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ARCA: Schacht Out-Shines Memphis ARCA Stars

8 June 1998

By Don Radebaugh

With obvious determination and plenty of bold maneuvering, veteran ARCA racer Bob Schacht returned to the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series with a vengeance Sunday to win the inaugural Memphis ARCA 100 at the new Memphis Motorsports Park. The $20,775 payday included the AC Delco Wire & Cable Pole-Win Bonus award worth $5,500 after Schacht captured the Talladega Pole Award with a new track record of 119.585 mph around the mile oval in his Engineered Components Ford Thunderbird.

"My crew won this race for me," said the Chapin, South Carolina driver on the victory podium. "They set me up with a perfect race car. All I did was wheel it." All that and more as Schacht survived a close call with the turn four wall and late-race charges from Jeff Finley and Mark Gibson to score his 19th career ARCA victory in his 142nd start.

Finley, in his first start in the Ed Rensi owned Chevrolet Monte Carlo, trailed the winner by only .04 seconds at the final stripe to record his best career ARCA finish with Gibson in tow followed by Bob Strait and fifth place finisher Bill Baird. Gibson's third place finish was enough to wrestle the point lead away from Frank Kimmel who finished 27th after a meeting with the turn four wall forced the former point leader behind the wall for good just 34 laps from the finish.

Schacht's near perfect performance almost came to a grinding halt on lap 91 of the 100 lap event when lapped traffic forced the leader high in turn four. After missing the wall by inches, Schacht regained the handle but not before Gibson and Finley scooted by on the inside to take the first two spots. With the crowd already standing, Gibson and Finley staged a door-to-door duel for the lead while Schacht had to regroup with Strait and Baird in his rearview mirror. But the determined race-savvy veteran quickly regained his composure, drove away from Strait and tracked down the leaders to wage one final war with just five laps remaining. Schacht caught the leaders in traffic and this time used it to his advantage to race by both and took the lead for good on the 96th circuit. A lap later Finley dived underneath Gibson for second and that's the way they stayed as the field received the checkered flag from former NASCAR Winston Cup Chief Starter Doyle Ford who served as honorary starter for the inaugural show.

At the onset, Schacht led the first two laps before Kimmel, who started outside front row, took over for the next 27 rounds. Schacht then raced by Kimmel and showed the way up through lap 67 before Kimmel's turn four incident brought out the third caution period of the day sending the leaders down pit road for service. While Schacht, Gibson and Finley all took four new tires, Baird went with right sides only and drove off pit road first before the field went back to green on lap 74. Schacht, who came off pit road behind Baird, soon lost his position to Gibson who then out-maneuvered Baird for the lead just 18 laps from the finish. By the time Schacht and Finley raced by Baird for second and third respectively, Gibson had built a ten car advantage and appeared to be on his way to victory lane. But Schacht and Finley sought to deny Gibson the victory and quickly tracked down the leader. With laps winding down, and two fast race cars lined up directly behind, Gibson drove too hard into turn one causing his Ford to get loose opening up an inside lane for Schacht who charged underneath to retake the lead. Schacht then showed the way until his near-disaster in turn four gave it back to Gibson setting the stage for the dramatic conclusion.

In all there were eight lead changes capped by continual two and three wide racing that kept the fans standing until the very end.

Schacht also received $500 for being the Auto Value Parts Stores Halfway Leader while Dave Adcock, in his first ARCA start, won the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger honors for advancing the most positions.

Series Point Leaders: Mark Gibson 1380, Frank Kimmel 1365, Bob Strait 1190, Andy Belmont 1165, Jeff Finley 1155, Josh Baltes 1010, Norm Benning 995, Bill Baird 925, David Boggs 855, Curt Piercy 825.