Irwindale Event Center Raceway: Race in Photos

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

The first race of the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro West season took place at the Irwindale Speedway on 3.19.2016.This race was the first real test of a new car built in-house by Thompson Motorsports for the last race of the 2015 season. Due to engine problems at PIR, the TMS Team was unable to get a good reading of the cars on track and racing potential. However this race at Irwindale did provide the answers to these questions, and they were very positive.

In a major change for TMS an old friend and highly experienced driver, Johnny Borneman III, would be the driver of record for the TMS #61 RTTI Ford Fusion. It is an expectation that, with what was a de facto new car, much technical work would have to be done to get the car “right” for the race. That proved to be the case as the car practiced and qualified mid-pack {14th}. On the positive side, TMS Crew Chief Will Harris correctly predicted that in the cooler temperatures expected at Race Time the “track and the setup will come together”. That indeed was the case.

After the Green Flag waved, Johnny Borneman III quickly moved into the top 10 group. Seemingly satisfied with track positioning that ranged from 7th to 9th, the #61 was driven professionally throughout the mid laps of the race. This was an excellent strategy fostered by many years of driving experience. With roughly 25 laps to go, Johnny clearly dialed up his driving intensity. The track had, indeed, come to the car – and Johnny was making the most of it. By the time the checkered flag was waved, the #61 had a top 5 finish. Moreover, with several late lap times being among the fastest of the race, the entire TMS crew was elated at the now proven potential of the new car.

The TMS RTTI Ford Fusion is readied for the first of two scheduled NASCAR Practice Sessions

Brett and Johnny have a few words prior to Johnny going on-track for practice Session #1

In a change of rolls for Brett Thompson he watches practice with the TMS Team Spotter, Rich Thompson

Later Brett joins TMS Crew Chief and car builder Will Harris for the remainder of the Practice session

The #61 car had a good ‘set’ on the track but, initially, it was a little “tight” on exit

Crew Chief and Driver … and an important post practice “Debriefing”

It would appear that the drivers are getting younger – and much younger!!

In the second Practice, the car was better. In fact, both the #61 Crew Chief and Brett Thompson agreed that the cooler track temperatures at race time would be a good “fit” with the car’s current setup

At the final pass through of ‘NASCAR Tech”, the TMS Team lines up for a quick photograph

Driver Introduction is preceded by a chance for the fans to be meet and greet on the track

Johnny Borneman III gets a “good luck” sendoff, and morale boost, from his family

Crew Chief Will Harris confidently assures Johnny Borneman III that the car would race good. It did, and Johnny did his part by giving it a very professional ride

With minutes to go before the start of the race, Johnny prepares to enter the car. By any measure it was to be a very successful event. Racing from a 14th place start to a strong top 5 {5th} finish was gratifying for ALL involved.

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