NASCAR trucks prep for Rockingham’s first big race in years

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ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- The Camping World Truck Series tested tires at The Rock on Tuesday, just weeks ahead of the track's first top-tier NASCAR race since 2004.

Several locals watched the teams test their Goodyear rubber at the Rockingham Speedway in Richmond County. The 200-mile race will take place at the historic one-mile oval April 15.

Former racer Andy Hillenburg bought the track from Speedway Motorsports in 2007. His goal was to bring a NASCAR race back to the speedway.

"This is big for this community," Hillenburg said.

"We're all real excited in the county," one fan said. "Glad to hear them on the racetrack. Glad to see them on the racetrack."

Wayne Auton, director of the truck series, said Hillenburg called him up as soon as he bought the racetrack wondering what he had to do to get a truck race.

While the track now has the SAFER barrier that NASCAR requires to get a race, another thing up in the air is how many people will show up.

One fan said they would need at least 15,000 to 20,000 people to make it.

"I knew when we tackled this project that it was going to be very hard," Hillenburg said. "We're not where we need to be yet, but I feel like we're going well."

But Auton said his first impressions of how much this community wants racing to return is promising.

"You pull up to a gas station, and people on the other side of the island are saying thank you for bringing NASCAR to the town," Auton said.

Tickets are available at the speedway's website, rockinghamspeedway.com.

The speedway had two Cup races starting in the mid 1960s. Speedway Motorsports eventually bought the track and moved its last Cup race to Texas.