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 BY JEFF FALK

 LONG POND – When you’re driven, success can be a huge motivating factor. But so can failure.

 Shoot, when you’re driven, everything can serve as a source of motivation.

 On  a warm Friday evening on Pocono Raceway’s 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle, Lebanon stock-car racer Bobby Gerhart finished 12th in the ARCA racing series’ running of the Forts USA 150. It was mostly an uneven performance from Gerhart, but still one that he and his racing team were able to extract plenty of positives from.

 Young Christian Eckes captured the checkered flag from the 60-lap race, besting runner-up Todd Gilliland by more than 13 seconds. Michael Self came in third, Corey Heim ran fourth and Raphael Lessard finished fifth.

 For Gerhart, it was the 61st Pocono start of his illustrious career and proved to be much better than his last – a disappointing 16th in late May that lasted only 19 laps.

 “It’s close to home,” said Bobby Gerhart, of his motivation for running at a track where he hasn’t had a lot of success over the years. “It’s like anything else, it’s just what you do. You always try to come back and be better. With these new cars, we lost a step, but we got some of it back today.

 “We got a little better,” continued Gerhart. “The way we are right now, we’re faster than we were five or six years ago. But it took the whole day to get there.”

 “We’re just like our father (Bobby Gerhart, Sr.), we’re racers,” said Bobby’s crew chief and brother, Billy Gerhart. “You stick with it in tough times. Anybody can walk away. I guess we’re not done yet. We’re already making plans to run at Daytona in February. We’ll run some races next year, we just don’t know how many.

 “We were so bad here last month,” Gerhart continued. “We brought a new car and it ran better. At the end of the race, we were two seconds faster than we were last month. We need another second. But I was pleased with the car, pleased with the progress we made. These guys we run with, run every week.”

 Gerhart qualified 11th, but was pushed to the back of the field by a pre-race mechanical adjustment. He worked his way to 13th by Lap Ten, but at that point found himself a lap down to the leaders.

 “You’ve just got to keep your focus and run your race,” said Bobby Gerhart. “You can’t give up on yourself. You’ve just got to run your hardest, and we progressively got faster throughout the race. It tells us we got a little bit better, which is what we needed. We’ve got to come back with a better package.

 “After qualifying, we found a puncture in the radiator hose,” added Gerhart. “It put us in the back at the beginning. It is what it is.”

  “It was a huge improvement,” said Billy Gerhart. “Sometimes it’s baby steps. But this was a big step. I would’ve loved a top-ten. But not one of the top cars dropped out.

 “The pit stop went good,” Gerhart added. “We could’ve gone into the (Lap) 40s, but we wanted to put right tires on. And it made us better. We ran our best with three laps to go. This is the best we’ve run in four years here. That’s the fastest we’ve been.”

 Gerhart settled into the 12th spot around Lap 24, and he was able to maintain that track position for the rest of the race. But as it went on, he lost more and more laps to the leaders.

 Gerhart finished three laps off the lead lap. His fastest lap was timed at 56.206 seconds and his top speed came in at 160.125 miles per hour.

 By contrast, Eckes’ best lap was 53.238 seconds and his fastest time was 169.042.

 “We had a work-able car off the truck,” said Bobby Gerhart. “It just needed an adjustment here or there. The way these cars are, if you make a little adjustment it can make a big difference on the watch.

 “When you work with a package like this, hopefully its the right package for here,” Gerhart continued. “It was a much better car than we had here in June. It was three seconds better, but it’s never enough. These guys running up front are as fast as the guys who are going to run on Sunday (in the NASCAR race).”

 “Now we know we’re going to take this car to Lucas Oil Raceway in October,” said Billy Gerhart. “It was way better than what we had here last month. We just needed another adjustment. If we could go home, come back and run the race tomorrow, we’d be faster. But I don’t know if it would make a difference.”

 It was recently announced that Bobby Gerhart will be inducted into the Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in November. In some circles, it is believed to be an honor for Gerhart that is way, way overdue.

 “Certainly, it’s an honor,” said Bobby Gerhart. “For anybody who plays any sport, to be in that position puts an exclamation point on a career. If anything, when you stick at something for as long as I have, you can have good days and you try to push through the bad ones.

 “I have many, many people to thank,” Gerhart continued. “Anybody who’s helped Bobby Gerhart during a 42-year racing career, I owe a debt of gratitude. This is not a one-man sport. You’re only good as the people who support you. There are hundreds of people in Lebanon who have helped me over the years.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Bobby Gerhart’s Career Accomplishments on ARCA Circuit

Bobby Gerhart’s 8 wins at Daytona came in ’12, ’11, ’10, ’07, ’06, ’05, ’02 & ’99. Outside his career-best ARCA championship point finishes of 2nd, he also finished 3rd in ’99, 5th in ’00 & ’91, 8th in ’88 & 10th in ’90 & ’97. In well over 300 career starts since 1988, he has 55 top-5 finishes and 122 top-10s. His best superspeedway finishes other than wins at Daytona & Talladega are 2nd at Daytona ’00, 3rd at Talladega ’11 & ’08, 3rd at Talladega ’05, 3rd at Pocono ’04, 3rd at Talladega ’97, 4th at Daytona ’08, 4th at Pocono ’08, 4th at Kansas ’05, 4th at Pocono ’02, 4th at Michigan ’98, 4th at Texas ’98 & ‘91, 5that Pocono ’06, 5th at Pocono ’04, 5th at Kentucky & Talladega ’00, 5th at Lowe’s & MIS ’99, 5th at Pocono ’02, ’97 & ‘96, 6th at Kansas ’06, 6th at Pocono ’06, 6th at Daytona ’04 & ‘14, 6th at Daytona & Pocono ’01, 7th at Nashville ’06, 7th at Talladega ’06 & ‘14, 7th at Pocono ’05, 7th at MIS ’02, 8that Kentucky ’06, 8th at MIS ’04, 8th at Daytona ‘98, 9th twice at Pocono ’15, 9th at Pocono ’09 & ‘10, 9th at Chicagoland ’10, 9th at Kentucky ’05, 9th at Gateway ’04, 9th & 10th at Atlanta ’98, 10th at Pocono ‘05 and 10th at Kentucky ‘04. His best short-track finishes are 2nd at Anderson ’00, 2nd at Flemington ’99, 3rd at Salem ’06, 3rd at Hagerstown ’89 & Flat Rock ’91, 4that Winchester ’07, 4th at Toledo ’04, 4th at South Boston ’02, 4th at Toledo & Winchester ’00, 5th at Toledo ’07, 5th at Winchester ’06, 5th at Lake Erie & Milwaukee ’05 and 5th at Kil-Kare ’00. Bobby also won General Tire Pole Awards at Daytona in 4 consecutive seasons ’03, ’04, ’05 & ‘06. Also Pole winner at Talladega ’06, ’02 & ’01, MIS ’98 & Winchester ‘00. He has led 839 in 35 races. His first race was in 1976.

 

 

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