TOLEDO, Ohio – official release – ARCA photo — You can always tell when it’s Menards 200 week…with the steady stream of curious visitors that sift in and out of the ARCA home office for a tour.
The latest onlookers are members of the Cunningham Motorsports team to include team drivers Tom Hessert and Austin Wayne Self, who substituted a rain delay in testing Monday for a guided tour from ARCA President Ron Drager. For those curious enough to stop by, Drager typically gives the tour, which he did on this occasion.
“It’s cool to see where ARCA operates from,” Hessert said. “Humble, nothing over the top, but really nice. The history you see in the photos on the walls really gives you a good idea of the history of this company, and for how long it’s been around. Everyone should stop by ARCA’s home office to check the place out; it’s well worth it, and gives you different perspective.”
Hessert has had one whale of a start to his 2014 season, coming off the big win at Talladega Superspeedway in early May. Already fourth in points, he hopes to keep it going at Toledo Speedway in Sunday’s (May 18) Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care.
“Happy to be here…just hope it clears up enough to get a little testing in. We don’t really have a contingency plan for this test, so plan A is plan B. It’s good to be back; we’ll see how it goes. We’ve had some top-fives here…have led laps. We’ll see if we can get a win now.”
Getting a win at Toledo for Hessert would not be a stretch. The renowned half-mile oval on Benore Road has been one of Hessert’s best tracks over the years.
In 10 Toledo starts since 2008, Hessert has led 252 laps and earned five top-five finishes, including a pair of third place finishes in 2009 and 2010. Overall, he’s only finished out of the top-10 twice at Toledo and earned the Menards Pole presented by Ansell in 2012.
Hessert’s Cunningham Motorsports teammate Self made his ARCA debut at Toledo last year with very effective results.
“We came here last year and had a sixth place finish, and that was our first race ever in an ARCA car, so we had a good run,” Self said.
“Hopefully I can qualify (he qualified 10th last year) a little better. I struggled a little last year qualifying. Maybe we can qualify in the top-five this year, and stay there all day.”
Self, who finished a career-best second to Frank Kimmel last year at Winchester, is coming off a respectable third place finish at Talladega…his superspeedway debut.
“I didn’t really know what to expect (at Talladega), but we finished the race, finished third and Tom got the victory. We were all really happy. I was just really happy to be there and get to race at Talladega, and to be able to come home with a top-three was big.”
The showers that briefly covered Toledo Speedway Monday morning eventually cleared off by late morning, and both Hessert and Self were able to get out on track and make laps. Cunningham Motorsports, led by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion crew chief Paul Andrews, was joined at Monday’s test by Roulo Brothers Racing, which also tested Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Benjamin tested Sunday and Monday for the Roulo Brothers, while Kyle Weatherman joined the team for testing Monday afternoon. Benjamin won the pole in last year’s Menards 200, becoming the youngest polesitter in ARCA history.
“The track’s in really good shape,” Benjamin said. “It really hasn’t changed much…same Toledo. We did a bunch of five lap runs yesterday, so I hope to be able to get in some longer runs today.”
Tickets are on sale now for the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway. Tickets are $15, compared to $25 on race day, and are now available at Menards stores in Toledo, Defiance, Holland, Oregon, Sandusky and Findlay.
The weekend’s activities include two ARCA Racing Series practice sessions Saturday, May 17 from 11:45-12:30 and 1-1:45, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 3:30. An ARCA-sanctioned Sportsman feature race will follow qualifying Saturday afternoon. The Menards 200 is Sunday at 2, with an autograph session from noon to 1. Pre-race and driver introductions follow the autograph session.
The Menards 200 is live on FOX Sports 1.