NOTEBOOK: Scott Melton ready to race at Pocono after recovering from injury
(Photo: Dustin Chambers/ARCA Racing)
Scott Melton received the news he was waiting for last week when doctors cleared him to return to ARCA Menards Series competition.
Melton has been sidelined since being injured in a crash during the ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway in April. Melton suffered a compound fracture in his lower left leg, an injury that required multiple surgeries to repair.
“It’s been about three months (since the injury) and the last month has gone by relatively quickly,” Melton said. “The pain is almost gone. I’m at 95%. I didn’t know at the time of the injury how much the ankle was involved.
“So up to the point where I got a stiff ankle, I’m a bit slow going up and down stairs, and I wouldn’t run a marathon, but I’m good to go.”
Melton returns to ARCA competition at the site of one of its top race tracks, Pocono Raceway, which hosts the General Tire Delivers 200 this Friday (6:30 p.m. ET on FS1). He earned one of his six top 10 finishes in ARCA competition at Pocono in 2020 as well as a 13th-place finish in 2019.
ARCA in Pocono: List of entries | Full calendar of events
Melton said his pair of strong performances at the 2.5-mile cobblestone tri-oval were one of two reasons he decided to return to action this Friday.
“Traditionally, we’ve been good at Pocono. I would say I’m very comfortable in Pocono,” Melton said. “The second that really works in our favor is that there is a test day before (Thursday). I think we have about five hours of track time to get back in the car and pick up speed. very good timing.
Although Melton has been sidelined for the past few months as he recovers, that doesn’t mean his No. 69 Toyota has been taken away from the race track. Will Kimmel drove the car in two races in Melton’s absence, earning a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway. He also raced at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but an accident derailed his efforts in that event.
“There’s no better name in the ARCA world than the Kimmels,” Melton said. “No one does a better job or works harder. They just did a phenomenal job. As expected, Will was exactly what I expected. It is good. They made some changes to the car and honestly having him in the car for two races I think has moved us forward a bit as a team.
Looking ahead to Friday’s race at Pocono, Melton believes his gear is capable of a top-five finish. However, the 60-year-old is realistic about his own abilities.
“I believe the equipment and the team are capable of a top five,” Melton said. “But the reality is, to be totally realistic, I wouldn’t be happy with anything outside of the top 10.”
Andy Jankowiak keeps busy between ARCA starts
When Andy Jankowiak was last on the ARCA Menards series, things got a little too hot for his liking.
Jankowiak was racing the General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27 when his No. 73 Ford caught fire, forcing him to retire from the race. The car sustained significant damage from the fire and required extensive work before it could return to the race track.
Since then, Jankowiak and his small team have been working tirelessly to fix the damaged car, but that doesn’t mean Jankowiak hasn’t had time for a bit of racing alongside.
The 34-year-old from Tonawanda, New York piloted a Sportsman Modified through the Northeast. He picked up a victory in the Sportsman Modified competition at Spencer Speedway in Williamson, New York on June 17. He backed that up with another Sportsman Modified at Holland International Speedway in New York on July 9.
He was back in action in the Sportsman Modified competition on July 14 at the Lancaster Motorplex in New York, where he used a last-lap pass to claim his third victory of the season.
He’ll be looking to take that momentum with him when he competes in Friday’s General Tire Delivers 200 at Pocono Raceway. He was in the field when ARCA traveled to Pocono last season, earning a seventh-place finish against a 25-car field.
Double drivers ready to take on Pocono
A handful of competitors will be competing in not one, but two events this weekend at Pocono Raceway.
They include several riders who compete in Friday’s General Tire Delivers 200. Chief among them is Brandon Jones, who will make his third ARCA Menards Series season debut in the No. 81 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing while competing in Saturday’s NASCAR. Race Xfinity Series in the #19 Toyota for JGR.
He will be joined by three other drivers planning a double serve, including ARCA Menards Series championship leader Rajah Caruth. In addition to Friday’s ARCA event, Caruth is set to make his third NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the year driving for Alpha Prime Racing.
Sammy Smith will also compete in ARCA and NASCAR Xfinity Series events, who will again drive No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series competition at Pocono. Smith made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Road America, where he started eighth and finished 24th.
Finally, Kris Wright will once again complete a few more laps in the ARCA Menards Series competition when he jumps into the No. 02 Chevrolet fielded by Young’s Motorsports. Wright drives for Niece Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which takes place Saturday in Pocono.
- With no previous Pocono Raceway winners on the field, the ARCA Menards Series is guaranteed to have a new Pocono winner on Friday night. He will continue a string of different winners on the 2.5-mile highway dating back to 2007, when Chad McCumbee was victorious. He was the first in a series of 28 different drivers in as many ARCA races to make it to Victory Lane in Pocono.
- Zachary Tinkle, who missed the last two rounds of the ARCA Menards Series, returns to competition on Saturday aboard Wayne Peterson’s No. 06 Chevrolet.
- Rajah Caruth enters Friday’s race with a six-point lead over Nick Sanchez in the ARCA Menards Series standings. Daniel Dye is third, eight points behind.