Infineon Raceway: The Race in Pictures

Photojournalism: R. A. Fariello | Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

The 6th race of the NASCAR GN “K&N Pro” Series was held at the venerable Infineon Raceway.  Infineon is a very technical track and that creates fairly low average lap speeds in addition to a high number of racing accidents.  Races at this scenic “wine country” venue draw large numbers of both competitors and fans. For 2011 this event had many story lines, not the least of which was the fact that the TMS #61 Impala SS began to lose a cylinder during the early stages of the race, and later, was forced off the track in a racing incident. A second story line centered around the speed of the “K&N” cars; they shattered long standing track records and turned laps within roughly 1 mph of the Sprint Cup Cars – a reality made more remarkable by the fact that the “K&N” cars race on bias ply tires! To the surprise of many, the fast “K&N” qualifier would have started the CUP race in 26th place, and, in front of cars with numbers like 29; 13; 00; and 17.  This level of performance serves as witness to the engineering development, and level of competition, that has become the new norm for the cars in the K&N Pro series.

The race was won by Joey Logano in the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Car.  Brett Thompson, faced with the multiple misfortunes of a failing engine and being crashed off the track, fought his way to a 15th, of 40 cars, finish. This measure of fortitude and driving determination was both laudable and important: 15th place moved Brett Thompson up to 3rd in Series Points.

The Winners Circle …. And YES, Sonoma is centered within California’s Wine Country

At Infineon, the cars are unloaded from the haulers, pushed to Pit Road, and then set up at that location

Rich Thompson looks on as the TMS Crew begins work on the car setup

The terraced hillsides at Infineon create a scenic display area – used for a wide variety of promotion!

The dry golden grass which lends beauty to the rolling hills can also be a problem – mostly when the red hot undercarriage of a race car unintentionally drives on it!  Red Flag anyone??

With NASCAR Tech complete, the car is ready for the first of two practice sessions

A 4 picture sequence covering turn #1 through Turn #2: Above, exiting Turn #1 and transitioning under the landmark “Infineon Tunnel”

After the tunnel it is up a hill to the entry of the right-hand Turn #2

Turn #2 is a very technical, sharp, and pronounced off-camber, right hander

Exiting Turn #2; if done wrong the car will be parked in the grass under this early morning spectator!

Later in the day, the fans arrive at the track.  Infineon provides a very fan friendly environment … but it can also turn into a serious fitness event if someone elects to walk the multitude of hills the track covers.

Qualifying at Infineon is, following sports car tradition, by group.

Prior to the race, 40 NASCAR K&N Pro cars line up for the parade laps

NASCAR Officials hold the cars to meet the exact starting time.  Many race functions depend on proper timing, not the least of which is TV.

The “Green Flag”

Sprint Vision presents real time “Track Happenings” at several locations

“Infineon Racing”

It had to be a very intense drive for the TMS #61. With an engine ‘laying down’ (losing power), Brett had to do all he could to remain competitive.  Here he hits the Turn #3A rumble strips and lifts the RF wheel.

Turn 3A is an uphill and Right handed; it is followed immediately by a sharp crest and a downhill section. Note that the Right Front wheel, lifted on turn # 3a entry, has yet to return to the track.

Sprint Vision records Brett Thompson just after he was crashed off the track in a racing incident.  Brett’s excellent effort in keeping a car with diminishing power, competitive, was now lost to “racing luck”

The #61 Pit Crew does their best to fix the front end damage to the car

The #61, damaged as it was, still had to return to the pits to have additional sheet metal cut away.

The last lap! Somehow the #61, with a failing engine and after two crashes – but benefiting from a professional and determined drive – finished a very respectable 15th!

The race is complete; the TMS #61 has improved to 3rd in series points and, some of the bucolic and pastoral atmosphere of the environment has returned – at least for the moment!

Within the confines of the racetrack is a certified Deer Habitat.  And, yes, there are deer living there, and, for obvious reasons, no one may approach that area during a race.

The steeper hillsides which provide so much of the scenic setting associated with Infineon are not very compatible with modern lawn care machinery.  Thus, a Low-Tech, but proven by thousands of years of experience, methodology is well suited for the job at hand! Their ecologically balanced work is also performed at a much lower sound level than lawnmowers – or race cars!

TMS will next compete at the Toyota Speedway ay Irwindale (CA) on 07.02.2011.

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