From the first time he fired the engine in a stock car, Ridgefield, Connecticut's Scott Heckert wanted to be a NASCAR winner. The now-20-year-old went through all the highs and lows a driver can experience on his way to earning that title before he was able to earn it with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory at Watkins Glen International in New York on August 8.
Just eight days later, the hard work, diligence and dreaming that led up to a first victory were rewarded with a second.
Heckert drove a near-flawless race, took the lead with a thrilling move from third-to-first on a late-race restart and held on through a series of late-race caution flags to capture his second NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory in a row in the Biscuitville 125 Saturday at the Virginia International Raceway road course.
"This is incredible," said Heckert after his VIR victory. "The last six or seven races have been a dream come true. Even without the win, we've really been running strong. We've been great in qualifying, always running up front. I knew that as long as I was running up front the wins would eventually come."
Heckert started the day at VIR by earning his third NASCAR K&N Pro Series East 21 Means 21 Pole Award of the season. When the green flag dropped, he showed the way for the first 11 laps before electing to save his tires for a late charge to the front. He never left the top three and was second at the race's halfway point.
In the second half of the race, Heckert again bided his time and was running third when his opportunity to go for the win appeared ahead of him. Like the week before at Watkins Glen, Heckert went from third to first on a late-race restart, emerging over teammate Cameron Hayley with the lead on lap 52. He thwarted efforts of Hayley and others in the final circuits and on a final green-white-checkered restart that pushed the race to 60 laps instead of its scheduled 55.
"Those restarts seemed endless," added Heckert. "It was sort of like, how many times do I have to do this? How many times can I take the lead?' There's a lot of anxiety inside the racecar, especially when I was running away before that final restart. All I could think about was, 'Please don't crash behind me.'
Then the caution came out just as I was coming to the white (flag), and I said, 'Here we go.' Pretty much under those caution laps, I was thinking about what Cameron was going to do and how to defend him the best. I knew he still had a fast car and knew he was our biggest threat."
Heckert wasn't going to back down from his shot at a second victory when the door opened for the winning move.
"The restart when I restarted third, I was rolling with the 98 car (Hayley) on the restart," said Heckert. "He'd move to the left, I'd drive it in a little deeper. It was pretty much my goal to drive it in as far as I could without sliding up too much and get a good run up off the corner. I didn't think I ran (Hayley) particularly dirty. If he feels that way, then I'll have to talk with him, but I thought it was a fairly clean race."
Heckert came to NASCAR with a road racing background. His father had been a road racing enthusiast for years, a passion he passed on to his son. When the younger Heckert started his racing career, it was on the road courses in the Northeast, competing in Skip Barber series events. But then it was on to stock cars, where the road courses, while completely different from one another, have been kind to him the past two weeks.
"There's a lot slower-speed corners at VIR," said Heckert as he compared the track to Watkins Glen from the week before. "You really have to be careful of the back tires burning off. Watkins Glen is very fast, very flowing and easy on the throttle anyways. It wasn't too much of a tire conservation match today. It was 50 laps of trying to be as careful on the throttle as possible."
Armed with two straight victories and more momentum than the 20-year-old has ever had in his racing career, Heckert and the Turner Scott Motorsports team will look forward to making it a "three-peat" when the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to action on Saturday, September 6 at South Carolina's Greenville Pickens Speedway. Heckert finished 17th in the Greenville event earlier this season, but knows things are a lot different this time around.
"We didn't have quite the same teamwork that we have now. Now we've been fast on a bunch of ovals as well. We were fast at Columbus, we were fast at Langley and all the track that we can apply now to Greenville. Even though we have struggled in the past there, it's not going to carry over this time. We'll be good."
For more information on Scott Heckert, visit www.scottheckert.com. Follow Scott on Twitter, @Scott34Heckert and “Like” his page on Facebook by searching Scott Heckert Racing.
- 51 Sports/Scott Heckert PR - Photo credit: Speed51.com