Monday, July 13, 2020

ARCA: Scott Melton first of three crash victims at Kentucky

IMAGE: FOX Sports 1
by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Scott Melton finished last for the second time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s General Tire 150 at Kentucky Speedway when his #69 Melton McFadden Insurance Agency Toyota crashed out after completing 16 of the race’s 100 laps.

The finish came in his sixteenth series start, and was his first since Lucas Oil Raceway in 2018, 26 races ago.

Scott Melton is an insurance salesman from Rockford, Michigan, a small town outside of Grand Rapids. He started his racing career in four-cylinder cars, and later bought a steel-body ARCA car from Bill Kimmel in 2018. He debuted that car at Berlin and ran it once more at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2018 before making a formal alliance with Kimmel Racing and announcing a half-season slate for 2019. That schedule focused on mostly tracks 1.5 miles and larger, and Melton nabbed top-ten finishes at Michigan and Chicagoland. Before the season started, Melton appeared to be on his way out of ARCA, putting equipment up for sale on and appearing primed for one last Daytona appearance before settling into a weekly super late model racing slate at Berlin. However, with Berlin closed for the pandemic, Melton has run four of six races in the #69 so far in 2020, including three of four post-hiatus. It seems as though sticking around has been worth it, as his worst finish before Kentucky was 11th.

Kentucky has not hosted the ARCA Menards Series since 2017. Like Pocono Raceway, the track allows drivers younger than 18 to race on it, providing that they have met certain requirements. That led to entries from eventual race winner Ty Gibbs and fellow sixteen-year-old Sam Mayer. Those were two of seventeen total entries for the field. Tim Richmond, featured in last week's article, was missing again from the entry list with Don Thompson taking his place in the #06. Dick Doheny and Willie Mullins returned to Fast Track Racing. Jason Kitzmiller and Derek Griffith returned in their partial schedules, and Ryan Repko and Tanner Gray continued part-time schedules in full-time entries. DGR-Crosley finally announced that Thad Moffitt would contest “most races” for the team, including Kentucky.

All 17 cars took time in practice, and Mayer led the group with a lap of 30.199 seconds. Brad Smith was at the bottom of the chart, running a best lap of 43.237 seconds. After hosting qualifying at Lucas Oil Raceway last week, ARCA went back to no qualifying this weekend, setting the lineup by a rulebook procedure. Jason Kitzmiller wound up with the last starting spot, alone in Row 9. Ahead of him would be Smith and Mayer, the bookends from practice starting next to each other in Row 8.
Coming to the green, a pair of white cars were visibly distant from the rest of the field. Those were the cars of Doheny and Thompson, giving courtesy as to not hold up faster cars like Mayer as they drove up through the field. Thompson was the first to go a lap down and was at least two laps down by Lap 10.

While Fox Sports did not have a camera that caught Melton’s crash, by all indications it appears as though the car just got tight off of turn two and slapped the outside retaining wall. After evaluating front suspension damage in the pits, the crew surrendered another borderline-top ten run and retired for the day.

Don Thompson pulled into the garage during the ensuing caution. Thad Moffitt was the next car to retire; he suffered much the same fate as Melton when his car snapped loose in turn two and backed into the wall. Hailie Deegan tangled with Drew Dollar on the ensuing restart and that damage was terminal, too. Doheny rounded out the Bottom Five as the last car running, 19 laps down.

17) #69-Scott Melton / 16 laps / crash
16) #06-Don Thompson / 19 laps / unknown
15) #46-Thad Moffitt / 70 laps / crash
14) #4-Hailie Deegan / 77 laps / crash
13) #12-Dick Doheny / 81 laps / running

1st) Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
2nd) DGR-Crosley, Fast Track Racing, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing (1)


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