Brett Thompson finishes 34th at Phoenix International Raceway

By R. A. Fariello

The final race of the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Grand National Series took place at PIR on 13 November. The race was marked by numerous caution and red flag periods, and, at the end of 3 hours, Greg Pursley took the checkered flag while Eric Holmes was crowned series champion. For Brett Thompson, and TMS fans, the race was a mixture of positive developments, leading into the 2011 season, being balanced by substantial misfortune at this particular race.
TMS brought two cars to PIR. Surprisingly, the primary car was painted jet black with bright white markings. That combination was dramatic in appearance but, unfortunately,
it was also difficult to “spot” under nighttime race lighting. The backup car, however, was painted in the familiar TMS blue color.
During the two scheduled practice sessions, mechanical adjustments to the car improved it to the point where Brett Thompson reported it as being “nearly perfect.” His lap times, on 45 lap tires, were so good that the car was, at one point, 3rd on the leader board. However, near the end of the last practice session, the right front tire suffered a 5” debris related cut and, subsequently, the car was heavily damaged when it impacted the turn #4 wall.
The backup car was unloaded from the hauler and setup work began immediately. After the initial setup the car still had to go through NASCAR Tech and then be rushed to its assigned position in the Qualifying order. Obviously, Brett Thompson would have to Qualify the #61 car without a single lap of on-track practice.
Qualifying began at 6:40 PM. With 44 cars entered in the race, Brett had to be fast enough to make the field but still try to exercise some restraint in driving a yet untested car. When qualifying was complete, the #61 was slotted in 24th position. Therefore, the primary objective was met: however, it must be remembered that the use of a backup car relegates that car to a last place starting position.
Race Time was 6:00 PM on 11.13. The TMS #61 lined up 36th in a field of 40 cars. Following the race start, Brett Thompson drove a few conservative laps as he attempted to determine the behavior of the yet untested backup car. After that initial evaluation the #61 car began a truly astonishing charge to the front of the field. By lap 50, and with only 27 of those laps run under “green” flag conditions, Brett had passed many of the eventual top 10 race finishers and was shown in 6th place!
At that point in time, misfortune struck for a second time. Immediately after reporting a “bad vibration” the car broke a right front suspension part and crashed into the turn #1 wall. For TMS bad luck spoiled what initially appeared to be a very promising weekend. On the other hand, this was the first race for the highly respected Charlie Wilson as a new full time, and in-residence, TMS Crew Chief. Both TMS cars at PIR reflected his extensive knowledge and philosophies, and, both cars were fast and exhibited excellent handling.
TMS will race again at the NASCAR “Showdown” at Irwindale CA. The performance of the cars raced at PIR certainly foster a measure of confidence for the Thompson
Motorsports program as well as for the 2011 racing season.

~ Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

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