ROCKINGHAM — It wasn’t unexpected, but the announcement still stung Rockingham Speedway president Andy Hillenburg.
NASCAR officials released the Camping World Truck Series schedule Friday and “The Rock” was no where to be found on it.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be on there,” Hillenburg said. “This is what we have been working so hard for. It’s crushing.”
Hillenburg added he wanted the fans to understand the loss of the truck date wasn’t strictly a pure NASCAR decision, but more in the lines of a mutual understanding between the track and the sanctioning body.
“This is not NASCAR’s doing,” Hillenburg said. “NASCAR wants to be here. NASCAR is in our corner. We have to shore up our foundation. We aren’t able to host a NASCAR event. Things have been pushed and pushed and we are now falling over them.
“These are problems which have been developing and they weren’t going to get solved overnight. I’m not satisfied with everything we have done.”
Opened in 1965, Rockingham Speedway had played host to a NASCAR event until 2004. Hillenburg purchased the track at auction in 2007 and reopened it a year later.
In the fall of 2011, NASCAR officials and then Gov. Bev Perdue announced the Camping World Truck Series would make its first appearance at “The Rock” the following spring.
The initial truck race was won by Kasey Kahne, who ironically was edged at the finish line by Matt Kenseth in the final Sprint Cup contest at the track.
Up-and-coming driver Kyle Larson took the checkered flag this spring in what may have been the last NASCAR event in Rockingham. Also in the field was Cup driver Joey Logano, who was victorious in the first race when the track reopened. Logano outlasted a 50-car field in the ARCA Re/Max Carolina 500 in May 2008.
Despite not having the trucks invade “The Rock” next year, Hillenburg is exploring his options to have any racing on the track.
“It’s way too early to say,” he said. “There are a lot of things I need to fix. I hope to do it quickly in order to get on some racing calendars.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer