I really became aware of Chad Hackenbracht towards the end of last year and into this one thanks to a friend who works with him. As the 2011 ARCA Racing series drew closer to its start, I kept up with Chad and anticipated how he would do at Daytona. Unfortunately that race took a turn for the worse just after halfway when his car flipped over and hit the wall before landing back on four tires. Fast forward through the next seven races and Chad Hackenbracht is now ARCA?s newest rising star. He is getting ever closer to that elusive first win and has earned a new best finish in four of the last five events. In the last four races, he has added three top tens and one dominating run/almost win at Chicago to his resume. He also appears fairly regularly on Racetalkradio.com?s Thunder Crew show. But who is this 19 year old driver, where did he come from and how in the world do you pronounce his name?
Well, it really is a lot easier to say his name then it looks. In Michigan the Speed broadcast of the ARCA race showed a new shirt that addressed that very issue. It simply proclaims it as ?hock-en-bra?. As for how he got to where he is now, Chad says (in a video for ARCAnation.com), ?I started racing in quarter midgets when I was 13 and raced those for three years and moved up to the Legends car series for 2 years. I had a good successful run there and then went on to the ARCA racing series.? He won his first race in that opening year of midget racing and found the switch to Legends cars to suit him just fine as he won eighteen races and the championship in 2008. He switched gears again in 2009 when he participated in ARCA?s open tests in preparation for a part time schedule in 2010. This year, despite a slow start, the New Philadelphia, OH, native is coming into his own in stock cars. ?I think the ARCA series is a really good step going forward, and [the cars] are very similar to the Nationwide cars, and we?re running some of the same speeds that those guys are at these tracks, so I think it?s a good leverage going into those series.? At the rate Chad is improving, it won?t be long before the NASCAR owners will take a serious look at the young, dark-haired driver.
Chad is moving towards adding his name to the list of NASCAR stars who built a good name for themselves in ARCA that includes Justin Allgaier, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Parker Kligerman and Justin Lofton. Each of those drivers, whether they run Nationwide or Camping World Trucks, have good possibilities of becoming Cup series drivers in the not too distant future. Patrick Sheltra, last year?s ARCA champion, shared his opinion of why the level of competition is rising in ARCA, ?There are a lot of people getting picked up out of ARCA now and going into the Nationwide series, so that?s why people are probably getting back into the ARCA series now because they?re seeing where more people are coming from and where the NASCAR guys are pulling them from.?
The most obvious example of owners investing in ARCA is Richard Childress Racing and Ty Dillon, who has now won in over half of his starts with four other top ten finishes to go along with them. That makes it all the more impressive that Chad Hackenbracht and his family-owned team are able to keep up with them. Chicago showed how strong Chad can be as no one could catch him before a cut tire took the certain win away from him in heartbreaking fashion fifteen laps from the end. He was in contention to win at Michigan, but had to settle for fourth as differing strategies directed the end of the eighth race of the season. This weekend Chad and the rest of the ARCA teams head to Winchester Speedway. Keep an eye on this young driver to be up front and maybe even claim his first win on Saturday!
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