Montana Raceway Park: The Race In Pictures

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

The 11th race of the NASCAR K&N Pro Race Season took place at the Montana Raceway facility.  The Thompson Motorsports #61 Impala SS practiced 7th and then 12th, Qualified 9th, and finished a strong 6th.

The short, 1/4 mile, Montana Raceway Facility was a pleasant surprise.  Although small, this pristine track has fairly high banking, a very friendly support staff, and one of the most scenic locations in all of racing! It seems quite obvious that the owners, Giles Thornton and family, and the manager, Doug Pace, are responsible for the culture that defines this facility. Also of note is the fact that the owners son, 13 year-old Giles, is developing into a talented young driver and one who is currently performing very well in the highly competitive “Super Late Model” class. It would seem clear that the full involvement with the sport, as exhibited by the Thornton family, is reflected in the care and nature of this MRP facility.

With a 6th place finish at MRP, Brett Thompson remains 5th in season points.

Approaching Flathead Lake from the South: about 55 miles to the North and slightly West, lies Kalispell. Another 15 miles to the north is the town of Whitefish, the Whitefish Lake, and the Big Mountain Ski Area.

The Montana Raceway Park Track is located between the towns of Kalispell and Whitefish on America’s seemingly endless north /south highway, #93.

Slightly NE of the northern edge of Flathead Lake is the magnificent Glacier National Park. This “Flathead/Whitefish/Glacier” triangle is an area, similar to much of Idaho, where nature’s scenic creations are, absolutely, of the highest caliber.

Pastoral scenes, like this one adjacent to MRP, are the norm for the area and the last 50 miles of transport through the Flathead Valley

The MRP race was a one day affair; Teams had began work early on Saturday morning

The TMS #61 Impala SS passes NASCAR “tech”

Brett was 7th quick in the first practice session.  The Whitefish/Big Mountain Ski Area ‘runs’ serve as a due-north backdrop for the Montana Raceway Park.

Some Team members stayed after the race for sightseeing: above, the spectacular Glacier National Park

Some family members used the early part of race day to do some local sightseeing; Pictured above; Whitefish Lake looking NW from Big Mountain.

While ‘family and friends’ had time to engage in other activities, the race teams were still busy. Above; like several other team members, Rich (L) and Brett Thompson walk the unfamiliar track surface at MRP.

The RTTI #61 was 12th quick in the second practice; Brett reported the car as being “pretty good.”

While the teams wait for “Qualifying” to begin there is never a time to relax for the dedicated K&N Pro (West) Series Director, Joey Mancari. Joey’s words; “I’m just checking things out … again.”

Brett qualified 9th; the times for the first 12 cars were all very close

After qualifying the cars were impounded; Brett Thompson and Michael Waltrip were parked side by side. Reportedly, Michael was driving a BMR car recently purchased for Giles Thornton to race in 2012.

The autograph session: at MRP it is conducted as a “stand up” event with the fans on the track and meeting the drivers on a face to face basis.

Pre-race activities: ALL parachutists landed within about 15’ of each other. It was an impressive feat!

Driver Introduction, in the MRP tradition.

Prior to getting in the car is a scene that any parent could enjoy; Brett’s family cheers him on.

Fist-bumps for ‘daddy’ … it can help!

The NASCAR K&N Pro cars begin their parade lap.

The green flag!

Midrace action: Brett gets inside M. Waltrip for position. The #12 faded late in the race but MW fought his way to an 8 place finish. Short tracks clearly have a well earned name; “Bullrings”!

Mid-race: Using the bottom groove, Brett began a strong move forward to 5th. Then an untimely caution flag bunched the field. On the restart, a slower car was blocking the #61, and by the time Brett had an opening to pass it, he was 10th. On a short-track, with difficult passes, this was very critical circumstance.

After the #61 fought its way back to 6th position, another critical racing event occurred. In battling for 5th place, the outside car inadvertently pinched Brett to the inside and, in doing so, damaged the right front of the #61. Brett’s lap times fell by over .05 seconds per lap and moving forward was now impossible.

With the front end pushed out of proper alignment, the “Goodyear” rubbed off the RF tire, and tire rub damaging the tire itself, the TMS #61 still managed to finish 6th. The TMS Team had higher expectations for this race, but given the circumstances, 6th was a very good result.

With the race complete, the Haulers leave the track.  For TMS, it is a 10 1/2 hour drive back to the Jerome, ID Race Shop. All things considered, it was a good weekend.

Early Morning Departure: as the TMS Team leaves Kalispell some “Friends in High Places” get up early to bid a farewell. It is the TMS intent to renew their acquaintance again next year.


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