Chad Hackenbracht Wins First ARCA Menards Pole Award
Success can come when one least expects it, and that was the case for Chad Hackenbracht in Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell today at New Jersey Motorsports Park's Thunderbolt Raceway.
Hackenbracht (No. 58 CGH Motorsports Chevrolet), of New Philadelphia, Ohio, drove a best lap of one minute, 21.8 seconds (99.017 mph) to earn the Menards Pole Award for tomorrow's 150-mile race on the 2.25-mile road course. The pole is his first in 38 ARCA Racing Series starts.
"(Crew chief) Kevin (Reed, pictured with Hackenbracht) keeps telling me about the win and how it'll happen when we least expect it, but the pole award came when we least expected it," said Hackenbracht, who will search for his first career victory. "I've been looking forward to coming here. I love doing road course racing. I did the Skip Barber school two or three years ago and I've always had a thing for road courses."
After finishing third in practice earlier in the afternoon - the results of which divided the field into six groups for qualifying - Hackenbracht, like many, likely expected practice leaders Tom Hessert (left, bottom) or Andrew Ranger (right, bottom) to earn the first starting spot.
Roxon Pond, Quebec's Ranger had led the first practice session, picking up where he left off in leading each session, winning the pole, and winning the race last year at New Jersey. Hessert, of Cherry Hill, N.J., led the second practice with an even faster speed, and looked ready to claim the top spot in his home state.
Instead, Hackenbracht (No. 58 CGH Motorsports Chevrolet) drove the best lap in the first qualifying group of six cars, establishing himself as the fastest entrant on his first lap. Ranger came close, finishing 0.09 second behind Hackenbracht on his first attempt over 10 allotted minutes.
Hessert's chance passed before he truly got going; he reported that his car unexpectedly shut down on his first lap. He recovered and drove his best lap in 1:22.16. He will start inside Kevin Swindell in the second row.
Hackenbracht started 19th and finished ninth last year at New Jersey, his only previous road course start in the ARCA Racing Series. He said that because of prior uncertainty surrounding his team's future, he and his team did not prepare as extensively as they could have.
"Honestly, I haven't done anything differently (from 2011)," he said. "We brought the car exactly how we left it last year so we haven't really changed much. We weren't sure if we were coming here, so we didn't prepare too well, but obviously, we got it good enough."
Alex Bowman qualified fifth, ahead of Brandon Davis and Chris Buescher. Nelson Canache will start eighth over Robert Mitten and Chase Elliott. Points leader Brennan Poole will start 11th, and nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel will roll off 15th.
The 67-lap, 150-mile feature race of the All-American Race Weekend presented by Global Barter Corporation will begin at 1 p.m. tomorrow, with live audio coverage presented by the ARCA Racing Network available at ARCARacing.com. Charlie Krall and Tim Clagg will call the action from high atop New Jersey Motorsports Park and Thunderbolt Raceway.
ARCARacing.com will also feature live timing and scoring coverage of the race, free to all visitors. The race is scheduled as the 10th of 20 this season, and the second of two Bill France Four Crown races.
2012 is the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards' 60th Anniversary Season, featuring 20 races at 18 tracks. The complete 2012 event schedule is available at ARCARacing.com.