[media-credit name=”ARCA Racing Network” align=”alignright” width=”180″][/media-credit]SALEM, Indiana (April 25, 2012) – – When the garage opens for business Saturday morning at Salem (Ind.) Speedway for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards tour, most of the garage area will be filled with familiar faces. Blake Hillard won’t be a familiar face to most on the grounds but the people supporting him for Sunday’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 will be.
Hillard, a native of Owensboro, Kentucky has partnered with Brett Hudson Motorsports (BHM), another race team based in the Bluegrass State to vie his chances of competing in an ARCA Racing Series contest. Hillard will drive the No. 10 Hillard Racing Chevrolet Impala, a former vehicle that was utilized in the BHM stables.
The rookie may be familiar with Salem’s taunting characteristics but never has he been surrounded by 34 of ARCA’s finest in a tightly nestled field. However, Hillard has some of the best in the business surrounding him, including ARCA driver Brett Hudson and crew chief John Hayden, a former winning crew chief at the historic Southern Indiana race track.
In order to fully grasp what’s lying ahead for the Kentuckian, he recently participated in a private test at the half-mile oval where his lap times were impressive. His efforts behind the wheel would have easily put the veteran Late Model driver into the top-15 in the most recent starting field at Salem.
“I’m excited to get the weekend underway,” said Hillard, a competitor in the ARCA / CRA Series. “I can’t begin to thank everyone who’s helping make this run possible. From my family to every single soul on the Brett Hudson Motorsports team, their support and confidence in me has been overwhelming and I think they are just as antsy to get to the track as I am.”
The 23-year old continued, “You never know quite what to expect in your first run in any type of series, but I’m fortune enough to be surrounded by a gaggle full of people who really know this track with these cars inside and out, so that will make my job a little easier, hopefully. I would be exceptionally happy if we can leave on Sunday afternoon with a solid top-10 run.”
The Hillard Racing team which is competing in the third race of the year sponsorless is hoping to compete in a handful more of events this year and is hoping to utilize the knowledge surrounding him to get him there.
“We’re looking at some more short track races, but we’ll first have to see how we do this weekend,” Hillard mentioned. “We’re doing some talking as far as some sponsorship is concerned, but maybe if we can go out there and prove our worth, we’ll be lucky to turn some of those conversations into something more. I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to run at Salem this weekend. It’s an experience I don’t plan to soon regret.”
Hayden, a former ARCA racer himself is prone to working with up and comers. Hillard is another just another name for him to add his docket. In 2009, Hayden guided 2010 ARCA Racing Series champion Patrick Sheltra to his first-career ARCA victory at Salem Speedway.
“Blake did a good job at the test, so we should be fine this weekend at Salem,” said Hayden. “Salem’s a tough track for a rookie, but I believe that Blake is up for the challenge. We’ve put a lot of hard work into this car and he (Blake) is enthusiastic about doing his job behind the wheel. We’ll just go out there and give it our all and hope for a good day.”
The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 (200 laps / 111 miles) is the third of 20 events on the 2012 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. The 91st ARCA race held at Salem Speedway is a two day show. Practice begins Saturday, April 28 with a forty-five minute session planned from 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Final practice also consisting of forty-five minutes begins at 1:15 p.m. and will conclude at 2:00 p.m. Menards pole qualifying presented by Ansell is set for later in the day slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. An on-track autograph session has been etched in on race day on Sunday, April 29 set to launch at 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. The event will take the green flag shortly after 2:15 p.m. The race will not be televised but race coverage including live timing and scoring will be available through the ARCA Racing Network (ARN) online at arcaracing.com. All times are local.