Tom Hessert Thunders To Runner-Up Finish At Lucas Oil RacewayPress Release
It was clear that the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native wasn’t fazed about the performance of his No. 52 Federated Auto Parts as Hessert and crew chief Donnie Richeson recently tested at the facility where they worked on several adjustments preparing themselves for any situation that may fall into their laps for the 13th race on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards tour.
Even though Mother Nature attempted to wash away track time for the ARCA Racing Series competitors, the Ken Schrader Racing (KSR) team posted the 12th and 17th quickest laps in the two practice sessions respectively. The long-time ARCA veteran would debrief with his crew chief following happy hour about wholesale changes to be made to their No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala leaning into qualifying.
In time trials, Hessert stepped up to the plate and maneuvered his bowtie around the .686-mile oval in 22.675 seconds at 108.999 miles per hour – landing him 12th overall on the starting grid for the ninth ARCA race held at Lucas Oil Raceway.
From the drop of the green flag, Hessert wasn’t afraid to mash the gas and attempt to move his way to the front. In a wad of traffic, the 26-year old found himself 14th overall by lap five. 10 laps later though Hessert found himself inside the top-10 and pedaling forward.
The first yellow flag of the day waived on lap 20 with the popular driver idling in the 10th position. Hovering in the 10th position through lap 35 – Hessert would make the move for ninth passing Grant Enfinger and setting his sights on points leader Chris Buescher.
10 laps after passing Enfinger, Hessert was able to make the move by Buescher coming out of turn two onto the backstretch moving him into eighth. The second caution flag of the day would waive on lap 52 when leader Matt Crafton crashed in turn one moving Hessert into the seventh spot. The yellow offered the opportunity for the lead pack including Hessert to come to pit lane for tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help Hessert rotate his automobile around the track.
Racing resumed on lap 61 with Hessert in ninth despite two leaders staying out on the racetrack on older tires. By lap 70, Hessert had momentarily slipped back to 10th but just two laps later, the driver made a move on Brennan Poole and quickly caught the pack of sixth through eighth. On lap 75, Hessert moved into seventh and set his sights again on passing Enfinger and Matt Lofton.
Through the halfway mark, the former NASCAR Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car star hovered in eighth but in reach of seventh. The caution waived for the third time on lap 107 allowing Hessert to communicate with Richeson about his racecar. With the leaders electing to stay out, the KSR gang did the same.
Maintaining his space inside the top-10, the yellow would waive for debris on lap 134 allowing Hessert to make his final pit stop of the evening. Richeson called for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment.
The adjustments proved to be pivotal for Hessert as his No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala came to life within the final sixty laps of the race. Restarting 10th with 40 laps remaining, Hessert’s began rocketing through the field and with some courageous driving, the second-generation driver found himself third with 34 laps to go.
He remained in the podium position behind the No. 6 of Mason Mitchell but also tried to keep fourth place competitor Brennan Poole at bay. With 23 laps remaining, Poole on fresher tires would be to work his way around the No. 52 dropping Hessert to fourth.
Hessert’s chances of fighting his way back into the top-three came back to life when the caution flag waived inside eight laps remaining allowing him to tuck into the trenches of leaders Frank Kimmel, Mitchell and Poole.
The race restarted with three laps remaining with Mitchell spinning his tires on the restart and quickly allowing Hessert to move into third. Hessert now found himself battling the Venturini Motorsports duo of Poole and Kevin Swindell for second place. As the trio exited turn three coming to two laps to go – casual short track contact was made between Poole and Hessert which allowed the No. 52 to soar into second and take the checkered flag behind winner Frank Kimmel.
“We had a really solid night,” said Hessert. “Our No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala was good. Kenny (Schrader), Donnie (Richeson) and the KSR guys gave me a good car. We worked at it on practice. It wasn’t the best. When we started the race, we were a little free then got it too tight then were able to get it comfortable. The No. 6 car had a rough restart there at the end and we were able to get a couple spots and it got pretty wild there with a couple to go in turn three but it worked out in our favor. It was a good race, I’m just proud of the guys and I’m happy to be back in the top-five.”
The run was Hessert’s fourth top-five of the year and season-best thus far in 2012. Overall, it was the team’s seventh top-10 in 12 races. The last time Hessert notched a runner-up finish in the ARCA Racing Series occurred at the Illinois State Fairgrounds (Springfield) where he finished second after starting seventh last August.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is a return trip to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for the running of the Pennsylvania ARCA 125 in a double-header combo with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at the 2.5-mile triangle. The 14th race of the year will air live on SPEED beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.
Exiting Indianapolis, Hessert has 95 career ARCA Racing Series starts. In those outings, he has maneuvered two poles, one win, 23 top-fives and 50 top-10s.
For more on Tom Hessert III, please visit tomhessert.com.
Hessert has joined the Twitter crave. Follow and connect with him @TomHessert.
- Tom Hessert Media Relations Press Release
Article Tags: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Brennan Poole, Chris Buescher, Donnie Richeson, Frank Kimmel, Grant Enfinger, Illinois State Fairgrounds, Ken Schrader, Kevin Swindell, Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis, Mason Mitchell, Matt Crafton, Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 by Federated Car Care, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NCWTS, No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala, Pennsylvania ARCA 125, Venturini Motorsports