Casper Not So Friendly For Chad Hackenbracht
DAYTONA BEACH, February 15, 2011: CGH Motorsports with driver Chad Hackenbracht brought a Chevrolet Impala SS nicknamed “Casper” to Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway this past week for the opening race for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
In the childhood story, “Casper” is known as the friendliest ghost that you ever did see. Unfortunately when the checkered was thrown in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, friendly wasn’t the word of choice for the CGH Motorsports team.
Unhappy with their performance in the three-day open test at Daytona last month, the Concord, North Carolina-based team went back to their shop, completely stripped and rebuilt their Chevrolet bowtie, all with the intention of allowing Hackenbracht, ARCA’s newest rising star to make a name for himself at the “World Center of Racing.”
When practice began on Thursday afternoon, the team was baffled with the performance of their No. 58 Tastee Apple Chevrolet Impala SS. While the New Philadelphia, Ohio native reported that his car seemed to have plenty of horsepower, the car could not produce the speed that the freshman ARCA team was looking for.
Help from other friends and colleagues in the ARCA garage discovered several potential solutions to the team’s hiccups. After an array of changes on Friday morning before qualifying, the CGH Motorsports headed into qualifying optimistic.
While the changes helped the overall performance of the car, the team would become challenged once again as it was determined post-qualifying that a spark-plug issue had significantly thwarted the team’s prior obstacles but thus created a new one.
Correcting the motor issue prior to Saturday morning’s happy hour session, the CGH Motorsports team participated in the final practice with the objective to get their 19-year old driver comfortable with his reconfigured race car. A productive session had the family-owned team focused on the race.
The green flag was displayed for the first time in 2011 with Hackenbracht quietly making his move towards the front. Keeping his No. 58 Tastee Apple Chevrolet Impala SS tucked in his drafting pack.
Hackenbracht would continue his steady climb up the running order and positioned himself comfortably inside the top-30. When a caution ensued approaching lap 20, the CGH Motorsports team opted to keep the rising star out on the race track, thus placing the No. 58 Chevrolet into the top-10.
On the restart, Hackenbracht wasn’t able to fend off his competitors but did maintain a comfortable position in the lead draft.
Slipping back to the middle of the pack, Hackenbracht’s day took an ugly turn on lap 44 of the 80-lap contest. While racing behind the No. 30 of Terry Jones, smoke began to billow out from Jones’s automobile forcing the No. 58 to the outside line. Unbeknownst to the driver, oil was spewed onto the track and onto the tires of the Greg Hackenbracht-owned machine which threw the car into a vicious spin and hard into the outside wall. How hard was the hit? The impact with the safer barrier wall was strong enough to lift the automobile off the ground and virtually turned it over before slamming back to the ground with heavy damage.
Hackenbracht waited until ARCA safety officials arrive at the scene of the accident where he pulled the window net down and climbed from his battered machine but not before waiving to the fans while making the mandatory trip to the infield care center. He would be later released with no injuries.
“That was wild,” said Hackenbracht, who is planning to run the full ARCA Racing Series schedule in 2011. “We had our struggles with our Casper this week, but we made considerable improvements and actually had a good car for the race. I’m not sure what happened with the 30. It looked like he lost a motor and I went around him on the outside and the next thing I knew I was hard into the wall.”
He continued, “I am thankful to all my guys on the CGH Motorsports team for building me a safe race car. That was probably one of my hardest hits in my racing career and it stinks that Casper is junk, but I’m able to walk away from it okay and we’ll be back after it at Talladega.”
Ron Hornaday, a four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) champion served as a driver mentor and coach for the former Legend Car Series (LCS) pilot.
Axel Fuel, the Official Energy Drink of CGH Motorsports, JRI Shocks, Metal Parts Manufacturing, Performance Vehicle Works, Portable Shades, R2C Performance and Xflex Racers Tape join Tastee Apple as marketing partners for the first of 19 races this season.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will take nearly an eight week pause before action resumes at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Friday, April 15th, 2011 live on SPEED.
For more information on Chad Hackenbracht and CGH Motorsports, please visit ChadHackenbracht.com and CGHMotorsports.com.