Tom Hessert Gathers Top-10 Finish In Wild Daytona Finish
Tom Hessert Gathers Top-10 Finish In Wild Daytona Finish
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 20, 2012)
Knight Motorsports Management
Ken Schrader Racing
February 20, 2012
- - Tom Hessert III earned his first top-10 finish at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (DIS) since 2008 Saturday in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season-opener, however Hessert’s car returned to the garage area mangled after being collected in an accident coming to the checkered flag in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.
Hessert under the direction of veteran crew chief Donnie Richeson were excited about their chances heading into “The World Center of Racing” and it was clear why. In the first practice session of the weekend on Thursday afternoon, Hessert posted the fourth fastest time overall giving the Ken Schrader Racing (KSR) good vibes about their No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota Camry.
The good morale of the team continued into Menards pole qualifying presented by Ansell when Hessert posted a time of 49.449 seconds at 182.006 miles per hour, which at the time was good enough for sixth, but when two cars failed post qualifying inspection, Hessert was lifted to fourth for the starting grid of the 49th annual ARCA event at DIS.
43 cars took the green flag with Hessert maintaining his presence inside the top-five. Hessert would find himself locked with outside pole sitter Ryan Reed on the high side but drifting back in the running order to 10th with the first caution flag waived on lap seven. It was then that Richeson elected to bring his protégé down pit road for a fuel only with Hessert returning to the track in the 19th position.
The former CARS Pro Cup Series (formally known as the USARacing Pro Cup Series) run back to the front though would be stalled when the No. 12 spun on the backstretch ultimately bringing out the second yellow flag of the day thus giving Richeson the opportunity to bring his driver to pit road for another splash of fuel.
Returning to the racetrack in the 33rd position, the veteran would have to show extreme patience in a field full of rookies to climb his No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota Camry back towards the front.
By the half-way mark, Hessert found himself still clutched onto the lead draft but hovering in the 22nd position and surrounded by a gaggle full of racecars. Still, Hessert continued to march forward. By lap 63, Hessert had climbed the ladder and found himself in the 16th position.
A multi-car accident ensued on lap 79, bringing out the yellow flag and allowing the former NASCAR Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car driver to mentally prepare for the final laps of the race. Richeson though during the yellow informed his driver to bring his Japanese nameplate to pit road for a gas-‘n-go putting the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native 18th in the line-up.
With five laps remaining, Hessert immediately began trying to blast his way to the front utilizing the bumper of Chad Hackenbracht and Frank Kimmel to get there, Hessert moving forward would be halted with two laps to go when the No. 17 was spun bringing out the event’s final caution.
A green-white-checkered would be placed in the lap of Hessert. On the restart, Hessert continued to craft his way to the front but found himself taking abrasive actions coming to the checkered flag as the two leaders at the front of the pack ran out of fuel; contact from the chaos unraveled with Hessert being collected in the wreck and initially crossing the line 13th. Three drivers ahead of Hessert though were penalized for passing below the yellow line which raised Hessert into the top-10.
“It was an interesting race,” offered Hessert. “Our No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota Camry was strong, and I have to give it all to these guys on the Ken Schrader Racing team. The outside line didn’t go at the start of the race, so we tried to use the cautions to our advantage. We were making headway to come back to the front and we stalled out there near the end of the race. We came down during the last stop just making sure we were good to go to the finish. Coming to the finish, the leaders ran out of gas and it sent everyone scattering to dodge them and it really just screwed everyone up and some cars got together and unfortunately we were collected. It doesn’t matter where you finish, you hate to bring home a wrecked racecar when you can see the checkered flag.”
Still with mixed feelings on the finish, Hessert was offering his thoughts on the upcoming superspeedway race at Talladega in May. “I’m looking forward to Talladega,” he added. “This (rule) package works a lot better at Talladega than it does at Daytona, so I think you’ll see a more exciting race there. Hopefully this car is salvageable and we can get it ready for Talladega, because I would love to take it back there.”
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will be the first of two stops in the state of Alabama with the sanctions first ever visit to Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway for the running of the Mobile ARCA 200 on Saturday, March 10.
Exiting Daytona, Hessert has 84 career ARCA Racing Series starts. In those outings, he has maneuvered two poles, one win, 19 top-fives and 44 top-10s.
For more on Tom Hessert III, please visit tomhessert.com.
Hessert has joined the Twitter crave. Follow and connect with him @TomHessert.
PHOTO CAPTION: Tom Hessert, driver of the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards for Ken Schrader Racing.
NAME: Chris Knight, Knight Motorsports Management
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