Last Saturday night, Tom Hessert started second, led the most laps and beat Ty Dillion back to the line to win the Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway. In doing so, he got his first ever ARCA Re/Max Series win.
It was a mirror-view to last year as last year it was Cunningham Motorsports driver Parker Kligerman edging Austin Dillion to the line.
This was the second win of the year for Cunningham Motorsports as earlier this year at Talladega, Hessert’s teammate Dakoda Armstrong got his first ever ARCA win.
During his busy post-win week, Hessert took some time to answer some questions for Bleacher Report readers.
Ashley McCubbin: First of all, congratulations on the win.
Tom Hessert: Thank you very much. It was a really good night.
AM: What does it mean to you to get your first ARCA win?
TH: It’s incredible. It’s my first win in a quite awhile and to win it in that fashion and leading all those laps at Iowa Speedway in front of a great crowd and with the Camping World Truck Series teams being on hand and all those people in the garage area and on Speed, it couldn’t have been a better day.
AM: How’d you get started in racing?
TH: My dad raced in sports car for a long time in the late 80s/90s and I grew up going to the races. I went to my first race when I was two weeks old and fell in love with it then.
AM: How’d the deal come together with you and Cunningham Motorsports?
TH: Last year, I drove the first half of the season for Andy Belmont Racing and then the second half of the team for team RAB and then near the end of the year, one of the Cunningham Motorsports called me and I went down to Georgia and met with him and it was a very attractive offer. They ran really well last year and their affiliation with some of the big teams in NASCAR was very appealing and so far, so good. I couldn’t be happier.
AM: How would you rate this year so far?
TH: So far it’s been great to get our first win and four top fives, which is by far more top fives then I’ve had in one season in my career being nine races in. But with that said, we’ve also had some races where we’ve shot ourselves in the foot as a team, which is why we’re fifth in points and not leading or in the top two. So you’ve always going to have bad runs during the year and with only 11 races and 140 points to make up to win this championship, we have to be pretty solid from here on out.
AM: What is your goal for this year?
TH: My goal for this year, we got our first win out of the way, so it’s to keep winning. I want to win as many races as I can before the end of the year. We’ve got the speed everywhere we go to finish in the top five; we just need to capitalize that and as long as we do that, we should be in good position as we end 2010 and the last quarter of the season.
AM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
TH: Well, I hope and wish and dream that I’ll be in NASCAR, whether in a truck or Nationwide car or my goal obviously in a Cup car. I know that’s a long way but nights like Saturday night go a long way in shortening that distance.
AM: Who’s your racing idol?
TH: My dad. My dad was a big influence in my career and my life in general. He was a good racecar driver and I learned a lot from him. Guys like Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough and all those stock car drivers. I grew up around road racing so a lot of Formula 1 drivers like Michael Schmacher.
AM: What is your advice to up-and-coming drivers?
TH: Learn. Learn every time you get on the race track. I know it’s cliché but don’t make the same mistake twice. You got to learn in this sport and you got take your knocks and keep plugging at it and put your head down and stay focused and do what you need to do, set up for the races and do what you got to do.
AM: What are some of your hobbies away from the track?
TH: A lot all sports. I play a lot of sports in my spare time, like play basketball or football, tennis, anything. I like to work out and watch movies. I’m like a regular guy and I like to hang out with my friends. That’s my favorite thing to do when I’m away from the track.