ROCKINGHAM — After an eight-year absence, NASCAR returned to Rockingham Speedway in April with the Camping World Truck Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200 presented by Cheerwine.
It won’t take that long for the thunder to be heard in Richmond County once again.
Rockingham Speedway President Andy Hillenburg announced Wednesday afternoon the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series would be back at “The Rock” next year from April 12 to 14.
“Fans, drivers, teams; everyone embraced our 2012 event,” Hillenburg said. “I’m happy to announce that with their help, we’ll do it again in 2013 — bigger and better than ever before.”
Tickets for the upcoming truck race are now on sale, adult tickets are $20 to $35 with children 12 and under half-price. Ticket renewals will be available until Nov. 20. For information, contact the Rockingham Speedway ticket office at 910-205-8800 or visit www.rockinghamspeedway.com.
Once again, the trucks are slated to hit the track on a Sunday afternoon, while the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide drivers will battle it out on Friday and Saturday night. Hillenburg hopes this schedule allows more Sprint Cup drivers to make the trek to Rockingham to pilot one of the trucks.
“We had two drivers make it, David Reutimann and of course Kasey Kahne,” Hillenburg said. “I think having those two guys make the trip from Texas gave the race and the track a stamp of approval. Kasey only got three or four hours of sleep.”
Kahne visited Victory Lane for the first time at the track in April after being edged by Matt Kenseth by .01 seconds in the last Sprint Cup race at “The Rock” in 2004.
During April’s truck race, several Sprint Cup drivers were watching the Speed TV broadcast and Denny Hamlin tweeted, “I’m gonna run the Rock next year in a truck if I have to build one myself.” Hillenburg plans on using comments like that to try and pull additional Sprint Cup drivers into the field.
Hillenburg plans on staging another full weekend of racing. In April, the UARA and the Frank Kimmel Series had 75-lap races on Saturday afternoon following the truck series’ qualifying runs. In addition to the racing, Hillenburg hopes to see events away from the track like the hauler parade and Thunderfest.
“We will be releasing more things over the next six weeks or so detailing more of the weekend,” Hillenburg said. “We have had discussions with Kim (Williams) about Thunderfest. We may even have a surprise.”
After drawing a crowd of around 27,500 in April, Hillenburg continues to eye improvements to make the race weekend not only a great experience for the drivers but the fans as well.
“I want to make things so much better because the community deserves to have the most iconic racetrack in the world,” Hillenburg said. “It will be five years on Nov. 1 when we moved into the offices. We are continuously upgrading the facility and the amenities. There were a few times along the way where I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. But when I looked up in the grandstands during driver introductions in April, it made me extremely proud.
“That was a very important day in the history of Rockingham Speedway, but it was just one step on the road. We’re moving forward and I look forward to packing the grandstands again next April. ‘The Rock’ is back and we’re looking forward to another great race on April 14, 2013.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.