Rockingham: Round three preview

Rockingham Has Deep Significance for ARCA RE/MAX Series Competitors; ARCA RE/MAX Series Competitors Ready to Visit the Rock ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina (April 15, 2009)-From established drivers to raw rookies to veteran car owners, Rockingham ...

Rockingham Has Deep Significance for ARCA RE/MAX Series Competitors; ARCA RE/MAX Series Competitors Ready to Visit the Rock

ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina (April 15, 2009)-From established drivers to raw rookies to veteran car owners, Rockingham Speedway has created a stir among ARCA RE/MAX Series competitors.

The historic, one-mile oval, owned by former ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion Andy Hillenburg, will be the site of two ARCA RE/MAX Series races in 2009, including this weekend's Carolina 200 (Sunday, April 19 live on SPEED at 1 p.m. Eastern) and the October 11 ARCA Championship Weekend.

Kimmel_Frank The track has historical and personal significance for many ARCA RE/MAX Series competitors, including nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion Frank Kimmel, driver of the No. 44 Ansell-Menards Ford.

"There's so much rich history at Rockingham Speedway, so when ARCA decided to go back there last year I was really looking forward to it," said Kimmel. "I remember walking into the track for the first time with the team and seeing 'The Rock' written on the wall. It reminds you that over the last 40 years this track has seen some of racing's greatest battles and has played a big part of stock car history. For me, a win at 'The Rock' would definitely be one of the highlights of my career."

Justin Lofton, the current Series points leader, considers last year's ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Rockingham a turning point in his career.

"When I first heard we were going to Rockingham last year I was more than excited," said Lofton. "Pulling into Rockingham Speedway was like taking a step back into the past. The Winston Cup billboard still stands behind turn 3 and turn 4. It is awesome! I just took one look at the track and I knew it was my type of track. It was more than just my track--it was what I needed to convince Eddie [Sharp, car owner] and my Dad that I should run the rest of the '08 season. As for this year, I am even more excited to return to Rockingham after last year's race."

Tom Hessert has two previous Rockingham Speedway starts to his name-one each in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and in the Pro Cup Series. His father made a NASCAR Nationwide Series start at Rockingham in 1993.

"I have a picture in my room of my dad standing in the pits and looking down towards turn one at Rockingham from when he raced there in 1993, and that was really my only recollection of Rockingham until last year, through that picture. I was only seven years old in '93. Growing up racing, my dad was mostly a road racer so I attended those races. Even though he did a few NASCAR Nationwide Series races in the early 1990s, Stock car racing wasn't anything I was really involved with until a couple of years ago. Last year, when ARCA brought racing back to Rockingham, I participated in the ARCA Open test, raced in the ARCA race and raced in the Pro Cup race, finishing ninth and third. Rockingham has a lot of character. It's just a really, really neat place to race."

Eddie Sharp, owner of a four-car ARCA RE/MAX Series operation (drivers Justin Lofton, Craig Goess, Tim George Jr and Steve Arpin), made his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start as a driver at Rockingham in the 1993 Goodwrench 200. Sharp was joined in the race by notable drivers such as Harry Gant, Jack Sprague, Ricky Craven, Andy Hillenburg, Ward Burton, Davey Allison, Terry Labonte, Tracy Leslie and race winner Mark Martin.

"I remember that qualifying rained out and it was freezing cold," said Sharp. "There were icicles hanging from the rigs. It was a big deal for me and a big chance. I wasn't in a competitive car, but just the opportunity to do it was huge. There were drivers on that track that I had always admired and looked up to, for example [Dale] Earnhardt, Sr. It was more than just the chance to race at Rockingham. It put me here; where I am today. I'm still chasing the dream, just a slightly altered dream. Back then, I couldn't afford a good car to drive. Now I have 40 great cars in my shop, but I don't drive them, I own them and get to help other young, talented drivers with opportunities that I didn't have. Rockingham should have never been abandoned. It is a perfect example of the roots of who we are in stock car racing. I am proud to have raced there and I am very happy that racing has returned there."

The ARCA RE/MAX Series has raced at Rockingham on two previous occasions, with Charlie Glotzbach winning the inaugural event in 1973 and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Joey Logano winning in his career first ARCA RE/MAX Series start just one year ago.

The Carolina 200 at Rockingham Speedway will air live on SPEED beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, April 19. Arcaracing.com will feature live timing and scoring all weekend, including ARCA RE/MAX Series practice sessions, Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell and the Carolina 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race. For a complete weekend schedule, visit arcaracing.com.

-credit: arca

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Series ARCA
Drivers Ward Burton , Terry Labonte , Frank Kimmel , Ricky Craven , Jack Sprague , Andy Hillenburg , Tom Hessert , Charlie Glotzbach , Harry Gant , Justin Lofton , Joey Logano , Craig Goess , Mark Martin , Davey Allison