The NASCAR Nationwide Series is a place for young NASCAR drivers to make a name for themselves. It’s the perfect series for drivers to gain experience as well as race against some of the best in all of motorsports.
Tristar Motorsports, a small team in NASCAR’s second tier division, has four full-time teams, two of which have drivers contracted to run the entire schedule. However, two of the other cars are up for grabs due to sponsor limitations. Though they aren’t the only team that has to suffer due to the economic struggles of companies across the country. The team’s No. 44 car has been driven by rookie-of-the-year contender Hal Martin until this weekend at Dover. Martin will be replaced by Cole Whitt this weekend due to his lack of sponsorship for this weekend and several others.
Martin hasn’t ever finished on the lead lap in the NASCAR Nationwide Series over the course of 13 starts since last season. Now that he doesn’t have sponsorship, it opens up the door for some young drivers that need to prove they can race and do so competitively.
Chad Hackenbracht, who’s raced in the ARCA Series for his own family-based team since 2010, will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in the No. 44 car at Iowa on June 7. He’ll become the third driver this year to drive the car. In his three years in the ARCA Series, Hackenbracht was rather successful considering he never had top-notch equipment. Throughout most of his races, Hackenbracht was unsponsored which enables him to understand the struggle that the team is going through. As his debut race quickly approaches, Rant Sports had the opportunity to have a discussion with Hackenbracht. In this exclusive interview, Hackenbracht discusses how the deal with Tristar Motorsports came together, how he’s preparing for his debut, his time in the ARCA Series and more.
Q: You’re going to make your NASCAR Nationwide Series debut with Tristar Motorsports on June 7. How prepared are you for that day?
A: I’ve race at Iowa at least three or four times in the ARCA Series. We went to test at Nashville for it to sort of feel it out in the Nationwide Series car. I’ll be looking at some past races and the in-car camera to prepare as well as I can.
Q: You have seven races scheduled for this year, which means you’ll be eligible for the rookie of the year award next year. Do you plan on running the full season next year?
A: If we can get some funding I believe so. We’re trying to get the best opportunity, which is why we’re running the NASCAR races this year and keeping the rookie eligibility.
Q: How did your deal come about with Tristar Motorsports?
A: We had heard there were some openings and we went to talk with Mark Smith. It was the best opportunity out there.
Q: Last year, you had a breakout year in the ARCA Series. I happened to be at the track when you won your first career race at Pocono. How much of a relief was it for you to finally get that win in the record books?
A: It was a huge relief. We had been knocking on the door all year and even once or twice the year before. It was a huge breakthrough.
Q: What made the win special considering you had a family based team?
A: Honestly, it wasn’t so much special, it was more ironic. It was the first and only race my parents have not been to and I ended up winning it. It was a little odd, but bittersweet at the same time.
Q: What’s your favorite memory from the ARCA Series over the past three seasons?
A: Just everything about it was really memorable. I loved racing at Salem, but I just couldn’t seem to get a break at that track.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.