Pocono: Tom Hessert preview

Hessert; ABR Ready To Conquer Pocono Challenge LONG POND, Pennsylvania (June 4, 2008) - - Being an rookie in the ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) presents a lot of challenges, but for the driver of the No. 1 Maaco America's Bodyshop Ford Fusion, Tom ...

Hessert; ABR Ready To Conquer Pocono Challenge

LONG POND, Pennsylvania (June 4, 2008) - - Being an rookie in the ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) presents a lot of challenges, but for the driver of the No. 1 Maaco America's Bodyshop Ford Fusion, Tom Hessert, the SunTrust Rookie-of-the-Year candidate is ready to master his next challenge in Saturday's Pocono ARCA 200 from Pocono Raceway.

A tricky 2.5-mile triangular racecourse has the tendency to throw any driver off-course but for the collective Hessert, the freshman ARCA driver is ready to step up to the plate and be in contention for his first career ARCA victory in the eighth race of the 2008 season.

"I've never been to Pocono Raceway, but I'm excited about this weekend's race," said Hessert, who after seven races controls fourth in the championship standings. "This weekend provides another opportunity for me to gain some experience at a track that I've never been to before. We didn't have the opportunity to test at Pocono, but I'm relying on the experience of my Andy Belmont Racing (ABR) team to put us in contention."

Hessert doesn't have to worry about his team. With their Pocono performances last season, ABR arrives in Long Pond this weekend as a serious sleeper for the first of two trips to Pocono Raceway this season.

"ABR had a good year at Pocono Raceway last season," Hessert continued. "I know that Andy (Belmont, crew chief) knows what type of setup to put underneath our Maaco America's Bodyshop machine."

For crew chief Belmont, he's ready to see his talented young-driver continue to blossom at one of ARCA's most demanding race tracks.

"I think Tom will do just fine this weekend," offered Belmont. "I believe we'll see his previous road course racing experience come into play this weekend. Tom adapts very quickly to new tracks and I don't have any doubt he'll do the same this weekend."

When Hessert was asked what his biggest challenge may be as he heads into Saturday's anticipated thriller, he paused for a moment then replied, "Patience. It may be a unique word for this track but I think patience will be critical in Saturday's race. It's a long and short race all in one. There's plenty of opportunity to pass, but we don't have a lot of laps here. The goal for me is to stay sharp, stay up front and be in contention."

Hessert will pilot the automobile nicknamed "Nina", a car that ABR acquired from Roush-Fenway Racing last year. It is the same automobile that awarded the veteran ARCA team with an impressive eighth place last year at Pocono. It is also the same that ABR captured a top-five finish with at Gateway International Raceway last season.

Hessert has piloted this same piece once this season at Iowa Speedway where the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native stormed into the top-five only to fall victim to a tire failure. Hessert recovered to finish 11th.

"This is a good piece and I think its prior record at Pocono Raceway will play into our hands," sounded Hessert, who has amassed three top-10 finishes thus far in 2008. "With Andy calling the shots and Roush-Yates steam under the hood, the weekend has the potential to be very good."

Entering Pocono, Hessert, in Jennifer Belmont owned Ford Fusions controls fourth in the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series championship standings just 85 markers from the lead. In seven races this season, Hessert has claimed three top-10 finishes including a very stout sixth place run in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway followed by top-10 performances at Rockingham Speedway and Toledo Speedway respectively. He has controlled the ARCA field for once for 21 laps. The former USAC star will make his 10th career ARCA start Saturday.

Boudreaux's Butt Paste will join Hessert in his inaugural trip to Pocono Raceway as a major associate sponsor in this weekend's event.

The Pocono ARCA 200 (200 miles/80 laps) is the eighth of 21 events on the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. The first of two events held at Pocono Raceway this season is a two-day show. Practice begins Friday, June 6th with an hour and forty minute practice session planned from 10:15 a.m.-11:55 a.m. ARCA SIM Factory pole qualifying is slated to begin at 1:45 p.m. The field will take the green flag on Saturday, June 7th shortly after 1:00 p.m. The race will same-day tape delayed on SPEED scheduled to air Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. Additional race coverage including live timing and scoring will be available online at arcaracing.com. All times are local.

-credit: AndyBelmont.com

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Series ARCA
Drivers Andy Belmont , Tom Hessert