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Will Kimmel
Will Kimmel (Photo: Jeff Curry/ARCA Racing)

Scott Melton rewards Will Kimmel with the chance to race at Kansas Speedway

Scott Melton does not like sitting around.

Unfortunately, he has been doing a lot of that lately after suffering a compound fracture in his lower left leg in a crash during the General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23. The injury required two surgeries to repair and has sidelined Melton, a veteran of 28 ARCA Menards Series starts, for at least six weeks.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Melton told ARCARacing.com earlier this week that he also hurt his lower back in the crash.

“I’m in a situation where standing isn’t an option and sitting is very, very uncomfortable,” said Melton, who serves as the president of the Melton – McFadden Insurance Agency when he’s not at the race track. “It’s really hard to lay down for six weeks. As a matter of fact, right now I’m back in the office. I came in this week. I’m working up to where I’m trying to be in the office more and more.”

RELATED: Event schedule for the Dutch Boy 150 at Kansas

The 60-year-old had planned to be at Kansas Speedway this weekend to compete in the Dutch Boy 150, but that won’t be happening as he continues his recovery.

However, that doesn’t mean his No. 69 Toyota will be absent from the starting grid.

Melton has asked veteran ARCA competitor Will Kimmel to pilot his car this weekend at Kansas. He said putting Kimmel in the car was an obvious choice given his existing relationship with Kimmel Racing, the team that prepares and fields his race cars.

While Melton’s No. 69 is fielded by Kimmel Racing, Melton owns his own cars and engines. The agreement with Kimmel Racing allows Melton to focus solely on driving while knowing his race cars will be properly prepared.

Scott Melton, driver of the #69 Melton McFadden Insurance-Donna’s Donuts Ford, poses for a portrait before the the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire for the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on February 17, 2021. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)
Scott Melton, driver of the No. 69 Melton McFadden Insurance-Donna’s Donuts Ford, poses for a portrait before the the Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire for the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 17, 2021. (Photo: Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)

“The relationship with the Kimmels started in 2018 with one race they kind of helped out,” Melton said. “Over time we’ve kind of developed a unique relationship where I don’t own the team, they don’t own the gear. We have an odd relationship.

“It really came down to: ‘Do I park it? That’s the right decision for me. Do I put Will in it? That’s the right decision for the team.’ I felt like the right thing to do for the team was real simple, put somebody else in the car to keep Kimmel Racing on track.”

That mindset means the world to Will Kimmel, who is excited for the opportunity to race at Kansas for the first time since 2018.

“Obviously it’s a bad deal, there is no way around that,” Kimmel said about Melton’s injury. “I’m extremely grateful, at this point, because in my ARCA career no one has given me an opportunity to get in this type of equipment and say just treat it like your own. Go race the car and don’t worry about it.

“That’s exactly what Scott’s done.”

Kimmel, the son of team owner Bill Kimmel Jr. and nephew of 10-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel, has made 126 ARCA starts dating back to 2008. He has never visited Victory Lane during his ARCA career, but he is anxious to find out what he can do driving Melton’s car Saturday.

“Scott’s got really good equipment,” Kimmel said. “His equipment is what has allowed me to make my stuff better on the Kimmel Racing end and learn from it. He’s been nothing but a huge, positive asset to Kimmel Racing.

“For him to say just go run the car and race it, it’s super cool. At the same time, the situation sucks, but he wants to race and he wants to see his car on the race track. I’m going to go do my absolute best and hopefully have a good run with it.”

Melton’s goal is to be back in action by the time ARCA heads to Pocono Raceway on July 22. Until then, Kimmel will drive Melton’s car this weekend at Kansas and again on May 27 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“There is not a person that I have seen in my four years of being around pit road and the garage that works harder and deserves an opportunity to drive the car than Will Kimmel,” Melton said. “The guy is an animal. He’s dedicated, he’s devoted. He’s good at what he does. He could be doing this at the Cup level.

“In my mind, it’s a reward for his hard work and the team’s hard work.”

The Dutch Boy 150 at Kansas will be televised live Saturday, May 14, at 1 p.m. CT / 2 p.m. ET on FS1.