(LONG POND, Pa. - June 12, 2012) - Tom Hessert and his Ken Schrader Racing team had high hopes for Saturday’s Pocono ARCA 200 at Pocono Raceway but after struggling with the handling of their No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala, the team knew they had a tall task ahead of them for the seventh race of the season.
With the 2.5-mile triangle being completely repaved since the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards last completed there last August, Hessert along with crew chief Donnie Richeson set their attention to the first practice session of the weekend on Friday morning to fine tune their No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala. After maneuvering the 12th quickest lap – the team knew they had some work to do.
An optimistic approach into qualifying turned into sheer frustration as an uncharacteristic 18th starting position would only send the KSR back into battle and prompt the team to prepare for happy hour as a final opportunity to try and manhandle their automobile. During happy hour, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native timed in the ninth quickest lap overall.
Fingers crossed for race day – the green flag waived shortly after 2:00 p.m. and it didn’t take long for Hessert to motor himself through the running order as by lap five he had moved into the 15th position. A lap later Hessert continued to be a man on a mission by moving into 14th.
The KSR would hang tight inside the top-15 with the competition caution on the horizon courtesy of the ARCA officials. That “free” caution would waive on lap 16, which allowed Hessert to bring his machine to pit lane where Richeson called for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
For the lap 20 restart, Hessert found himself ninth where he found himself hovering through the race’s midway point. During the course of the a long-green flag run, Hessert’s car would come to life and by lap 50, the ARCA veteran had worked his way to a race high of fifth before the final caution flag of the day waived on lap 59 meaning a final trip to pit lane.
The final routine stop included tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment trying to give Hessert the momentum that he would need to catapult his way towards the front. Restarting 10th, Hessert over the course of the final 18 laps of the contest would have to fight hard as he found himself in a series of gallant battles between himself, Josh Williams, Sean Corr and Ryan Reed. While chasing a loose racecar coming to the checkered flag, Hessert would escape Pocono with a solid 11th claiming his seventh top-13 performance of 2012.
“We’re not at all happy with our run,” said Hessert. “We chased the handling on our No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala the entire weekend and at one point during the race we worked ourselves into the top-fives – but we just didn’t have the car the way we needed to at the end and it cost us all the way around in the points and in the running order. We’ll go back to the drawing board and see what we can do to improve because we definitely want to come back and run a lot better in August and we’re planning to take this car to Michigan next Friday afternoon.”
After round seven of 20 events on the ARCA Racing Series tour, the 26-year old sits unofficially fourth in the championship standings just 85 markers from the top spot held by leader Brennan Poole.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series is the RainEater Wiper Blades 200 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) set for Friday, July 15. This will be the second consecutive race that the teams will embrace brand-new asphalt on a racetrack. The two-mile oval was also completely repaved during the off-season. Hessert is poised to make his fifth ARCA start in the Irish Hills.
Exiting Pocono, Hessert has 90 career ARCA Racing Series starts. In those outings, he has maneuvered two poles, one win, 22 top-fives and 48 top-10s.
For more on Tom Hessert III, please visit tomhessert.com.
Hessert has joined the Twitter crave. Follow and connect with him @TomHessert.