PIR 2011: The Race in Pictures

By R. A. Fariello | Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

The first race of the 2010 NASCAR Grand National “K&N Pro” Series took place at the Phoenix International Raceway.  Brett Thompson, driving the Thompson Motorsports Chevrolet Impala, started in 17thplace and finished a very strong 5th.

The race was also a milestone for Brett Thompson: In a career that includes races numbering in the hundreds and, in cars ranging from street stocks to NASCAR Camping World Trucks, this PIR event marked his 100th start in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race.

In recognition of Brett’s accomplishment, both the NASCAR Series Officials and the K&N Corporation honored Brett with a properly reserved acknowledgement of achievement along with a special gift that reflected exactly what it means to be a professional race car driver.

It was an honor that Brett, his family and, his Team, accepted with sincere appreciation.

From the air, Phoenix International Raceway can be seen nestled against the mountains to the South.  Some of the fan RV’s have arrived by Tuesday; but the area around the track will hold thousands of them by race day.

For the November PIR race, much of this venerable track will be changed. The first phase of this work will include repaving, elevation changes and, moderate reshaping of the racing surface.

Later changes will extend to the infield and seating areas.

Note: Immediately following the Sprint Cup Race, winner Jeff Gordon operated a piece of excavating equipment and removed the first bit of the old racing surface; it was taken from the

Start/Finish Line.

Brett Thompson Prior to starting his 100th NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race

The TMS Crew pushes the brand new RTTI #61 into the NASCAR Tech Inspection line.

The car, directly out of the TMS Fabrication Shop, passes Inspection without any significant issues

“Robert Yates Racing Engines” is now the NASCAR spec approved engine supplier. Lee Schwartz, a respected engine builder himself, is now the “Rep” for Robert Yates Engines. Lee (right) is pictured while in conversation with TMS Crew Chief, Charlie Wilson.

Charlie Wilson confers with chief mechanic “Big Willie” about stored setup data for PIR

Tire guys! Larry Williams and Jeff Ward also confer on retained data from prior PIR races

Tire pressures are absolutely critical: and yes, pressures really are measured to the 100th of a psi!

2010 was a difficult year for Thompson Motorsports. Mostly due to the whims of Lady Luck, a substantial number of cars, both “leased” or those driven by Brett Thompson, were destroyed by the end of the season. Thus, a large number of new cars had to be built for 2011. Thompson Motorsports Fabricators worked long hours during the off-season and new cars began rolling out of the Race shop just prior to the PIR race. The car pictured above had never been track tested … and it needed considerable adjusting to get it up to 16th quick in practice.

Later, at the drivers meeting, Brett Thompson’s 100th NASCAR K&N Pro Series race was celebrated.

Above; Joey Mancari, NASCAR K&N Pro Series Director, presents Brett with a celebratory “Friends and Competitors” autographed helmet.

Tony Yorkman (right), Sports Marketing Manager for K&N, presents an K&N gift certificate award to Brett. For anyone who is a fan of, or a competitor in, racing, K&N is a ‘friend’ whose aid to the sport is enormous – and appreciated. The support provided by K&N has clearly earned it the patronage of every serious racing fan.

NASCAR Official Larry Harper presents another celebration gift to Brett: a new #61 car! It is a good bet that the ‘driver’ of this car will be Brett’s 16 month old son.

Rich Thompson, owner of both Thompson Motorsports and Rich Thompson Trucking Inc., with wife Jane, await the start of Brett’s 100th NASCAR GN K&N Pro race.

The #61 begins its qualifying lap. The new car qualified in 17th position. Although a mid-pack qualifying position was disappointing, Brett called the car “very good” and said he was sure it would “race well.” That prediction turned out to be correct.

The cars are lined up early for their 4:30 PM race time

6 minutes prior to Engine Start; final checks on the car continue!

Green Flag: Turn #1

Turn #3: The #61 Rich Thompson Trucking Inc. (RTTI) Impala passes yet another competitor

Brett sets up the #35 car for a front straight pass; this moved the #61 car to 3rd place. Unfortunately, it was ruled that this pass did not occur for a full lap prior to yet another Caution Period (43 % of the race was run under yellow – a result of random chance). With few laps remaining in the race, time ran out on Brett and he had to settle for a satisfying “17th start to
5th place” finish.

In racing, while one competitor is celebrating a good finish, another may be experiencing a costly misfortune. Racing is a fraternity of friendly competitors. In serious crashes as pictured above, all competitors exhibit concern for the both the driver and the Team. Happily, this driver was not seriously injured … and that is greatest victory of all!

The Brett Thompson on-track Media Interview following his 5th place race finish.

The first 5 cars are selectively torn down and inspected by the NASCAR Officials. By the November PIR Event, the in-progress surface and geometric changes will be completed. It will be a new challenge for the drivers while the Crew Chiefs will have to collate brand new track data.

This is the helmet that will never go racing! Thank you to family, friends, fellow competitors, NASCAR, K&N, and, to our highly appreciated Fans.
- Brett Thompson

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