(OREGON, Wis. - August 28, 2012) - Despite posting his ninth top-10 finish this season in Sunday night’s delayed Herr’s Live Life with Flavor 200 at Madison International Speedway, ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards veteran Tom Hessert was extremely frustrated by his performance.
After posting finishes of second and fourth respectively in his two most recent ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards races at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and Berlin (Mich.) Raceway, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native was hopeful he could produce his third straight top-five run in the 17th race of the season.
In practice, Hessert posted the 11th quickest lap in his No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet for Ken Schrader Racing (KSR). After conferring with crew chief Donnie Richeson, the two were able to chat about changes to be made to their racecar for the final practice session of the weekend. Clearly, the changes worked after Hessert maneuvered himself to ninth overall and over three tenths of a second pickup.
By the end of qualifying, it was evident that the team was heading in the right direction after Hessert mounted the eighth fastest lap in time trials and found nearly two tenths of a second more from practice to record his seventh top-10 start of 2012.
With a solid starting spot ahead of him for race day, Hessert and the team left the track in good spirit.
Mother Nature though would change her tune on Sunday morning, drenching the facility and ultimately forcing track and ARCA Racing Series officials to delay the start of the Herr’s Live Life with Flavors 200 for several hours before taking the green flag nearly three and a half hours later than its original starting time.
From the drop of the green flag, the 26-year old driver maintained a position safe inside the top-10 even after momentarily dropping to ninth by lap 20 when nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel made his way around the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet.
10 laps later though, Hessert had positioned himself back into eighth after making a move on fellow Chevrolet competitor Chase Elliott. By lap 35, the first caution flag had flown after eventual race winner Chris Buescher went for a spin.
Now sitting in seventh, Hessert’s stress level began to peak as he noticed a change from his racecar as the motor began to lie down. Readily keeping Richeson informed, the team elected to keep their driver out on the track and fight towards the finish.
Thirty-five laps later, Hessert was able to push himself into the top-five after making a bold pass around the No. 32 of Mason Mingus. Four laps after making the pass, the second caution flag of the night waived offering the opportunity for Richeson to bring his driver down pit road for service.
Restarting fifth, Hessert attempted to keep his competition at bay, but it was clear that the lack of horsepower was playing against the likable driver as Clint King and Spencer Gallagher were able to make their way past him by the lap 90 mark.
By the halfway point, Hessert settled into seventh but was able to reel the No. 23 of Gallagher back in and make the move into sixth by lap 110.
The former NASCAR Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series pilot remained in sixth through a lap 132 yellow which sent the leaders including Hessert down pit road for their final-planned stop of the evening. With Hessert rejoining the field in eighth after others teams elected pit strategy for the lap 138 restart, the driver hunkered down and began setting his sights back towards the top-five.
By lap 150, Hessert had maneuvered himself back to sixth where he remained through an array of several late race restarts including a green-white-checkered to mark his second top-10 finish at Madison (Wisc.) International Speedway.
“It looks like we broke a valve spring,” said Hessert. “It lasted the whole race; we were just way down on horsepower. It’s a shame because we had a really good car but we were handcuffed because of the engine. I know all things considered a sixth isn’t too bad, but I feel like we should have been there competing for the win. We’ll try again at DuQuoin.”
Exiting Madison, Hessert has 96 career ARCA Racing Series starts. In those outings, he has maneuvered two poles, one win, 23 top-fives and 51 top-10s.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the annual Labor Day tradition at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds for the running of the Southern Illinois 100 on Monday, September 3. With just three races remaining in 2012, the quick 100-lap race will be the second and final time the competitors race on a dirt track this season.
For more on Tom Hessert III, please visit tomhessert.com.