Portland International Raceway: The Race in Pictures

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

The 9th Race of the NASCAR “K& N Pro” Season took place at Oregon’s venerable, Portland International Raceway.  This event marked the 3rd and final Road Race for the NASCAR ‘West’ Division in 2011.

For Thompson Motorsports it was also a chance to turn around what was a multiple list of good races but very bad racing luck.  It was also a chance for the TMS Team to visit with extended family members who, for the most part, are separated by extensive distances.

For Brett Thompson it was a chance to build on his improving prospects in Road Racing.  Brett’s resume is full of oval racing experience including almost everything from “Modifieds” to NASCAR Trucks, but it was a very limited resume in terms of Road Racing.  After a noticeable performance improvement at Infineon, there was clear and positive anticipation for a good result at PIR.  This was indeed the case.

Brett practiced 14th quick and 10th quick in the two respective practice sessions and, later, qualified 14th.  Within the first few laps of the race Brett moved into 10th place and then raced within the lead group the rest of the day.  This was a satisfying performance for an improving road racer.  It was also one that produced a 6th place race finish and it also solidified his 6th place season points position.

It is evening when the Teams arrive at Portland; Mt. Hood dominates the scene at the Columbia River – and absolutely everyone wants to dine outside at one of the shoreline restaurants!

The Haulers line up outside of the track on Thursday Evening.  NASCAR has a very strict timeline for all of the race events.  For PIR “Hauler Entry” is scheduled for 8 AM on Friday morning.

Early Saturday Morning; the 29 cars in the race are all unloaded and made ready for their first pass through NASCAR Tech.

Roof and Front End templates are removed – the RTTI #61 Impala passes “Tech”

Practice begins and it looks like an off-road event. Spring came late to the NW this year and the wildflowers of Spring have bloomed in July!  Brett was 10th quick in the second practice.

On the back side: At most road race venues a fan can “walk the track” and pick their own favorite seating.  At PIR they can also drive there.  The nearby TV cameras confirm that this is a good location.

It would appear that the driver of the NASCAR/K&N Hauler has an eye for ‘scenic parking’

Brain Trust! Between Practice sessions Charlie Wilson (R), TMS Crew Chief, talks with an old friend and Crew Chief for the Gene Price #26 car. Both are highly experienced in all of NASCAR’s Divisions.

The #61 suffered a tire failure during practice #1. A Goodyear “Tech” visits with TMS tire specialists to examine the damage. It was caused by debris.  Note that Goodyear is a safety oriented racing ‘partner’.

Rich Thompson, owner of Thompson Motorsports and Rich Thompson Trucking Inc., looks on as the car is prepared for Practice #2

Friends in high places; the TMS photographer has managed to get herself onto the corner workers stand!

It is Race Day morning and it is also unusually warm and humid. PIR is a very fan friendly place.

After Qualifying, the cars are ‘Impounded’ and NO work can be done on them (without a penalty). Thus, ALL teams have their own guide for final ‘checks’.  B-747 pilots; is your checklist this long??

Brett Thompson being interviewed by the Speed Channel Crew; Brett had an introductory line to say and he clearly found some humor involved in that ‘job’.

On the Hauler: Jane Thompson had her brother and his wife visit with her at the Portland Race

Race Time approaches; the non-traditional PIR girls are doing their …. well, whatever it is they do!

The “Bi-Mart 125” is a tribute to our Military. After the National Anthem, they started the race with a “21 gun salute” … but, these 21 guns were authentic ARTILLARY!  And, yes, the ground shook!

Brett Thompson at Driver Introductions

NASCAR History: Marvin Panch in his record holding 1961 Daytona 500 winning Pontiac (149.6 mph for 500 miles) stops for a few words with ‘80-something’ Hershel McGriff.

At 3:15 PM, 29 NASCAR K&N Pro cars take the green flag.

In the very early laps, Brett Thompson moved into the top 10 group. He also suffered substantial damage to the right side of the car on lap #3.  That is all within the ‘norm’ for road Racing.

Entering the chicane on lap #2 the undamaged car looked much better than it did on lap #4!!

Entering the chicane; it requires braking from 145 to 40 mph, and a 90 degree turn, all within 450 feet!

The Pit Crew waits for Brett (right) to make his pit stop.

Throughout the event, Brett was in position for an excellent finish.

After a couple of unintentional racing incidents in Turn 1, the TMS #61 still crossed the finish line in 6th position.

After the race Brett finally has time to spend with some of his family members – who are also his Fans!

Sunday Evening after the Race: It is now time for Portland International Airport to be the center of most of the race team’s attention. As night approaches, the familiar figure of Mt. Hood stands as a landmark identifier associated with NW Oregon.

For those who used air transportation to return home, the travel prospect was very good.

However, for those using the interstate to drive Eastbound, very bad news awaited them. A large fuel spill generated by a trucking accident, resulted in a hazardous spill condition that closed the Interstate for roughly 12 hours!  The TMS Hauler was, unfortunately, one such trapped vehicle …. And it waited for 12 hours!

TMS will race next at the Colorado National Speedway on 8.06.2011.  Rich Thompson Trucking Inc. has a Field and Executive Office in the Denver area and, thus, a hospitality event is scheduled for the RTTI area employees prior to the Colorado National Race.

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