Cherry Hill, New Jersey’s Tom Hessert would know, having won there back-to-back in 2012 and 2013. And he did it with two different teams – the first time with Ken Schrader Racing, and the second with Cunningham Motorosports. This puts Hessert in a very unique category. In fact, the last driver to put up back-to-back wins at Salem was in 2007 and 2008 when ’08 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion Justin Allgaier did it.
“We’ve been lucky enough to get a couple wins (at Salem),” Hessert said. “We’re taking back the same car we raced with in 2013.”
It probably doesn’t hurt that Hessert has proclaimed the historic, half-mile, high-banked oval as his favorite track on tour.
“Going to Salem is always something that I look forward to; it’s my favorite track on the ARCA tour. Headed there as a two-time winner certainly gives me more confidence going into the weekend. The Cunningham cars have always been great on the high-banked short tracks.”
Hessert also considers Salem as one of the more challenging tracks.
“It’s definitely one of the more challenging tracks. It’s rough and abrasive. It’s slippery, and just hard to get a hold of.
“Salem was actually one of the few tracks I had experience on before I got to ARCA. I ran a midget there and found it to be quite challenging with that too. No matter what car you’re in, it’s hard to be perfect every lap at Salem. No matter how many laps I have there, it’s a huge challenge every time. It’s the only thing that’s really consistent about the place.”
Cunningham Motorsports’ success on the high-banked bullrings is well documented.
Cunningham won at Salem with Dakoda Armstrong driving in 2010 and at Winchester in 2011. Alex Bowman, who has since moved onto the NASCAR Nationwide Series and now the Sprint Cup Series fulltime, won at Salem in the spring of 2012, leading a whopping 146 of 200 laps at Salem, and in the end, held off nine-time Salem winner Frank Kimmel to earn the victory.
That said, the combo of Cunningham and Hessert should prove to be as good as any at Salem, and arguably, better than most.
“With the success both Cunningham and I have had at Salem, this was definitely one of the tracks we circled when the schedule came out as a place we should excel.”
The Federated Auto Parts 200 presented by Crunch’N Nutter, the 95th ARCA race at Salem since 1955, is scheduled to get the green flag Sunday afternoon, April 27 just after 2:00 p.m. local time. Two practice sessions precede Sunday’s race activity on Saturday, April 26 at 12 noon and at 1:15. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell rolls off at 3:30 Saturday. An on-track autograph session accompanies pre-race festivities Sunday from 11:30 – 12:30. Driver introductions follow at 2.