Special from ARCA Racing – Midway through the 2017 ARCA/CRA Super Series season, driver Josh Brock knew something wasn’t right. He wasn’t feeling well, and despite the fact that he led the series championship and rookie of the year standings, it was effecting him in the racecar.
Brock visited a doctor and had some tests run. The tests came back with an answer no one is ever prepared to hear.
Brock was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a diagnosis that meant intense treatment and putting life on hold while his body recovered from a treatment than can seem almost as difficult as the disease itself.
“I went from running for a championship to hearing I needed to give it all up and it was devastating,” Brock said. “The cancer I had is one of the most treatable forms there is, but it’s also one of the most aggressive. If I had waited there’s a real chance I might not be here now.”
Brock, from Corbin, Kentucky, took one final spin behind the wheel of his No. 17 in the series’ race at Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia, Ohio, then turned his focus to treatment and recovery.
Brock never lost sight of his goal to return to the cockpit, and when he was given a clean bill of health on January 1, attention again turned on winning races and chasing the ARCA/CRA Super Series championship.
“As soon as I got that call that I was clear, I spent the next hour calling my crew chief and all my guys telling them we are going racing for the championship,” he said. “It was the easiest decision I ever made to get back in the car.”
A win on the tight high-banked quarter mile at Anderson, Indiana locked Brock into the series’ chase for the championship. He was able to stay in contention through the series’ playoff races at Winchester and Toledo, and was one of four drivers eligible in the final round, 400 tough laps around the incredibly fast, intimidating high banks at Winchester.
Brock had finished sixth just a month earlier at Winchester, but that race was only 100 laps in distance. And he finished behind two of the drivers he would race for the championship, Austin Kunert and Hunter Jack.
The 400-lapper at Winchester, as it always is, was a test of man and machine. Several accidents slowed the pace and thinned the field, while others were eliminated by mechanical or parts failure. Brock, however, was able to stay on the lead lap for most of the day and keep his car in contention.
After over three hours in the cockpit, Brock would cross the finish line in sixth position, not only a great finish to a difficult race, but he was the highest finishing of the four championship-eligible drivers giving him his first ARCA/CRA Super Series championship.
Brock will receive his championship accolades on the weekend of January 11 and 12, 2019 at the series’ awards banquet in Indianapolis, and then he will also have the opportunity to make laps in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards pre-season test at Daytona International Speedway. He will drive a car powered by the ARCA Ilmor 396 engine and prepped by Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track High Performance Racing Team as a part of the series’ “Road to Daytona” program for champions of ARCA’s two sanctioned late model tours. ARCA Midwest Tour rookie of the year Billy Mohn will also have the chance to drive the car over the weekend as well.
“I’ve been going to Daytona for a long time,” Brock said. “I have watched the Daytona 500 from the grandstands. I never really gave any thought to being out on the race track. It seemed like one of those unattainable things. I am really going to try to soak it all up and take in as much as I can while I am out there.
“I’ve talked to a few guys about it and they say it’s just like driving on the highway when you’re out there by yourself, just a lot faster. I hope I get to get out there in the draft with some other cars, too.”
Brock hopes that his story will motivate those who have been diagnosed with cancer.
“I just want people to see what happened to me and know it’s not the end of the road,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. I never gave up. I still chased my dream of being the CRA champion, and here I am. Now I get to go and do something I never dreamed was possible. I hope someone sees my story and it motivates them to keep working, to not give up, and to go chase their dreams.”
The ARCA “Road to Daytona” is sponsored by Fast Track High Performance Driving School, Eibach Springs, JRi Shocks, General Tire, Sunoco, Valvoline, ILMOR, and Tropical Manor Hotel in Daytona Beach. ARCARacing.com will have complete coverage of the open test omn January 11 and 12, with live timing & scoring and track updates free for registered users.
The 2019 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season will kick off with the annual Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway on February 9. The race will be televised live on Fox Sports 1, starting at 4:30 pm ET; ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring and track updates throughout the race weekend free for registered users.