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TJ Hartman Racing News June 5, 2011

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Photo Courtesy of The Nicki Factor - TJ signing autographs for a well prepared fan at GHR Fan Appreciation Night

TJ Hartman Racing - Update: A return to Grays Harbor with a boost from the fans and friends.                             

Puyallup, WA - June 5, 2011...

TJ returned to the Grays Harbor Raceway on Memorial Day weekend to honor the teams close friend Marshall Schlenz in a memorial lap on the 3/8 mile clay oval.  Alongside TJ was driver John Tharp in the 5 car, which Marshall last drove in 2003.  A last minute decision to go ahead and compete that night with the ASCS series told the tale that the team still had the disappointing loss of a close friend on their minds, and better race results would have to come later.

A week later the team prepared for Fan Appreciation Night - a night that held more than one meaning for the 19 year old Puyallup, WA native.  Two seasons ago, TJ's season came to an abrupt end in a violent crash that destroyed the car and damaged the teams only engine.  It was a fate that led to an introduction and would come full circle two years later.  The teenager wound up spending that Summer on the road with eventual ASCS 2009 National Champion team of Paul Silva and Shane Stewart, and the relationship formed would help TJ in more ways than one.  TJ takes the story:  "Doing the memorial lap for Marshall was emotional and we probably should not have tried to run that night.  I didn't even take hot laps, but it did feel good to be back in the car.  I talked with Paul(Silva) this week and he just encouraged me to keep my chin up and try to keep turning laps.  He gave me a few reminders about setting up the car, so going into this weekend I had a lot more confidence, and I think it paid off." 


Photo Courtesy of The Nicki Factor - TJ and John Tharp during a Memorial Lap for Marshall Schlenz

TJ would time-in 5th quick in the new group qualifying format at GHR.  The heat race invert would slot the Wesmar powered Maxim outside the front row, where he beat former track champion and pole sitter Randy VanAgten to the first corner, and lead all 10 laps of the heat race for the win.  Scoring the second most points out of the heat races and qualifying would place him in the 8th position for the main event invert.  "The track was really slick and smooth" TJ states.  "I felt good in the heat and was pretty confident we were staying ahead of the track for the main event.  Paul's talk helped a bunch with that.  I got a couple positions on the start and then just focused on hitting the marks and running clean.  Grays Harbor is a fun track when it's slowed down and smooth, and the track crew did a great job of giving us a good track to run on."   

TJ would pick up a couple more positions on the night and finish in a respectable 5th place.  He concludes the race:  "We missed just a little bit on the set-up for the main, but we were much better than we've been in a while, and for my first real race in 8 months, I am happy with the way we did tonight.  Grays Harbor is a tough track to run and has some tough weekly competition.  We'll take this and build on it."

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Photo Courtesy of Fletcher Motorsports - TJ hotlapping GHR in 2010

The emotions from losing a close friend and team member still runs deep, and the thoughts for Diana, Kailey, and the Schlenz Family, are constant at home, in the shop, and around the trailer.  Even as the team celebrated a good finish to the night, the reminder that the 19 car finished in the 5th position, Marshall's number, tells us that he is still with us.  TJ concludes the night:  "It's always fun to do the Fan Appreciation nights and interact with the fans on the front stretch.  It's funny to see some of the kids that I've signed autographs for getting bigger every year.  I think some of them might be ready to go run the quarter midget track that we built there.  Getting hooked on racing early is a good thing!"

You can find more pictures from the past two weekends by visiting the TJ Hartman Racing fan page on Facebook or visiting http://fletchermotorsports.smugmug.com/2011Racing-1. You can also keep up to date on the latest news by visiting the fan page or his web site at: www.TJHartmanRacing.com Don't forget you can receive instant race night messages by signing up via twitter at: www.twitter.com/tjhartman19

The entire TJ Hartman Racing Team wants to thank everyone for all of the support shown over the past couple of weeks.  It's good to hear the words of encouragement and support when life deals the tough hands.  We miss our friend dearly, but we know he left us with the tools we need to keep forging ahead.    

Next scheduled stop - Car Maintenance!

Grays Harbor Raceway Results:
Saturday:  Heat     Start: 2nd    Finish: 1st
A-Main Start:  8th    Finish: 5th


TJ Hartman Racing