NASCAR released its weekly penalty report on Wednesday afternoon, and contained in the report was the reinstatement of NASCAR National Series driver Chris Hacker, who had been serving a suspension since August 16th.
The Indiana native was suspended for violating section 4.4 D of the NASCAR Rule Book due to a DWI arrest, which Hacker self-reported to the sanctioning body, on August 15th. After completing NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program, Hacker was officially reinstated by NASCAR.
With his suspension lifted, Hacker will pilot the No. 35 entry for Emerling-Gase Motorsports this weekend in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Dead On Tools 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
Hacker comes into this weekend thankful to be back behind the wheel of a race car because he truly believed his transgression in August marked the end of his racing career.
“Honestly, when my situation happened, right away I kind of accepted the fact that I probably would never be a race car driver again,” Hacker explained to TobyChristie.com. “NASCAR put me through the Road to Recovery program, which was super helpful. Going to the classes and learning about how other people struggle with certain things in their lives, how alcohol was their outlet, and what they do to stay away from that really, really helps.”
The race car driver, who has been clean and sober since his suspension, thanks the sanctioning body for having steps in place for drivers to find redemption when they make mistakes in their lives.
“I appreciate being able to go to the Road to Recovery Program and NASCAR for being willing to reinstate me,” Hacker said. “It’s a huge blessing. Like I said, I pretty much fully expected to never drive again, which honestly would be understandable.
“I’m just keeping my head down and focusing on being the best that I can be for right now.”
While the situation is not something that anybody hopes to ever have to go through, Hacker says he has gained more appreciation and perspective on what it means to be a race car driver.
“It definitely helps give me a better perspective, and it definitely humbles me,” Hacker stated. “I’ve been racing since I was eight [years old] and it’s all I’ve really wanted to do in life. I guess I was kind of taking it for granted there for a little bit thinking that, you know, it can never go away, but obviously it can go away within a blink of an eye.
“Honestly, the whole situation is kind of a wake-up call I needed. I would drink for the wrong reasons, stuff like that, and I used alcohol as a route to escape my problems in life. But after going through the road recovery program, I’ve learned there are better ways to get through hard times in life and stuff like that. Not just as a race car driver, but as a person, the whole situation has helped me get a better perspective on my career and life.”
As part of his recovery process, Hacker has gained a better appreciation for the work that goes into the race cars themselves as well, as he has taken on a role as a mechanic for SS Green Light Racing.
SS Green Light Racing team owner Bobby Dotter spoke highly about the driver, and now mechanic. Hacker has shown such incredible work ethic in the SSGL shop that Dotter hopes to have Hacker behind the wheel of one of his cars someday.
“As part of Chris working towards getting back in the driver’s seat, he has been working in the shop on the No. 08 cars. Turns out, he is a heck of a mechanic,” Dotter told TobyChristie.com. “Couldn’t have asked for him to have worked any harder. Really proud of Chris and hope to have him driving for us in the future.”
Hacker, 23, has two career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, which both came this season. The driver scored a best finish of 14th at Richmond Raceway in the spring.