton MO||200||Running|
|5||6||82||Mason Mitchell/W. Des Moines IA||199||Running|
|6||14||02||Josh Williams/Port Charlotte FL||199||Running|
|7||12||68||Michael Lira/Port Orange FL||199||Running|
|8||15||29||Trevor Edwards/Shepherdsville KY||199||Running|
|9||27||32||Mason Mingus/Brentwood TN||198||Running|
|10||2||22||Austin Wayne Self/Austin TX||197||Running|
|11||8||55||Caleb Armstrong/New Castle IN||195||Running|
|12||11||69||Will Kimmel/Sellersburg IN||191||Running|
|13||16||35||Milka Duno/Caracas Venezuela||189||Running|
|14||19||10||Ed Pompa/Ballston Spa NY||183||Running|
|15||21||34||Darrell Basham/Henryville IN||181||Running|
|16||17||23||Spencer Gallagher/Las Vegas NV||175||Accident|
|17||20||2||Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL||167||Running|
|18||7||99||Chris Buescher/Prosper TX||125||Brakes|
|19||9||77||Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ||114||Accident|
|20||18||18||Bill Catania/Westfield NY||103||Brakes|
|21||22||97||Roger Carter/Sunfield MI||43||Vibration|
|22||25||48||James Hylton/Inman SC||37||Handling|
|23||1||25||Justin Boston/Baltimore MD||36||Tranmssn|
|24||26||40||Mark Meunier/Louisville KY||30||Handling|
|25||13||1||Blake Hillard/Owensboro KY||27||Accident|
|26||30||06||Wayne Peterson/Pulaski TN||23||Handling|
|27||24||3||Brad Smith/Shelby Township MI||2||Brakes|
|28||29||67||Chris Bailey/South Park PA||1||Handling|
|29||28||17||Kyle Hadley/Louisville KY||0||Handling|
|30||23||0||James Swanson/Clarksboro NJ||0||Handling|
|Menards Pole Award Presented by Ansell: Justin Boston 17.314 (115.398 mph)|
|Margin of Victory: 0.417 mph|
|Time of Race: 1:17:03|
|Lap Leaders: Self 1-13, 33-45 (26); Boston 14-32 (19); Buescher 46-64 (19); Weatherman 65-116,|
|178-191 (66); Benjamin 117-177, 192-200 (70)|