Phoenix International Raceway: The Race In Pictures

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

The 15th race of the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro season was contested at PIR. The Speedway is 1 mile around and is also a strongly asymmetric oval.  With a recent, and mild, configuration change it is also capable of producing mid 130 mph qualifying speeds and maximum end point speeds of around 160 mph. It has also earned something of a legendary status; for years many great races and racers have battled on this beautiful but tough track. Thompson Motorsports, again, transported two cars and two teams to this event. For this race, the well known #61 car would be driven by Brett Thompson while the #60 car would be driven TMS teammate, Braeden Havens.  For Brett the track was a familiar venue: for Braeden it was an introduction to the larger NASCAR tracks and the speeds they bring.  As expected, 50 laps of practice, and a few additional laps in race conditions, was all that was required for Braeden to be fully race competitive.

Braeden’s Race: Braeden began his practice sessions with a reasonable measure of caution.  With each additional set of laps, Braeden’s times were consistently quicker.  By the time practice was finished, the #60 car was more than 1 second faster than when it began. This improvement continued into the qualifying period when he surprised observers with a 13th place effort.  From that position Braeden began his race in a measured manner.  By lap 16 he broke out of a pack of cars which were holding him back and he then began a 30 lap period of very quick laps.  At that point, the #60 car developed an overheating engine (290 F) which required a cautious approach be used for the last 10 racing laps. Braeden’s finish was a surprising, and very credible, 15th.

Brett’s Race: The #61 TMS Impala was very quick right off the Hauler.  With Brett back driving after a 4 month hiatus, and with a huge measure of PIR race experience, the #61 ran within a range of 2nd to 11th throughout the two scheduled practice sessions.  Brett Thompson then drove the car to a 5th place qualifying effort.  Expectations were high in the #61 camp as the race began and, indeed, the initial laps of the race seemed to support that feeling.  However, after a few laps of competition the car began to “push” on exit from both turns #2 and #4.  Brett fought the tight condition all race long and, as the checkered flag waved, the #61 car managed a good, but less than expected, 9th place finish.

Early Thursday Morning: PIR awaits its “4-NASCAR Divisions” weekend

Todd Havens follows the TMS hauler; it is Thursday at 11AM and it is also the NASCAR “Hauler Entry” time

The Haulers are unloaded and the cars are prepared for NASCAR Tech.  Pictured (R to L) are Todd and Braeden Havens with Hannah and John Newhouse. While Braeden and Hannah are TMS drivers, both fathers are very experienced Super Late Model drivers.

While the final adjustments are made to the cars prior to the scheduled late afternoon practice, Brett Thompson relaxes with his two other drivers: it is good to be a driver!!

Racing multiple cars requires two full teams: here Tire Techs Larry Williams and Jeff Ward discuss tire stager for their individual car setups and driver preferences

Brett’s car was close to perfect during practice

For the first few laps on the larger and higher speed PIR track, Crew Chief Lonnie Rush did not seal the front valence against the track.  This produced a light push and a slightly more stable car.  After Braeden’s initial practice laps the suspension parameters were adjusted to achieve maximum front end sealing.

Although it was dark at the completion of practice, the Teams remain long enough to adjust their cars as per their last driver communication.

John and Hannah Newhouse, free of driving duties, meet with the media director for PIR: a NASCAR Radio interview was arranged for Hannah.

Racing Fathers and racing Sons

are, nowadays, joined by racing Fathers and racing Daughters!!

The following morning, Friday, the crews are out early getting their cars ready for the 2nd scheduled practice session,

PIR is a beautiful track in a beautiful setting.  However, this entryway leading from the Media parking area was the source of some humor.  “Artistic Judgment” quickly prevailed and within 10 hours the “WM port-o-let” entry decorations found a new, and less conspicuous, home!

Following the second practice the cars go through pre-Qualifying Tech: after qualifying the cars are impounded. Note the Camping World Truck inspections in the background. With all 4 NASCAR Series at PIR, work space was at a premium.

With only 50 total laps on the larger and faster PIR track, Braeden qualified an excellent 13th

For his qualifying effort, Braeden receives congratulations from his father Todd … well, sort of!!!

After qualifying the cars are Impounded

Late Saturday afternoon: Rich Thompson joins other spotters on the grandstand roof prior to the 5 PM race time. It was a very cold day in Phoenix and rain was a concern. The cold remained but the rain missed the track location.

Braeden Havens at Driver Introduction

Brett Thompson at Driver Introduction

Parade laps

The #61 was very quick during the initial laps: however, it quickly developed a “push” exiting turns #2 and #4. As a result, Brett’s lap times slowed by about .2 seconds

Braeden begins a pass.

Braeden gets a ‘nose’ out front on the next lap.

The #26 passes Brett, but not without some damage to the #61car. The tire mark on the front door is minor but the metal damage ahead of the Left Front wheel was serious. It extended about 15 inches into the airstream and that, in turn, destroyed the airflow to the rear spoiler.  The ‘push’ that the #61 car had before was now made much worse.

As the leader takes the checkered flag, the results are displayed on the scoring tower. The TMS cars were 9th and 15th.

Nightfall: the race crews load up and clean up. The track is empty and quiet. For TMS, this moment represents the end of the 2012 season.  We thank you all, our fans and friends, for your support and interest. We hope to see you all, again, in 2013

To each and every one; we at TMS wish the best for you and your families during this season of serenity, reflection, and joy.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

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