SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – August 23, 2015 – Cunningham Motorsports had two top finishes at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Sunday. Kyle Weatherman wrestled his Crosley Brand/Cunningham Motorsports No. 22 to a runner-up finish…his third of the season, while teammate Tom Hessert, in his Barbera’s Autoland No. 77 earned a fifth place finish.
The weather took control over the one-mile dirt track early, as fog encompassed the oval as the teams arrived before dawn. The fog lifted as practice approached, leaving an on-going mist through the first 25 minutes of the one hour session. The moisture steadily picked up before practice was red flagged, cancelling the final 35 minutes of practice and qualifying. The starting line-up was set based on car owner points with Weatherman starting 3rd and Hessert starting 6th.
Weatherman took the green flag from third; quickly taking over the point by lap 8. Crew Chief Paul Andrews called his young driver to pit road during caution on lap 26, for four fresh Hoosiers, Sunoco fuel and a track bar adjustment. As some of the cars elected not to pit this early in the 100 lap race, Weatherman lined up for the restart in 8th. He quickly gained four spots. Under the caution on lap 42, the Roush Fenway driver development driver came back down pit road for a track bar adjustment.
After restarting 12th, just shy of the halfway point, Weatherman picked off one car after another…grabbing third as the final caution flew on lap 98. As the green flew for the green, white, checkered finish, Weatherman picked up the second spot. After the race, the SCOTT Rookie of the race commented, “I am really proud of the team. They worked hard all day. Today we made up a lot of ground in the owner’s championship. And we completed our challenge to win the Bill France Four Crown award. Only a win would have made our day better!”
In the process Weatherman added points to his Calypso Short Track Challenge lead, retook the lead in the car owner points category for Cunningham Motorsports co-owner, Kerry Scherer and most importantly completed the win for the Cunningham organization of the Bill France Four Crown. Weatherman was the driver in three of the four races making up the Four Crown award…..including the short track of Winchester Speedway (4th), the New Jersey Motorsports Park road course (1st), and the Springfield dirt (2nd). Blake Jones started the Cunningham Motorsports campaign for the prestigious award, earning his first ARCA Series career victory at Talladega Superspeedway.
Tom Hessert started from the 6th spot before steadily moving forward…making it to second by lap 17. When Crew Chief Chad Bryant chose a pit strategy different from the other leaders, Hessert took over the point after staying out during the caution on lap 26. Hessert led through the next caution on lap 42, when he came to the attention of his pit crew for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. After restarting 13th, Hessert began to make his move back toward the front. As the race went into overtime, Hessert was in fifth. When the checkered flag flew, Hessert had his sixth top-5 finish of the season…fifth place.
The next race for the Cunningham teams is Monday, September 7 at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. Practice for the Southern Illinois 100 is scheduled for 9:00-10:00 am CST, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 11:15. The 100 lap race will take the green flag at 1:30.