Under brisk but crystal clear blue skies over a dozen ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) teams participated in the fifth open test session of the 2008 season preparing their automobiles for the ninth event on the 2008 ARS calendar, the Michigan ARCA 200 set...
Under brisk but crystal clear blue skies over a dozen ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) teams participated in the fifth open test session of the 2008 season preparing their automobiles for the ninth event on the 2008 ARS calendar, the Michigan ARCA 200 set to commence on Friday, June 13th shortly after 5:00 p.m. EST live on SPEED.
The series returns to the facility for the 27th time since 1980 with ARCA driver and SunTrust Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Tom Hessert poised to make his inaugural debut at the two-mile oval next month.
Hessert currently locking fourth in the incredibly tight SunTrust Rookie-of-the-Year standings has never competed in the Irish Hills of Michigan but won't have to turn far for guidance and support as crew chief Andy Belmont has turned an impressive amount of laps at MIS which should guide the likeable driver to another top-10 finish this season.
Entering Wednesday's test, 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.
Teams took to the track shortly after 9:00am local time with the complete day of testing scheduled to end at 5:00pm local time.
TOM HESSERT, NO. 1 MAACO COLLISON REPAIR & AUTO PAINTING-BOUDREAUX'S BUTT PASTE FORD FUSION:
HESSERT: (ON MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY) "I've never experienced anything quite like this before. It seems like a very cool race track and it will be awfully fun to race on in a couple weeks. I've been told you can race four, five and sometimes even six wide here, it will definitely be an exciting show for the fans."
HESSERT: (ON HIS GOALS FOR THE TEST) "I'm here to shake down our car and get experience on the track. You cannot expect to come to a track that you've never been before and run competitively on without any seat time. That's what we are doing here today. I'm getting myself acquainted with Michigan International Speedway so we can come back and be running near the top."
HESSERT: (DO YOU FEEL ANY NERVOUSNESS ABOUT COMPETING ON A TRACK YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO BEFORE?) "Yeah, maybe at first. But once you climb into that racecar and put those belts on the nerves go out the window and it's time to do your job. Everyone at Andy Belmont Racing does their job to give me very good racecars and I try and give 150 percent every time I go out onto the track."
HESSERT: (WHAT WOULD BE A GOOD FINISH WHEN YOU COME BACK TO MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY IN JUNE?) "Andy Belmont Racing is plenty capable of finishing inside the top-five on a weekly basis and that's what we are aiming for when we come back for the Michigan ARCA 200. I believe we have a competitive speedway program and we hope to put our Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Repair-Boudreaux's Butt Paste Ford in the mix and hopefully a win!."
HESSERT: (CAN YOU RUN A MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY LIKE A KANSAS SPEEDWAY OR KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY?) "Every track has their unique characteristics. I'm sure that there is something that I've learned from the test today that I compare all three tracks too. There's some major difference though too. I think drafting will play a role here at Michigan and luckily, I have experience doing that at Daytona. Michigan isn't like anything else I've raced before or will race this season. We're going to go out there and give it everything we have."
HESSERT: (IS THERE ROOM FOR ERROR AT A TRACK LIKE MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY?) "I believe so. It's going to be crucial though not to get yourself in trouble. You cannot afford to have any mistakes at a place like this. You can't ruin the fenders or you will be out to lunch. You may be able to spin and get away with it, but you just have to be smart and stay out of trouble. If you do that, your chances of being a contender are a lot higher."
HESSERT: (ABOUT RACING IN THE MOTOR CITY) "Obviously any time you have a race this close to Detroit, it's important. Ford is close and Roush-Yates have some business ties here, so it's important for our team to run good at Michigan International Speedway. When you run well with those components behind you, it's a win-win situation. I would love to give Ford and Roush-Yates motors a victory entering the big NASCAR weekend."
HESSERT: (FORMER ARCA DRIVER ANDY BELMONT IS YOUR CREW CHIEF, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE SOMEONE WITH HIS KNOWLEDGE HELP CALL THE SHOTS?) "I wouldn't ask for anyone different. Andy and I work real well together. I tell him what the car needs and he does everything he can to correct it. The communication is there and that's what you need to be successful in racing. I strongly believe that we can win races this year and be in the hunt for the championship by season's end."
HESSERT: (YOU'VE HAD AN AWFULLY GOOD SEASON SO FAR) "Yeah, we're pretty pleased. We started off on the right foot by leading some laps and finishing sixth at Daytona. We've had some top-10 finishes since at Rockingham and Toledo. The good thing for us is that we've been consistent. If we're not finishing inside the top-10, we're right outside of it. That type of performance and consistency is what wins you championships and that's what we are after this season."
HESSERT: (IS IT HARD BEING A ROOKIE IN THE ARCA RE/MAX SERIES?) "Yes and no. I put some pressure on myself to go out there and perform every week, but I feel comfortable knowing that I have a great group behind me. My sponsors have been behind me all season long and that brings a lot of confidence to a rookie driver. We're not gunning for two championships this year, but three. We want the point's championship, owner's championship and SunTrust Rookie-of-the-Year."