This will be the second season in a row the Sunoco National Tour will hit the high banks of Rockingham: They tour participated in the Cherry Bomb 100 last year on Independence Day. Brandon Johnson of Longwood, Florida found Victory Lane last year in his Suncoast Motorsports entry.
This year however, a new winner will celebrate in Victory Lane in either a Chevrolet Camaro or Ford Mustang.
The new pony cars that participate in the Sunoco National Tour have spiked fan interest and even caught the attention of Andy Hillenburg, the owner of Rockingham Speedway.
“I think the new Mustang and Camaro bodies are probably one of the neatest things the Sunoco National Tour has going right now,” Hillenburg said. “I really like the cars. I like the direction they are going in and I think you can expect some big things out of the Sunoco National Tour because of that.”
Hillenburg, who himself is a former racer, admits that there is a great deal of experience learned from racing at Rockingham, especially for drivers looking to further their careers. “Running at a place like Rockingham helps drivers develop the high speed skills that they need to keep moving up into the Camping World Truck Series, ARCA, the Nationwide Series and quite possibly the Cup Series,” Hillenburg added.
One driver who was in the race last year at “The Rock” is Galliano, Louisiana’s Hal Martin. Martin has made three starts in the ARCA Series this season with a best finish of 10th at Talladega in April. “Rockingham has so many varying characteristics, from the abrasive surface to the way you have to drive both ends of the racetrack completely different,” Martin said.
He was the outside pole sitter last year driving a Lorz Motorsports entry. “As a driver, you need to search for the right line for your race car with your driving style, and change it every lap to adapt to the tires going away. It truly prepares you as an all around racer which is necessary to move up through the ranks of the racing ladder into the ARCA Series, then into NASCAR.”
Eight out of the 22 drivers in last year’s Sunoco National Tour race have competed in ARCA, Camping World Trucks, or the Nationwide Series so far in 2010, adding to Hillenburg’s philosophy of drivers developing high speed skills by racing at Rockingham.
“This is going to be an exciting couple of days here at Rockingham for sure,” Hillenburg said. “Friday, we will have the Sunoco National Tour race. They were with us last July and we wanted to have them back. They put on a whale of a race and there are a lot of good drivers in that series. I think it will be a great 100 lap event.”
For tickets to catch the Sunoco National Tour Series in action at Rockingham Speedway, visit www.rockinghamracewaypark.com. For more information about the Sunoco National Tour Series, visit www.sunoconationaltour.com.