(KANSAS CITY, Kan. - October 10, 2011) - Sporting a catchy looking pink No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala for Ken Schrader Racing in the Kansas Lottery 98.9, Tom Hesserthis Donnie Richeson-led team had high hopes to kick off the month of October in the right direction.
Unfortunately, debris from a late race caution thwarted what appeared to be a strong top-10 finish in the making at Kansas Speedway.
The final one-day event for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards started off on a solid footing for Hessert and KSR. Hoping to utilize some of their knowledge from the open ARCA test last month, the team made a series of adjustments throughout practice before the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native landed the eighth quickest lap overall.
Still knowing that he had to consult with his team on changes to his pink No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala, the team remained optimistic heading into Menards Pole by Ansell qualifying. Hessert’s lap of 31.929 seconds at 169.125 miles per hour was good enough to land the KSR machine 10th on the starting grid, a personal best in the “Land of Oz.”
Confident about the ability of his racecar, Hessert joined 37 of ARCA’s finest to take the green flag just after 7:45 p.m. local. Quickly, the former CARS Pro Cup driver had moved into the ninth position by lap three and rose to eighth by lap five – proving that he had a fast machine under the Sunflower State skies.
By lap 15, the 25-year old had slipped back to the ninth position but remained in the clutches of Chad McCumbee. Seven laps later, a loose condition on the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala allowed Chad Hackenbracht to overtake him for the ninth position and settling in 10th.
The first caution flag of the night waived on lap 24 for debris allowing ample opportunity for Hessert to bring his KSR automobile to the attention of his team assisted by David Hyder, as crew chief Donnie Richeson played the double-duty role Friday night as both team leader and spotter. After receiving four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, Hessert returned to competition. Unfortunately, the team informed their driver that they had to serve a penalty under the yellow for a tire escaping from pit lane which also forced the former NASCAR Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car ace to start the contest from the tail end of the longest line.
Restarting 17th on lap 29, Hessert blasted his way through the pack and moved into the 16th position six laps later before finding himself entering the top-15 two laps later. A yellow flag would halt the field from racing conditions with Hessert occupying the 12th position.
Racing resumed on lap 40 with Hessert quick to get on the gas and determined to slice his way back into the top-10. When the next caution flag waived just after the halfway mark, Hessert sat 11th on the track. However, he would join the rest of the field for a routine pit stop when it opened.
Nestled in the 14th position on the restart, Hessert made quick work of Milka Duno and set his sights on Hackenbracht for 12th. With 40 laps remaining, the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala made an impressive move by bolting around both Hackenbracht and Ryan Wilson to claim 11th.
Five laps later, Hessert’s machine continued to throttle forward passing McCumbee and Tim George Jr. to hoist the ninth position where he would hover until his race took a dramatic turn in the closing laps.
When championship point’s leader Ty Dillon and Michael Leavine collided on the frontstretch with 12 laps remaining, a piece of debris struck Hessert’s Chevrolet bowtie creating a hole in the front end of the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet Impala.
Despite the damage, the team elected to keep their driver on the racetrack where he would restart seventh. When racing resumed, the damage would prove to dramatically change the handling of his General Motors automobile which meant that cars were passing Hessert left and right. A gallant effort behind the wheel allowed the team to take the checkered flag on the lead lap but having to settle for a discouraging 13th place finish.
“It’s frustrating because we had a good car,” offered Hessert after the race. “We pulled a piece of the No. 95 (Leavine) car from the hole and it was obvious why we went backwards on the restart. It’s a shame though because we should have finished solidly in the top-10 and we had to settle for 13th. That’s just been the way our cookie has crumbled lately. Everyone on the KSR team did a good job. It was a long day but they stayed focused and at times we flexed some muscle. All we can do is move on and go to Toledo and see what we can accomplish.”
He added, “I also want to remind everyone to log onto SchraderRacing.com and help us spread the word about Breast Cancer Awareness month. I was told that the car looked pretty slick on the track and it’s all for a good cause, so I’m excited to carry the paint scheme over to Toledo.”
With just one race remaining on the calendar, Hessert sits seventh in the championship standings 80 markers behind sixth place runner Tim George Jr. The curtain will fall on Hessert’s fourth year of full-time competition in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season on Sunday, October 16 when the checkered flag falls in the Toledo ARCA 200 presented by Federated Car Care. The final race of the year which consists of 200 laps will be televised live on SPEED beginning at 2:00 p.m. local.
In addition to Federated Auto Parts, Cherry Hill Classic Cars served as an associate marketing partner for Hessert’s 82nd career ARCA start. In those outings, he has maneuvered one win, 18 top-fives and 42 top-10s.
For more on Tom Hessert III, please visit tomhessert.com.
To join Hessert and Ken Schrader Racing in their plan to spread the message about Breast Cancer awareness and to order you own “Pink” KSR memorabilia, please visit SchraderRacing.com.