TJ Hartman Racing News May 29, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Fletcher Motorsports - TJ riding high in turn 4 during heat race action at GHR

TJ Hartman Racing - Update: 9's!

Puyallup, WA - May 26-27, 2012...

Memorial Day Weekend in the Northwest brings with it the ASCS Northwest Sprintcar tour to Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, WA.  In sticking with his plan to run as much as possible early in the season, TJ loaded up his WESMAR powered Maxim for two nights of racing on the 3/8 mile clay oval.  Fortune both good and bad would strike the team, and TJ held on to run 11th and 9th respectively on the consecutive nights of action.

 

TJ spent the week prior as he always does, preparing his car for the weekend thrill ride.  Some repair damage was in order from the previous weeks rock damage, and the Puyallup youngster made the best with what he had to work with.  TJ begins the weekend: "I don't think I was as confident heading into this weekend as I should have been, and I think that cost me a little bit the first night.  I pulled a good pill(9) the first night so that helped by starting off the front row of my heat race.  But I really didn't capaitalize on it, and was fortunate with this crowd to start as far up as I did in the main event."

 

Starting second, and finishing in the same spot, would give TJ just enough points to line up behind the 8 car redraw.  Yet as tough as ASCS action is, the team also began to feel the confidence that has been building the past few weeks.  "My start was horrible" TJ describes the green flag dropping on the main event.  "I fell back quite a few spots and then just slowly started to work my way back up.  I've been railing the top of 3 and 4 pretty good lately, so I just went there and started picking off cars."

 

After working his way up to 7th place, a yellow flag would bunch the field up, and lead to another poor restart for TJ.  He finishes the first night: "I made a big mistake on the restart.  It took a few laps to get going again and I worked the track pretty good, but it just wasn't enough.  I really feel like we hadn't made big enough changes to the car to get where we needed to be, and I wasn't helping it any by making poor choices on the restarts.  Everytime I would make up some ground, I would lose it all over again.  All in all, the first night was OK."

 

The #19 would cross the stripe in the 11th position, and head home to rest and prepare the car the next morning for night two.  Whenever you get to race two nights in a row, you have an opportunity to fix your mistakes from the first night, and that is just what the team committed to doing before heading back to Elma.  TJ talks about improving on the first night:  "Knowing that I had the advice and help right there telling me what to do, I knew it was up to me to accept the plan and get the job done.  Both Rod and Will have been giving me excellent advice, and I should have listened to them the first night.  Especially knowing that it had worked before.  It is frustrating to finish a night knowing you didn't push it hard enough.  I wasn't going to let that happen two nights in a row."

 


Photo Courtesy of Nicki Hartman - TJ getting some advice before pushing off

 

But as the team was loading the car at the shop, they noticed a damaged part on the front end.  So a new axle was quickly installed and the car loaded in the trailer.  "That could have been a bad deal" TJ states.  "I'm really glad we caught that.  Elma is a fast place and you don't want to have steering issues there."

 

From that point, it was all about the upcoming pill draw and the evenings heat race action.  TJ begins night two: "I drew another 9, and started outside the front row of my heat race again.  And I made another mistake by not capitalizing.  Both nights I was lucky to land where I did, but I should have been better, because I had a fast car.  We went with the program we should have had the first night, and the track was perfect.  I've got to start getting it done in these situations."

 

TJ would once again start second and finish in the same position, and put himself right back inside the 5th row of the main event in 9th position for the start of the final night of action.  "Rod and I talked a lot about the track, and he gave me the confidence I needed to tighten up and drive the car." TJ states.  "We watched the track together during the other classes, and we both knew the track was going to be good on the bottom, so thats where we setup to run.  I just started to focus on the start and let them setup the car."

 

As the green flag dropped on the final race of the weekend, TJ would hold his own in the position he started.  A few laps in, he began to find a rhythm, and began moving forward as he did the previous night.  At one point, a yellow flag would find him lined up in the 7th position, with some heavy hitters breathing down his neck.  TJ talks about the main event: "I knew right away that I had a great car.  The bad thing was my brakes were going away and it was getting harder and harder to hit the bottom.  I slipped up the track a couple of times because I had no brakes, but only one car got by me, so I kept trying to stay on the bottom.  Finally I had no brakes at all so I had to go up top."

 

A little past midway through the race, TJ had been circling the high side of the track, and holding his own around the 8 position.  TJ talks about the midpoint of the race: "Travis(Jacobson) was running the bottom while I was on top, and later I thanked him for giving me room.  He didn't know I had lost my brakes.  He just wondered why I went to the top.  But really, I found out my car was just so good that I could run anywhere.  He got out in front of me a little bit and spun out in turn four when he got shoved up the track by another car.  I was able to get by him and Trey(Starks)."

 

Starks was collected in the spin and both cars flipped.  Each would be OK, but both were done for the night.  TJ narrowly avoided another mess when two separate incidents on the same straightaway at the same time forced him to spin to avoid hitting the carnage.  He kept it going and would retain his 7th place position for the final stretch of the race.  With just a handful of laps to go, TJ would hold onto the 8th position until Jayme Barnes passed him at the line, giving the team a top 10 finish in the 9th position.  TJ finishes the main event: "The changes we made on the car were so good, it was just working so nice that I could put it anywhere on the track.  It made the transition to the top much easier when I lost my brakes.  I have Rod to thank for that.  He pushed me to make the changes needed, and he was right.  I'm happy about where we ended up considering the circumstances, and if I had a car like that at Elma every night, I would be happy."

 


Photo Courtesy of Nicki Hartman - Young fan Colton Fox asking for the keys to TJ's sprintcar!

 

The appreciation never ends when you have great people helping, and the entire TJ Hartman Racing team is grateful to all that helped, and stopped by to show their admiration for the young sprintcar driver.  "I cannot thank Rod enough, and Will too." says TJ. "He repaired my wing from the week before, and helps me a lot in reading all the situations.  Mike and Jim were there on the first night, and Diana and Kailey too, and that means a lot to me to have them there.  And I don't think I have ever had so many friends and fans just hanging around the car all night.  That's pretty cool too.  I have a lot of good friends, and I want to get them another win soon!"

 

You can see more pictures of the action from this past weekend by going to Fletcher Motorsports and clicking on the picture to view the entire album.  Or you can see some of the racing action on video at NSP Racing Videos. Thanks to John and Nathan for capturing the action.  TJ finishes the weekend: "I'm having fun, and I feel like we're getting closer to running good every weekend.  I just have to push it and get my starts better, and the results will show.  I've got some extra work this week to figure out what happened to the brakes, and losing a day doesn't help.  But it does get me closer to the next race!"

 

TJ will be at Grays Harbor Raceway this coming Saturday. Be sure to come out and cheer on the Pride of Puyallup, as TJ and the #19 sprintcar team look to continue the positive momentum! If you can't make it, be sure to follow along on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tjhartman19 or on TJ's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tjhartmanracing

 

Next scheduled stop - Brake Check!

 

TJ Hartman Racing