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Hillenburg happy with turnout at Rockingham

April 15, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com



Hillenburg happy with turnout at Rockingham

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- With grandstands filled to near-capacity, Rockingham Speedway president Andy Hillenburg took some friendly advice, taking a moment to savor the scene as a fan in the early laps of Sunday's race.

After the track welcomed NASCAR competition back after an eight-year leave, Hillenburg -- who purchased the facility at auction in 2007 -- was beaming after a successful weekend.

" I also feel confident in saying that if I get a second chance from NASCAR, I can do even better."

--ANDY HILLENBURG

"I'm very proud of our effort, the team effort," Hillenburg said. "I feel like we did the best we could do based on the knowledge that we had, but now I also feel confident in saying that if I get a second chance from NASCAR, I can do even better."

Drivers also were impressed by the surroundings.

"That was definitely very, very cool and the fans -- that's what was so awesome was to look up and see how full the grandstands were," said Matt Crafton, who finished third. "How the whole community and the whole place --it was awesome to see all the fans. I guarantee you that if you ask any of the race fans that watched that [Sprint Cup] race [Saturday] night and watched this race [Sunday] -- this is the way racing ought to be. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun driving a race truck. That was just a blast."

Parker Kligerman, a former ARCA winner at Rockingham, finished ninth.

"I wish we raced here two or three times a year," he said. "That's one of the most fun races I've had in a long time -- slipping and sliding and using every groove possible, saving your tires, being 10 seconds back from a guy 20 laps into a run and at the end of 60 laps you're 5 seconds ahead of him. That's awesome. That's what every race should be like."

Rick Allen, who called the race for SPEED, was equally impressed.

"The entire weekend was a smashing success," Allen said. "When I arrived in Rockingham on Thursday, fans already were camping out and enjoying the race atmosphere. The renovations and work that Andy Hillenburg and his crew did made for a spectacular racing environment from the beginning of the weekend to the checkered flag and even beyond. Andy built a new Victory Lane that's visible to the fans in the grandstands, and they were able to enjoy Kasey Kahne's celebration, which really was a celebration not only for him but for the track and the sport as a whole."

SPEED analyst Phil Parsons concurred: "Rockingham definitely deserves another race -- period. ... We had a terrific crowd at Rockingham [Sunday]. Thousands of people came out to support the race -- everyone from the local fans to those who work in the industry. I saw a slew of people that flew back from the Cup race at Texas on very little sleep to come to Rockingham. They just wanted to be a part of it."

NASCAR.COM contributed to this report.