SALEM, Ind. — Dominant performances have become the norm for Sammy Smith in 2022.
The status quo remained in place during the Herr’s Snacks 200 at Salem Speedway on Saturday afternoon, as Smith led every lap to claim his eighth victory between the ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series East this season.
Despite having never seen Salem prior to the weekend, Smith never once doubted that his car would be the strongest yet again once the green flag waved.
“[It all comes down to] preparation,” Smith said. “[Salem] is pretty close to Winchester [Speedway] as well, but it was a good day overall and I’m glad we were able to win.”
Having won the prestigious Winchester 400 last year, Smith knew he could maintain track position at the front of the field if he took care of his equipment.
The black and gold No. 18 TMC Transportation Toyota never missed a beat the entire afternoon, as Smith posted the fastest time in practice before qualifying on pole and running the Herr’s Snacks 200 at his own, efficient pace.
With Smith being in his own zip code the whole day, the best battle at Salem turned out to be the ongoing championship fight between Nick Sanchez and Daniel Dye.
Sanchez held a five-point advantage ahead of Dye coming into the penultimate event of the 2022 ARCA Menards Series season, but an ill-handling car prevented Sanchez from contending for the lead and forced him to settle for a sixth-place finish.
Dye took advantage of Sanchez’s struggles to come home in third for his 13th top-five finish this year. The day was far from an easy one for Dye, who fell one lap down early, but he departs Salem more confident about his title hopes ahead of next Saturday’s finale at Toledo Speedway.
“We didn’t start off very good,” Dye said. “My GMS Racing team just fought hard all day and made good changes. It’s super cool to come out of here with a podium and gain three points in the championship fight. Going into Toledo [Speedway], it’s going to be fun.”
Although Dye has not won this year, he has led more laps than any other driver who has competed in every ARCA Menards Series race in 2022 and is confident that he and GMS Racing have inched closer to a breakthrough every single race.
Now unofficially trailing Sanchez by two points in the standings, Dye said the goal for Toledo is to build off everything that has worked for his team so that they will have a car ready to challenge Sanchez for the ARCA title.
“We just have to do this again,” Dye said. “We have to keep fighting, make good changes, worry about ourselves and hopefully it will shake out the way we want it to.”
While Dye and Sanchez battle it out for the series championship, Smith’s only focus at Toledo will be to add another victory to what has been a stellar 2022 campaign.
Following Saturday’s dominant triumph, Smith has every reason to believe another one is in store next Saturday.
“I’m going to go kick their butts again,” Smith said.
Jesse Love finished runner-up to Smith at Salem, with Dye, Will Kimmel and Taylor Gray rounding out the top five.
Sanchez, Greg Van Alst, Toni Breidinger, Amber Balcaen and Byrce Haugeberg were the rest of the top 10 finishers.
The 2022 ARCA Menards Series season concludes on Oct. 8 at Toledo Speedway. The race will be broadcasted live on MAVTV and streamed on FloRacing, with the green flag set to wave at 4 p.m. ET.