The 2010 ARCA season will be remembered for including one of the best championship battles the series has seen in a long time, involving three contenders. In the end, Tom Hessert finished third of the three, 85 points behind Craig Goess, who finished second.
"It was an awesome year," Hessert told the ARCA Racing Network. "Obviously, I'll say that this was the best season in my career to this point. I'm a little disappointed to not win after we came from such a difference after the first eight races - 220 points down - to lead the championship for a couple of hours (laughing), at least, after Salem. We got our first win and had a bunch of top-10s and top-fives, so I'm pretty pleased."
The first win is a moment that many refer to as the highlight of the year as he held off Ty Dillon to win the Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway.
"It’s incredible," he told me of that first win experience. "It’s my first win in a quite awhile and to win it in that fashion and leading all those laps at Iowa Speedway in front of a great crowd and with the Camping World Truck Series teams being on hand and all those people in the garage area and on Speed, it couldn’t have been a better day."
Hessert got into racing through his father.
"My dad raced in sports car for a long time in the late 80s/90s and I grew up going to the races," he told me. "I went to my first race when I was two weeks old and fell in love with it then."
His father, among others, has now given him the advice needed to get to where he is.
"My dad's been a mentor of mine all throughout my career, as he's obviously a race car driver," he said. "In our series, it's Frank Kimmel, which everyone has been saying. Kenny Schrader's also been a great friend, a great mentor the last year-and-a-half, and there's Andy Hillenburg."
Hessert found himself with Cunningham Motorsports this season after a discussion near the end of the last year.
"Last year, I drove the first half of the season for Andy Belmont Racing and then the second half of the team for team RAB," he said. "Then near the end of the year, one of the Cunningham Motorsports called me and I went down to Georgia and met with him and it was a very attractive offer. They ran really well last year and their affiliation with some of the big teams in NASCAR was very appealing and so far, so good. I couldn’t be happier."
A lot of people have always said that the ARCA Series includes the biggest talent pool of young talent and Hessert seconds that thought.
"There's a bunch of guys," he said. "It's super-competitive. I'm really curious to see, and hopefully we'll be a part of the series next year and we'll be a team to watch for, but obviously, you're going to have Ty (Dillon) or Chris Buescher coming in, and I think there are a couple other people coming up that really aren't too public right now to be some heavy hitters filling the holes that people will leave."
Since the conclusion of the ARCA season, Hessert had a chance to run a Camping World Truck Series race in November.
"Truck racing was alright!" He said. "It certainly could have been better, but it was good experience. I was glad to be a part of that event."
He also adds that he is working on some plans for 2011.
"My ultimate goal is to put myself in a situation to win races, whether that's here or in a different place," he said. "All I want to do is go out and be able to be competitive."