Sonoma Speedway the Race in Photos

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

The fifth race of the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro season took place June 22nd at the Sonoma Speedway. The geometry of the Sonoma CA track is that of a right handed road course of just under 2 miles in length. With a multitude of turns, many of which are off-camber, it is a very technical race track.  As a result of those descriptive parameters, lap speeds are diminished with quick laps achieving average speeds of around 91 mph.

For this road race, the #61 VaCom/RTTI Impala SS was a relatively new race car and, based on its performance at Brainerd MN, it was anticipated that it would also perform well at Sonoma. After several adjustments Brett reported that, in race trim, it was again a “good car”. However, in this season of horrible luck for Thompson Motorsports, a fast car would not be enough to guarantee a successful outcome.  In the initial stages of the race the TMS #61 VaCom Chevy moved steadily forward and Brett was confident that good luck would finally be on his side at Sonoma. Incredibly, once again, that was not to be the case! In a mid-race incident the #61 TMS car was hit by another competitor and, along with other damage, one of its valve stems was broken off. The car was then forced to “limp” its way back to the pits for a tire change. Brett Thompson returned to the track 1 lap ‘down’ and, unfortunately, within a running order where the lucky dog designation was not a realistic possibility.

Incredibly, misfortune of one type or another has factored into every TMS race this season. With regularity, anticipated top-5 finishes were morphed into mid-pack results.  On a positive note, Brett Thompson currently stands in 8th place in season points. In addition, Brett drove a flawless Sonoma race, and it must be remembered that the #61 has been an excellent car at every race this season. In a final analysis, this reality forms an encouraging backdrop as Thompson Motorsports readies for the second half of the 2013 K&N season.

Brett Thompson and Thompson Motorsports welcomes our valued VaCom guests to Sonoma Raceway

The Sonoma/Napa area is the very heart of the California wine country. “White or Red”; it all starts with Green!

The cars line up on Pit Road.  Set-up and pre practice NASCAR Tech are all accomplished in this area.

Some of the VaCom sponsor’s employees visit the TMS Crew on pit road

Meanwhile, fans begin to enter the facility. The area behind the main grandstand has an almost carnival like atmosphere with a multitude of booths and displays.

Sonoma Gardening: it is not determined if they are all from the same family – but they are excellent grass mowers!

Things on pit road get busy very quickly as the K&N Pro cars and the “Cup” cars line up for practice. The front straightaway, start finish line, left turn under the tunnel, and the S turns (upper right) on the return leg, are all visible in the above image.

Sequence of 11 Images: #1. A “front side” lap around Sonoma Raceway begins with a high speed LH turn at the end of the front straightaway.

#2 The previous LH turn leads into the iconic uphill Sonoma “Tunnel Turn”

#3. From under the bridge the cars accelerate uphill

#4. The #61 sets up for a ‘top of the hill’ right turn

#5. The top of the hill ‘right hander’ is both a transition to a flat area and an off camber bit of asphalt.

#6. Exiting the turn the driver encounters a mild undulating area with a few reasonably normal turns.

#7. At this point the car transitions to a very technical part of the track.  It begins with an uphill right hand turn where drivers try to ‘straighten the turn’ by a planned use of the rumble strips.

#8. The prior turn immediately transitions into a sharp crest – and then a downhill drop-off. The car “unloads” badly, becomes loose, and requires a controlled application of power to avoid an off track excursion.

#9. Over the crest and accelerating downhill: Note the controlled over-steer associated with the car unloading over the crest. With very little wind to clear it, the dust from a prior off track excursion remains in the air.

#10. .  Above: the #61 car sets up for the 90 degree right hander at the bottom of the hill. Behind Brett is the lingering dust left by a previous car that did not properly negotiate the “turn & crest” section of the track.

#11. This sequence ends with a successful RH turn at the bottom of the hill.  To complete the lap another RH turn leads to a series of downhill S turns, followed by a hairpin right, and then another acceleration down the front straight.

36 cars are lined up for the 1 PM race

Brett Thompson at Driver Introduction

Jane Thompson (center) is joined by Crew Chief Will Harris and Patty Ward on the Tool Box.

36 cars start the race.

In the early stages of the race the #61 car performed very well.  Subsequent damage to the car (as previously reported) slowed the car considerably and it subsequently crossed the finish line in 17th position.

The next race for TMS is at the Colorado National Speedway.  It has always been a good track for TMS and the team expects a very good result there.

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