Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finesse, Patience, And Luck.

The #16 Hasa Pool Products / NAPA Filter Toyota Camry felt right straight off the trailer after arriving at the Infineon Raceway on 06/24/2011. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West was in Sonoma for a combination event with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Infineon Raceway has hosted twenty-one series races since 1978.

Driver, Moses Smith recorded ninth fastest in the first practice and seventh fastest in the last practice. The team was looking forward to qualifying for the Thunder Valley Casino Resort “200.”

Unfortunately, as Smith took the green flag on his qualifying run, his motor failed (threw a rod through the block). The resulting “no time” on the qualifying sheet and required engine change put the #16 Hasa Pool Products / NAPA Filter Toyota Camry to the back of the forty-one car field.

The Infineon race which typically attracts one of the largest entry fields of the year, can easily contribute to a driver losing ground in championship points standings. Consequently, the poor qualifying result could have proved very detrimental to the team.

“Whoopsie daisy.....blew the darn thing up....didn't even get a lap in. Starting last tomorrow....Hard Charger Award, here I come.” Smith Facebook'ed after his qualifying attempt. The #16 Hasa Pool Products/NAPA Filters team was able to change the engine before leaving the track after qualifying. Starting the race with an untested motor, Smith knew that maneuvering the winding road course in Sonoma from the back would require finesse, patience, and luck.

However, the race did not proceed exactly as planned. The team completed their scheduled fuel stop as planned on lap twenty-two. After moving up into the top-ten by lap thirty, it became necessary to pit again for tires, in an attempt to improve the race car’s handling. With almost half of the race completed, Smith restarted the race from the back of the field again.

Moses had worked his way back up into seventh place on lap fifty-seven of the sixty-four lapper when a tap from a competitor sent the #16 Hasa Pool Products /NAPA Filter Toyota Camry into a full 360 spin. Smith succeeded in holding on to it and continued without causing a caution. Unfortunately with just seven laps remaining, he had fallen out of the top-ten and was back to twelfth position.

The eighth yellow flag on lap sixty-two allowed the cars to group together and Moses was able to regain his positions and finish the race in seventh place.

“It was a pretty good day. Finishing seventh made it a really good day for points also.... Now off to Irwindale next week.” Moses stated.

As Moses predicted the day before, his charge from the back to the front earned him the contingency award – “Coca-Cola Move of the Race,” commonly known as the hard charger award. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Joey Logano and David Gilliland finished the race first and second respectively.

The Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 will air on SPEED on Thursday, July 14 at 6 p.m. ET

This event is the sixth of fourteen events on the 2011 schedule for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. They return to the track Saturday, July 2 for the Southern California Toyota Dealers “200” presented by King Taco at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.

Point Standings:
1. G. Pursley, 1080; 2. M. Smith, 865; 3. E. Holmes, 822; 4. B. Thompson, 804; 5. L. Martinez,Jr., 797; 6. D. Mayhew, 792; 7. M. Self, 771; 8. D. Harr, 725; 9. D. Kwasniewski, 663; 10. R. Philpott, 656.

Photo 1 by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Photo 2 by Chris Graythen-Getty Images

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