SALEM, Indiana (September 17, 2012) – – Days before the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Fall Classic by Federated Car Care, Tom Hessert III made it very clear that he was going to Salem (Ind.) Speedway this past weekend to win. He did.
Hessert, driver of the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet for Ken Schrader Racing recorded a popular win on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards tour in the 18th race of the season. It was Hessert’s second-career win in the series and first since Iowa Speedway in 2010. It also was the Cherry Hill New Jersey native’s first triumph driving for longtime Motorsports icon Ken Schrader, who was on-site to witness the victory.
Bringing their strongest Chevrolet in their KSR fleet, Hessert was confident in the car’s capabilities, especially with the direction and setup orchestrated by crew chief Donnie Richeson.
Two practice sessions on Saturday afternoon would allow the ARCA veteran to work with his team to fine-tune their No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet for the highly anticipated 200-lap showdown. Practicing ninth and seventh respectively, Hessert felt that he had a good racecar beneath him. And even though he qualified his automobile 11th, Hessert still wasn’t fazed, because he felt like heading into the final short track contest of the year, he still had one of the cars to beat.
Early on, Hessert played it smart. Knowing Salem’s typical characteristics, he took his time moving through the field, easily climbing into the top-10 within the first five laps of the race. Steadily moving forward, Hessert was stalking the top-five when disaster nearly struck on lap 47.
Exiting turn four, two lapped cars made contact and spun immediately blocking the path of the racetrack. The lead pack quickly came upon the incident scene with some making it through and some not. Luckily, Hessert was able to escape major carnage while the cars he was racing around would not be so fortunate.
With one potential disaster avoided, Hessert refocused on the job at hand. When racing resumed, the former NASCAR Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series pilot had worked his way inside the top-five by lap 77. Twenty laps later, Hessert cleverly crafted his No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet into the runner-up spot trailing leader Frank Kimmel II.
Following a caution shortly after the halfway point, which saw Hessert take on tires and fuel for the final time of the night, he overtook Kimmel II on a lap 123 restart to gain control of the field.
Despite an array of cautions in the final 77 laps of the event and even fending off a late charge by Chase Elliott, Hessert was able to extend his lead to nearly three seconds in the closing laps of the event and took the checkered flag first in his 10thcareer start at the 0.5-mile paved oval.
“I’m really into the history of our sport and hearing all about Salem and all of the guys who raced here, I’m glad I got to be one of the guys to go to Victory Lane here,” Hessert said. “The track just kind of worked out for us. We were all on the right tires at the right time. I knew if we could maintain with whoever was behind us for the first 10 laps (of a run), we could eventually inch away and that’s the way it ultimately worked out for us. Federated’s been our sponsor for the year, so it’s really, really cool.”
He added, “I really want to thank Donnie (Richeson), Ken (Schrader) and the entire KSR team for their hard work and belief in me. We’re going to go to DuQuoin next and see if we can’t make it back-to-back wins.”
In 15 races this season, Hessert has delivered one win, six top-fives and 10 top 10s and 84 laps led. Unofficially, he occupies ninth in the championship standings despite sitting out three races.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards tour is the reschedule Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Car Care. Originally planned for Labor Day, the final dirt track race of the season was shifted to October because of severe weather in the area. The one-day show will take the green flag at 1:00 p.m. local on Sunday, October 14.
Exiting Salem, Hessert has 98 career ARCA Racing Series starts. In those outings, he has maneuvered two poles, two wins, 25 top-fives and 53 top-10s.
For more on Tom Hessert III, please visit tomhessert.com.
Hessert has joined the Twitter crave. Follow and connect with him @TomHessert.