April 23, 2014 — team release — ARCA photo — MOORESVILLE, N.C. — After using their month between the Mobile International Speedway race in March and their next race at Salem Speedway next weekend for two test sessions and lots of car preparation in the shop, Cunningham Motorsports is prepared more than ever for the season to kick into high gear.
Tom Hessert, in the #77 Caregard/Axiom Warranty.com Dodge and Austin Wayne Self, in the #22 AM Dodge tested at the .555-mile Salem Speedway one week ago and just completed a two day test at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Thursday.
The Cunningham organization took to the high-banked short track in Salem, Indiana to shake both cars down, to give Self more experience at the tough track and to hone Hessert’s skills at the track. Hessert has won twice, back to back, at the historic track—in September, 2012 and April, 2013. His two wins are even more impressive with the fact that his victories were with two different teams, Ken Schrader Racing in 2012 and Cunningham Motorsports in 2013. In Self’s only trip to Salem (in September, 2013) he qualified on the outside pole, before finishing 10th.
Shannon McIntosh, who was originally planning to make her debut at the spring Salem race, has changed her scheduled introduction to the ARCA Series, due to sponsorship woes. According to co-owner Kerry Scherer, “Shannon continues to be an important part of our organization and we look forward to her first race with us.”
The teams hit the Salem track on Saturday, April 26, when the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards swings into Indiana for the Federated Auto Parts ARCA 200 presented by Crunch ‘N Nutter. Two 45 minute practice sessions are scheduled beginning at 12:00 and 1:15 pm EST, followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 3:30. On Sunday, fans get a chance to meet their favorite drivers with an on-track autograph session from 11:30-12:30. The 200 lap race is scheduled for a 2:15 start.
The team’s second test session took them to a track that is the polar opposite of Salem Speedway— the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway for the two day ARCA test. In preparation for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 on Saturday, May 3, both teams were among 20 teams testing. Hessert topped the speed charts both days with a speed of 184.551. In Hessert’s previous six ‘Dega starts, his best finish is 4th in 2012, with a pole in qualifying in 2009. This year will mark Self’s debut at the high speed track, after posting the 7th quickest speed during the test.
Both drivers will be visiting children and adults when they tour the nearby Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) in Talladega, Alabama on Thursday, May 1. The fourth annual visit for the Cunningham Motorsports team is a valuable experience for the drivers. On-track activity begins on the superspeedway on Friday with practice from 10:00-12:00 EST, followed at 4:35 by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell. Hessert and Self will conclude their Friday by attending the Race Fever event at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, which is an autograph and auction opportunity, with all proceeds benefitting AIDB. The 76 lap race on Saturday will start at 11:00, with live coverage on Fox Sports 1.
Summing up the two tests heading into the next two weeks, Scherer commented, “When you compare Salem to Talladega, they are at opposite ends of the racing spectrum, but they share one common trait—every year something is different. That’s why we test…to learn what those differences do to the car. We are going into both races confident that the team and the drivers are fully capable of winning.”