ARCA driver Tom Hessert announced that he would be running the full 2011 ARCA Racing Series schedule with Ken Schrader Racing after finishing third in points in 2010.
Hessert, who drove the No. 77 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge to one win, 10 top-fives, and 15 top-10 finishes in 2010, informed Cunningham Motorsports owner Kerry Scherer last week that he will drive in 2011 for Ken Schrader Racing.
Hessert had a solid year as he was in the thick of one of the tightest points battles in recent years with Patrick Sheltra and Craig Goess.
“It was an awesome year,” Hessert told the ARCA Racing Network last month.
“Obviously, I’ll say that this was the best season in my career to this point. I’m a little disappointed to not win after we came from such a difference after the first eight races—220 points down—to lead the championship for a couple of hours (laughing), at least, after Salem. We got our first win and had a bunch of top-10s and top-fives, so I’m pretty pleased.”
The first win is a moment that many refer to as the highlight of the year, as he held off Ty Dillon to win the Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway.
“It’s incredible,” he told me of that first win. “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.”
Hessert got into racing through his father.
“My dad raced in sports car for a long time in the late 80s/90s and I grew up going to the races,” he told me. “I went to my first race when I was two weeks old and fell in love with it then.”
His father, among others, has now given him the advice needed to get to where he is.
“My dad’s been a mentor of mine all throughout my career, as he’s obviously a race car driver,” he said. “In our series, it’s Frank Kimmel, which everyone has been saying. Kenny Schrader’s also been a great friend, a great mentor the last year-and-a-half, and there’s Andy Hillenburg.”
Hessert found himself with Cunningham Motorsports this season after a discussion near the end of last year.
“Last year, I drove the first half of the season for Andy Belmont Racing and then the second half of the year for RAB,” he said. “Then near the end of the year, one of the guys from 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.”
Hessert had some experience running some Camping World Truck Series races near the end of the year of 2010 and has expressed interest in moving into the NASCAR ranks. Therefore this move to Ken Schrader Racing puts him in position to do with that with Schrader’s program and connections.
Cunningham Motorsports may be in trouble as Dakoda Armstrong, Hessert’s teammate in 2010, has not yet informed Cunningham Motorsports of his plans for 2011, according to a team press release.
Cunningham Motorsports is actively looking for sponsored drivers for 2011, and continues to prepare for the January 11-13 ARCA Racing Series open test at Daytona International Speedway.