So far this year, its been a mix of drivers with lots of experience and young drivers making it to victory lane in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
Championship contender Tom Hessert is one of the more experience ones as he has one career victory under his belt, though he wants to make it two with his first of the season this weekend at the ‘Tricky Triangle’.
The second generation driver from Cherry Hill, New Jersey will make his seventh career start at Pocono Raceway this weekend in the Pocono ARCA 200 on Saturday afternoon.
“I’ve always enjoyed our stops in Pocono,” Hessert said. “The track is really unique which provides a different mindset of racing. You cannot afford to miss a beat as concentration is everything with a track that has three different turns.”
In the previous six starts, he has had success in the form of one top-five and two top-10s with a best of fourth last August.
“We were in New Jersey a couple weeks ago and couldn’t seal the deal, but we’re going to give it our all this weekend,” Hessert added. “I’m going to have some friends and family at the track on Saturday, so it would mean that much more to be the first one to take the checkered flag in our No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet.”
After finishing third in points last year with Cunningham Motorsports, Hessert joined Ken Schrader Racing to drive the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts entry. Six races into the season, Hessert has one top-five and four top-10 finishes, including a sixth place finish at Chicagoland Speedway last Saturday, which has him seventh in points, 135 points behind third. Armed with his crew chief from last year, John Monsam, Hessert is looking for more success.
“We had some bad luck at Daytona and Toledo, but everywhere else, we’ve been pretty competitive,” Hessert commented. “The great thing about working with John (Monsam) is that he knows what I am looking for already. Usually, we have to make just a couple tweaks and we are finding ourselves in contention. We finished fourth together last August at Pocono, so I know we both would like to improve on that Saturday.
“We’re six races in and it’s already been a really competitive season. As a team we just need to stay focused and concentrate on one race at a time and we should propel ourselves up in the point standings.”
While Hessert has 70 starts in the ARCA Series, Kory Rabenold is a driver who doesn’t have as much experience as he only has made 23 career starts.
Rabenold, a native of Slatingon, Pennsylvania, returns to his hometrack for his seventh start there for the first time in two years.
“We’re just thankful to be heading to the track this weekend,” Rabenold said. “It’s because a lot of dedication, time and effort that we’re able to get on the track this weekend. We don’t have a lot of sponsorship but in order to get sponsors, you have to be visible and try and stand out from the rest. That’s our goal this weekend. We’re going to the track with a story and hoping for a good finish that could allow us to come back in August.”
The 22-year old will be driving the No. 03 RabenoldRacing.com/Buzzy’s Auto Body Chevrolet Impala for the family backed team with support coming from 2010 Champions Sheltra Motorsports.
“We’re extremely thankful to Jon (Wolfe) and Sheltra Motorsports for giving us some assistance,” he said. “It’s always nice to have a caliber team like that, take some time for us. We may not have the same type of equipment that they won the championship with, but one thing is for sure, we have their same determination and passion!”
Their situation reminds him a lot of his first ever race at Pocono in 2007 as he will have his father Buzzy Rabenold calling the shots.
“When I first came to Pocono in 2007, it was our family owned team,” Rabenold said. “We had some sponsorship because the economy was better. We qualified 22nd, stayed out of trouble and finished 12th. It was a good day. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble and have a similar performance on Saturday.”
In the previous six races he ran at Pocono, he has had three top-20 finishes.
The Pocono ARCA 200 (80 laps / 200 miles) is the seventh of 19 events on the 2011 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. The 52nd ARCA race at Pocono Raceway is a two-day show. Practice begins Friday, June 10 with a one hour and fifty minute practice session planned from 10:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Menards Pole by Ansell qualifying is slated to begin later in the day at 2:05 p.m.
The field will take the green flag shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 11. The event will be televised same-day delayed on SPEED beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST. Live timing and scoring throughout the 1,319th race for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards since it was formed in 1953 will be available through the ARCA Racing Network (ARN) online at arcaracing.com presented by ARCANation.com. All times are local.