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Auto Club Speedway, Fontana CA; A new Team Dynamic generates a positive result.

All Photos By Gina Fariello

By Richard Fariello ~ California February 25th, 2009

21st place finish at the California Speedway was an acceptable result. For the TMS Team, however, it was the result of excellent teamwork in overcoming several unexpected difficulties. Thus, there was a very high level of pride associated with this hard earned 21st place finish, mostly because it serves as a metaphor for the success of a new Team philosophy, and positive dynamic, instituted within the TMS organization.

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The 2 mile Auto Club Speedway at Fontana CA has a design twin in the Michigan Speedway. However, due to minor changes in geometry, the slightly lower corner exit speeds at the CA facility create an even higher need for both acceleration and speed. The TMS crew did superb work in setting up the #61 Truck and it was both fast and stable at both ends of the track. Front stretch speed was another matter. The crew labored tirelessly in an effort to find more of it. Whatever the cause, most probably aero, a full solution to the problem could not be found. The race itself followed a standard pattern for the Fontana facility; that is a clean race with few caution flags accompanied by a field that tends to stretch out


on the track. Kyle Busch, driving a Toyota which appeared to be powered by a Pratt and Whitney Turbine, was clearly the class of the field. For Brett Thompson and the TMS Team, the race was about getting the very best possible finish given the straightaway speed of the #61 Truck. This would involve timely and clever pit stops, strategic use of new tires, stretching the fuel window, and “stealing speed” by drafting whenever the opportunity arose. Brett had one additional idea; that was to rely on his formidable car control to attack turn one, at the Green Flag, in an effort to pick up as many positions as possible (tire temperatures are low when the race begins and many competitors exhibit reasonable caution for the first turns while tire temperatures normalize). In a stunning move, Brett drove into turn 1 at full throttle and by the turn 2 exit, was in 24th place, a pickup of 7 positions! Two laps later, as all tires warmed up, 3 competitors used their speed advantage to pass Brett again, but in doing so, used up a little bit of tires and car in the process. Brett then settled into 27th place for a considerable part of the race, but it was obvious that his first turn gamble had paid a dividend. At roughly the 130 mile mark, it became noticeable that some of the previously faster trucks were loosing some speed and were not as quick as they had been earlier in the race. However, the #61 TMS Truck was being driven with great intensity and NASCAR Timing was reporting a measurable improvement in Brett’s lap times. In fact, Brett’s laps were now being recorded as roughly equal to a group of Trucks running in the 12th to 16th positions. With a combination of surprise and pride the entire TMS Crew watched Brett steadily improve his position from 27th position to 21st position by the end of the Race. 21st position is good but not normally a cause for a Team Celebration. But in the normal course of life, there are always times when a variety of circumstances seem to conspire against your success. In the final analysis, it is how, and what, is done in response to a problem that ultimately defines the term success. For TMS, an extraordinary TEAM Effort turned this result, which would be normally viewed as OK, into a defined Success as well as a Group Victory. RACE Notes:  The TMS #61 Truck was the highest finishing Dodge in the race.  Brett reported that he was able to draft the Winning Truck for a couple of laps but, when the draft was broken, that truck opened a large gap on the next straightway!  On driver introduction, Brett received what was possibly the loudest fan ovation. Clearly, 15 years of being a ‘nice guy’ to both the fans and their children, has been appreciated by them.  Brett’s second qualifying lap was a work of ‘driving art’. It included a turn #1 entry under power (extending to the end of the grandstands) and ‘foot to the floor’ driving all the way around Turns #3 and #4.  All 3 NASCAR race divisions had a full entry list for the Fontana event. There had been concern that the economy might hurt the size of the fields in 2009, but there was no evidence competitor dropout at Fontana.


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The Auto Club Speedway reported an increase of 8,000 fans for the event, demonstrating that the health of the sport remains good.

NEXT RACE: TMS will compete at the Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle TX. It is a Camping World NASCAR Grand National event. TMS invites you to view the race live on HDNet. Thank you for your support from All of us at TMS.

The time for practice is near ‌


… and to reach the track you drive through the infield tunnel…

… and then begin what will be 3 hours of practice time


NASCAR pre-qualifying inspection

Brett and Rich Thompson walk to the staging area prior to qualifying


The TMS crew readies the Truck for its qualifying laps

At this time, it is Brett’s turn to qualify


The on track, Pre-race, interviews are conducted by Network TV

Accelerating off Turn #4 as the green flag waves and the race begins


It is a very long way down the front straightaway at Fontana

Professional competition ‌ at 185+ mph!


Crew Chief Lonnie Rush “calls” a superb race. He is joined on the ‘box’ by Jane Thompson and car builder Aaron Brown

9 laps to go and a quick ‘splash’ of fuel is needed


The checkered flag waves and the race is complete

The race trucks are loaded on the hauler and the long drive back to Jerome ID begins. The Transport Drivers go unnoticed in the high profile nature of the sport, but they know best, the real meaning of the words, “NASCAR Touring Series.�


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Auto Club Speedway, Fontana CA; A new Team Dynamic generates a positive result