SPEED Press Release
“Sunday’s Inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race Live on SPEED”
All eyes are on Rockingham Speedway as NASCAR makes it’s highly-anticipated return to the venerable North Carolina race track with Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race – live on SPEED at 1pm ET; NCWTS Setup at 12:30pm ET.
The facility, situated in the Sandhills of North Carolina, hosted its last NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event in February 2004 and essentially was mothballed until former racer Andy Hillenburg purchased it in 2007. Under Hillenburg, racing returned to “The Rock,” and in September 2011, NASCAR announced its plan to head back to the one-mile speedway with the Truck Series.
Below, SPEED on-air personalities calling the action on Sunday offer their thoughts on this historic weekend:
Q: How significant is it to the Truck Series for it to be the first NASCAR division to return to Rockingham since 2004?
“Returning NASCAR to ‘The Rock’ is like putting a piece of your family tree back in place. Rockingham Speedway has hosted so many great races that are a part of the very thread that makes up NASCAR, so it has been difficult to call a season complete without the annual trip to the North Carolina landmark. Having the Truck Series be the first race back is fitting, because as tough as this track is, the Trucks and their drivers are equally touch.”-Rick Allen, SPEED play-by-play announcer
“There truly is a great heritage at Rockingham. The drivers are even more excited to get the race started than the media or fans. The surrounding area was hit hard by the loss of Sprint Cup racing, so I think this will be a big boost to the area with the fans traveling in from Raleigh, Charlotte and the Triad.”-Ray Dunlap, SPEED reporter
“Those of us who cover the Truck Series every week know each race is a big deal. But if you’re a fan who normally only watches Cup races, you may not be aware of what a great thing we have in the Truck Series. This weekend, with the promotion ‘The Rock’ is getting, coupled with the fact the Cup Series race will have already run at Texas, new eyes will be watching the Truck Series. We hope those new eyes like what they see, so much so that they become regular viewers and new members of our family.”-Krista Voda, host of NCWTS Setup
“Success this weekend is achieved when the first hauler parks and the first race fan enters the gates. So much work has gone into this race and it’s all for the fans. Whether enjoyed in person from the grandstands or from your favorite seat watching from home, when the Trucks take to the track, it will be a show to remember.”-Rick Allen, SPEED play-by-play announcer
“Success at Rockingham depends on who you ask. If the fans show up and it comes close to selling out, that makes a clear statement the fans are ready, willing and able to support racing at Rockingham. One the other side, if the track provides the kind of racing we were used to seeing there in years past, with lots of speed at the beginning of a run but also a lot of slipping around and tire management, you’ve got a great race. That, too, would be a success, if not a home run.”-Hermie Sadler, NASCAR driver and SPEED reporter
Q: Does the competitive advantage go to the veterans who have raced at Rockingham in either the Cup Series or the Nationwide Series or is there a level playing field after so many years removed from the track?
“Having prior experience at Rockingham and being able to move around to find grip to make passes after the tires are worn out will be crucial, especially late in the runs. All the guys with experience there should have a leg up. The last time we raced there, we weren’t coil-binding and racing with the same shocks and springs as we are now. However, the only thing holding you to the track are the tires and you’ve got to be able to manage tires, so experience will go a long ways toward that. The younger guys with less experience are going to be eager to take off on restarts and go hard early in the race, but I think as the laps tick off, you’ll see the advantage go to veterans like Ron Hornaday and Todd Bodine.”-Hermie Sadler, NASCAR driver and SPEED reporter
“Veterans who have raced there before bring a certain advantage to the table, but I think the bigger advantage goes to the young guys who have raced there most recently. Ty Dillon and Parker Kligerman won the two most recent ARCA races at Rockingham. Bryan Silas won even more recently, in last year’s CARS Pro Cup Series race. Of course, I wouldn’t count out Kasey Kahne. He has won three of four Truck Series races he has entered in his career, and the last time he raced at Rockingham in the Cup Series, he finished second.”-Krista Voda, host of NCWTS Setup
Q: You went to Rockingham for the test a few weeks ago. How did the track look and how has it changed since the Cup cars last raced there?
“The tower is freshly painted, the new Victory Lane is in plain sight of the fans and the garage looks great. Other than the addition of the SAFER barriers, what has not changed much is the track, and I love it. All stock car races should be run on three-quarter mile or one-mile tracks.”-Ray Dunlap, SPEED reporter
Q: How much of a labor of love has returning NASCAR to Rockingham been for Andy Hillenburg?
“When Andy Hillenburg purchased this track it was with the intention of getting NASCAR back on these famed high banks. His determination and hard work has paid off and all the improvements he has made will be immediately appreciated by the fans and competitors that experience this race on Sunday.”-Rick Allen, SPEED play-by-play announcer
“When I first heard Andy Hillenburg had bought this facility, I thought he was crazy. I just hope he is crazy like a fox.”-Ray Dunlap, SPEED reporter
“Andy Hillenburg has such a passion for NASCAR, especially in helping young drivers. He has taken a true grassroots approach to building a following for The Rock over the years. In fact, at Daytona this year, Andy was putting up banners for his #Filltherock campaign. When Andy asked me to pose with one of his banners, I happily obliged – I’m sure you can still find that pic on twitter @kristavoda or @Andy_Rock.”-Krista Voda, host of NCWTS Setup
“Andy took a big risk buying that place, but he didn’t just buy it and let it sit. He has done a lot of work and put a lot of effort and money into restoring it to its glory days. It would be really gratifying to him, most race fans and me if they could turn The Rock around and have it become as successful as it once was.”–Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR on FOX and SPEED analyst