"PHOENIX" TEAMS MAKE IT TO IRWINDALE by Mike Twist
Everyone is Here Now for Toyota All-Star Showdown
For most teams assembled for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale, Speedway (CA) was a time to relax. Unless you had a special armband, the garage was closed until lunchtime and that allowed time to see a few Southern California sights, recover from the night before or go over set-up notes in the hotel room.
There were a number of teams that rolled into the pits for the Elite Series portion of the show who didn’t have that luxury at all though. In fact, they raced at Phoenix International Raceway on Thursday afternoon, loaded up and hauled the 350 plus miles to Irwindale.
NASCAR opened up the garage area early for those teams on Friday morning to unload and get caught up to the Elite teams who were on hand at Irwindale to practice on Thursday. Everyone took advantage of the extra time on Friday, with welders buzzing, sheetmetal being hammered out and cars getting put back together from 150 laps of Phoenix racing.
Some teams had more work than others. Southeast Series competitor Dusty Williams had engine problems at
Phoenix, as well as a wreck on the first lap and the last lap of that race. His team started to patch up the car before hitting the road and put the finishing touches on it Friday. That happened after a white-knuckle ride to get to Irwindale.
“My guys drove all night to get here and they let me sleep,” said Williams. “I thank God that that we made it here and are still alive to talk about it. After the race, we cooled it down and pulled our motor out to put a Hamner motor in and we had to order a muffler and have it shipped to our hotel. We’re putting it in now.
“We got most of our work done in Phoenix. We were behind because last night [at Phoenix] everyone’s tempers were getting short and we started to slow down our progress. So we said we’d load up at finish it here. This morning, everyone is fresh…uh…fresher, so we’re going to get it all together for the first practice here no problem.”
With the team focusing on how the car ran, certain cosmetic issues just aren’t going to get attended to before tomorrow night’s race, but that’s okay.
“You know from 150 feet away on the camera, you’ll
“I think that it will equal out,” said Schendel “I don’t know how much practice that they got yesterday, but the Southwest Tour guys know this place pretty well and we’ve been here a few years, so I think that we have something figured out. I don’t think that we’ll be behind too bad.”
Speed51.com was right there on Friday morning as the garage opened early for those who race on the mile at Phoenix the day before. (51 Photos)
never be able to tell that it’s not perfect,” said Williams. “I’ll get some black spray paint and take care of the tire marks.”
Midwest Series competitor Tim Schendel finished in the top five at Phoenix and that helped make the turnaround easier.
“It went pretty good for us,”said Schendel. “We got loaded up after the race after finishing fourth there and brought an unscathed back. That was cool. We got to the airport on time. Two guys drove the semi up and we all got into LA at about the same time.”
All of the Southwest Series teams that finished in the top 10 of the standings made the trip to Irwindale, with nobody opting out after the Phoenix feature.
The Grand National side of the pit area was fairly quiet on Friday morning. Ryan Moore’s #74 Busch North team was allowed to come in early to get their back-up car ready after a crash in practice on Thursday and Jack Sellers had his West Series team working early to fix an engine problem.
Speed51.com will have more from the track throughout the weekend.
The #40 team of Dusty Williams is hard at work after their Phoenix adventure.
J.R. Norris works the liftgate on his team's hauler to unload his car.
J.R. Norris and his #5 team had the luxury of a separate car for each race. That, and the fact that they didn’t finish high enough to have to tear down in Phoenix after having tire problems, made their trip pretty easy.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Norris. “We didn’t have to go through tech, so we got out of the racetrack pretty early last night. I think that we got to the hotel around 11:30. It helped that we gained an hour when we came over here.”
In fact, Norris’ team have had many later nights at the track just racing in one place.
“Yes, we have,” said Norris. “We feel pretty good. Now we have to get this thing through tech and out to practice and we’ll be in good shape.”
The extra practice session for the “Phoenix” teams will allow them to catch up to the other Elite competitors.
The teams of Jack Sellers (#15) and Ryan Moore (#74) were allowed into the pits early at Irwindale to fix damaged equipment.