Cunningham Motorsports ends season with Hessert in third, Self atop SCOTT Rookie standings

Cunningham Motorsports ends season with Hessert in third, Self atop SCOTT Rookie standings

October 5, 2014 – (Kansas City, KS) – The only piece of business remaining in the 2014 season for Cunningham Motorsports is the ARCA Racing Series annual banquet, when Tom Hessert will collect his third place awards and Austin Wayne Self will pick up the fourth Rookie of the Year award for Cunningham in 6 years, barring any “code of ethics” mistakes from Self.  December 13th will mark the close of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards 62nd season when the teams invade Indianapolis.  In addition to the driver awards, Cunningham’s Chad Bryant, crew chief for Austin Wayne Self, will take home the Cometic Crew Chief award.  As the Series closed the season at Kansas Speedway with the ARCA 98.9, Brandon Gdovic, in the third Cunningham Dodge was the highest finishing team driver with an 8th place finish in his 2nd ARCA Series start.

Brandon Gdovic  - Gdovic’s first experience in an ARCA stock car was in September when the three Cunningham teams participated in the open ARCA test at Kansas Speedway.  Gdovic was hoping to continue the trend that was set at the test when he was near the top of the speed chart.  The weather in Kansas City had other plans when the teams arrived for the race…as the ARCA officials had to red flag the only scheduled practice 15 minutes into the session.  With rain continuing through part of the morning, qualifying was cancelled… instead using that time for practice, where Gdovic posted the 8th quickest speed in the #72 American Messaging/Windstax Dodge.

Since the Cunningham organization has only competed the #72 Dodge in 6 previous races this season, Gdovic lined up for the start in 28th, based on car owner points.  After the green flag flew, Brandon quickly moved into the top-15, before reporting to his crew chief, “this is undriveable loose everywhere!!”  Crew chief Paul Andrews brought the #72 to the attention of the pit crew during the first caution period on lap 44 for four tires, fuel and a small air pressure adjustment before sending him back to restart in 11th.  Prior to the caution on lap72 involving teammate Self, Gdovic made a great move to avoid the spinning #22.  In the final 3 laps Gdovic had moved up into 7th, before losing one spot on the final lap to finish 8th.

Tom Hessert  - Coming into the Kansas weekend Hessert had a 20 point lead for the third spot in the points standing over 10-time champ, Frank Kimmel.  With qualifying cancelled and the starting lineup set by car owner points, Hessert started third on the grid.  After taking the green flag, Hessert quickly fell back, as far as 13th, even losing a lap to the leaders as the race ran green through the first 43 laps.  As the field saw the yellow for the first time, crew chief Kevin Caldwell called Hessert to the pits for 4 fresh Hoosiers, fuel and a wedge adjustment.  Hessert restarted his #77 Barbera’s Autoland Dodge in 12th on lap 58, where he stayed before moving up to 11th with 2 laps remaining in the race. 

The 11th place finish was enough to earn Hessert his second 3rd place award in the championship points race, as Kimmel was taken out of the race in the accident that also claimed Hessert’s teammate Austin Wayne Self.

Austin Wayne Self – Self was competing in his #22 AM Technical Solutions Dodge for the final time at Kansas Speedway, as the 18 year old plans to leave the organization and pursue his 2nd ARCA Series season with another team.  But, not before making a valid attempt to grab his first Series win. 

After starting from 7th, (with the lineup set by owner points) Self quickly moved up to 4th…running in and out of the top-5 during the long green flag during the first 43 laps.  With caution out at lap 44, Self’s crew chief Chad Bryant called the rookie in to the pits for 4 tires, fuel and a minor air pressure adjustment.  After coming off the track in 5th, a good pit stop by his Penske pit crew lined Self up in 4th on the restart on lap 58.  Self had a great restart, as he anticipated the leaders restart point and grabbed 2nd just past the start/finish line. 

 Another quick yellow set up the restart that no doubt has Self wanting a ‘re-do’.  On the restart, Self was lined up to the inside of leader Spencer Gallagher in 2nd.  As the two entered turn one they were side by side.  As spotter Richard Coleman continued to guide Self into turn 2, the top 2 cars remained side by side.  Going into turn three, Coleman said, “Hang on to it, buddy…hang on it”, as Self had just experienced the side draft as the Gallagher car had sucked the #22 around.  As Self was spinning a few other cars were collected, including ARCA Champ Kimmel…before the #06 of James Swanson slammed in the #22, destroying the Dodge. 

After getting the mandatory ride to the infield care center, Self returned to the garage to check out his extensively damaged race car.  Fortunately for Self, he had the SCOTT Rookie of the Year award all but locked up before taking the green flag—as he finished 22nd.

With almost two months before the Series finale, the banquet, the teams will get a short bit of downtime before jumping into high gear in preparation for the 2015 season.  The test at the Daytona International Speedway is scheduled for the week after the Series banquet, December 19-21.