(DUQUOIN, Ill. - September 7, 2011) - For just their second dirt track event on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule, CGH Motorsports and their 19-year-old driver Chad Hackenbracht left an impression at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds Monday afternoon in the Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Auto Parts.
After a 10th place effort at the Illinois State Fairgrounds (Springfield) two weeks prior, the freshman team was eager to show more stability under the leadership of crew chief Kevin Reed.
Getting the job done was top priority for the rising star. The team was hopeful for a solid starting position that would aid them towards a stout run in the 16th race of the season.
After practicing 13th, the team turned their attention towards time trials. In Menards Pole by Ansell qualifying, it was Hackenbracht’s No. 58 Tastee Caramel Apple Chevrolet Impala SS that stunned the field with an exceptional lap that was good enough for fourth quickest overall, easily surpassing his previous best qualifying run of seventh which occurred earlier this summer at Iowa Speedway.
Starting the Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Auto Parts on the outside of row number two, it was Hackenbracht that wanted to grab some attention away from the dirt regulars of Ty Dillon (No. 41), Kelly Kovski (No. 39) and Will Vaught (No. 55). Once the green flag dropped, it didn’t take long for Hackenbracht to flex his muscle.
When A.J. Fike stalled on the track on lap two, the first yellow flag of the day was thrown with Hackenbracht making the move past Vaught and in the clutches of Dillon and Kovski.
The field restarted on lap five with Hackenbracht making a bold pass on the outside passing both cars by the time they entered turn one sending Hackenbracht into the lead for the fourth time this season.
The CGH Motorsports development driver would maintain the top-spot through lap 14 before Dillon and Kovski, both considered dirt aces reeled back in the No. 58. With Dillon passing the No. 58 by lap 15, it was Hackenbracht not going down without a fight after re-taking the lead on lap 16 from the Richard Childress Racing (RCR) rookie.
On lap 17, Hackenbracht found himself in a torrid battle with Dillon and Kovski for the top-spot. The No. 39 of Kovski shoved his way around the No. 58 on the backstretch to take the lead and drop the No. 58 to second. Keeping the fans in the stands cheering, Hackenbracht would again hustle his way past Kovski on lap 18 for a fourth consecutive lead change.
The CGH Motorsports team would maintain the top-spot through lap 22 before a dicey move by Dillon in lap-traffic moved the No. 41 back into first and shuffling the No. 58 into the runner-up spot. Coming to the start-finish line, the yellow flag would waive slowing the field down to 45 miles per hour.
Playing “follow the leader”, Reed elected to keep his driver on the race track when Dillon opted not to pit; once again putting them back in line together for a restart. When racing resumed, Hackenbracht once again tried to utilize the high line to pass Dillon but would be passed by the No. 32 of Chris Windom as the lead cars exited turn one.
A spin on the frontstretch on lap 36 would bring out the caution once again allowing Reed to bring his driver down pit road for his mandatory pit stop taking on four tires and fuel.
Restarting 14th on lap 40, Hackenbracht found himself in a wad of racecars trying to throttle his way back towards the front while trying to show patience at the same time.
Intense racing kept the field close with Hackenbracht 12th by the half-way mark. With the yellow flying for the fourth time of the day on lap 56 for the No. 11 car, it offered a chance for Hackenbracht and the rest of the pack to catch-up and line-up bumper-to-bumper.
A stout restart by Hackenbracht on lap 61 saw the No. 58 pick off four cars would be stalled as he was unable to get to the preferred bottom line entering turn one, deducting all the positions that the No. 58 had gained.
Settled in 11th by lap 65, Hackenbracht was eagerly trying to slice and dice his way through a pack of five racecars but the team would soon realize that track position would be the pivotal story of the day.
Despite battling back and forth for a position inside the top-10, the former Legends Car champion would hover between ninth and 11th until Mark Littleton spun in turn one on lap 86.
Knowing that it was now or never, Hackenbracht once again tried to utilize the high line to his advantage on the restart and made it work and found himself battling Will Kimmel (No. 68) and Grant Enfinger (No. 36) for a spot inside the race’s recognizable top-10.
Giving all he had behind the wheel, as Hackenbracht exited turn four on lap 98, his No. 58 Tastee Caramel Apple Chevrolet Impala SS slid into the treacherous high groove causing the rookie to lose control of his machine and slide into the outside wall immediately throwing the yellow flag into the air. Bruised and battered, Hackenbracht brilliantly did not lose a position on the track despite the spin and restarted 11th for the green-white-checkered finish.
The mangled General Motors piece would be a sitting duck on the final restart but with a determined driver behind the wheel, Hackenbracht during the two-lap shootout would lose just three positions due to an ill-handling automobile to take the checkered flag in the 14th position, one of 19 cars on the lead lap.
“Well, that didn’t turn out liked we had hoped,” offered Hackenbracht after the race. “We had a real good No. 58 Tastee Caramel Apple Chevrolet Impala SS. We showed that early on and I felt like that once we pitted we could easily make our way back towards that lead group, but almost everyone who pitted with us found ourselves in the same position where the field was so competitive and tight – and the track being difficult to pass, we were able to swap positions several times but unable to gain any ground on the guys at the front.”
He added, “I was giving all I could behind the wheel but once I got up in the real loose stuff near the end of the race, I just couldn’t hold on. It stinks, because we were working towards re-entering the top-10 when it happened. I guess this is a race where the finish doesn’t reflect the performance for sure.”
Reed praised his driver for his efforts at DuQuoin. “Chad was impressive. For his second dirt race ever, I think he amazed a lot of people with his car control and being able to hash it out with two of the best on the dirt early in the race. If we would have known that getting back to the front was as difficult as it was, we would have come when the other group stopped earlier. At that point of the race, we had to do what the leader did and our plan of attack was unable to materialize.
This is definitely a race where you look back at the finishing results and say you know and everyone that was their (at DuQuoin) knows that you were better than 14th but you couldn’t show it. We’ll just go to Salem and look to finish what we started there in May.”
Unofficially with three events remaining on the 2011 schedule, Hackenbracht continues to secure eighth in the championship standings just 170 markers from seventh now held by Tom Hessert III.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series is a return trip to Salem, Indiana for a Saturday-night shootout at the brutal half-mile short track for the running of the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic by Federated Car Care. The one-day show is set for Saturday, September 17th with the green flag scheduled to drop just after 7:15 p.m. The CGH Motorsports returns to the Southern Indiana track looking to redeem themselves from the Spring event where transmission issues halted the team from not making an attempt at victory lane after cleverly running in the top-five.
CGH Motorsports still has marketing partnerships available for the remaining 2011 ARCA Racing Series schedule and all of 2012. Interested parties can contact Jordan Dahl at Jordan@cghmotorsports.com or 570.234.5449.
Connect with Chad Hackenbracht and CGH Motorsports through Facebook by clicking here.
Tweet with Chad Hackenbracht through Twitter at @ChadH58 or CGH Motorsports @CGH5858.
About CGH Motorsports:
CGH Motorsports (CGHMotorsports.com), established in 2007 by Ohio entrepreneur Greg Hackenbracht is located in a 10,000 sq. foot facility located in Mooresville, North Carolina. CGH Motorsports is home of rising sensation Chad Hackenbracht, who competed in nine ARCA Racing Series races in 2010 after an aggressive ARCA testing schedule in 2009. Chad Hackenbracht is the 2008 National Asphalt Legends champion, winning 33 percent of his races and finishing in the top-10, 85 percent of the events he competed in. The team has stepped up their commitment from a partial schedule in 2010 to a full-effort in 2011 with the prospects of a two-car operation in 2012.