TJ Hartman Racing News May 26, 2009



TJ Hartman Racing News May 26th, 2009
May 26th, 2009
Author: Ted Hartman


Photo courtesy of Pit Princess Pics - TJ on the gas at the Grays Harbor Raceway

TJ Hartman Racing - UPDATE - 30 Something!

Puyallup, WA - May 24, 2009...

The Northwest traveling sprint car series trekked to the Grays Harbor Raceway this weekend, and TJ and the strong contingent of local racers got their chance to measure up on two distinctly different track surfaces each night. On Saturday night the track was heavy, tacky, rough, and fast - and TJ raced like a veteran. Sunday the track was dry and dusty in hot laps, but ended up wide and racy for the main event after some H2O was added after the heat races had already set the lineups for the night. Unfortunately TJ wasn't able to transfer through his heat race or the B-main to run the 30 lap main event.

The running joke among drivers is "here comes TJ, it's going to be a 30 something" - referring to the traveling series pill draw format. And true to form, the first night he drew a 38 - placing him starting dead last in his heat race. That's nothing new for TJ, and running as well as he has been in recent weeks, he wasn't worried. "The track was really fast." TJ starts. "I knew I could pass some cars, and with their new passing points system, I figured I had a good chance to make the main event out of my heat race."

Photo Courtesy of Fletcher Motorsports - TJ in heat race action Saturday night

TJ got a great start from row 4, and picked up a couple of positions right away. Then he slowly reeled in the cars in front of him and when the 10 lap heat race was complete, the Puyallup teenager crossed the line in the 4th position. Knowing he had secured enough points to transfer straight into the A-main event, TJ got another surprise. "Mac(series tech official) came over with a smile and said I was in the top 8 redraw." an elated TJ states. "My car was fast and we pretty much nailed the setup. It felt good to be out on the front stretch for the redraw. My team works hard for me, and they deserved that. When the little girl Evelynn was ready to pull my pill out of the can, I was excited because there was a 2 and a 8 left in the can, and I didn't have to pull it!"

Photo Courtesy of Fletcher Motorsports - 6 year old Evelynn pulling the re-draw pill for her driver!

Evelynn told series announcer Fred Rannard she was confident and was going to pull a 2 for TJ, hoping to put him on the front row for the start. But it wasn't to be, and TJ would start the main event from outside the 4th row. TJ's confidence was still high however, and he readied his Wesmar powered Maxim for 30 laps of cowboy up racing! TJ discusses the main event: "I got a great start again and passed Roger(Crockett) and another car around the outside. I ran 6th for a few laps and was just getting comfortable when I lost all my tear offs on about the 7th lap."

Clear plastic shields are placed on the helmet visor, and as they load up with mud, the drivers can pull one at a time to clear their vision. "One of the posts broke and I lost 24 tear offs all at once. I spent the rest of the race wiping my visor with my glove. The track was getting pretty rough, and I started hitting the holes. A couple of times I almost flipped. They had a red flag for a flipped car with about 5 laps to go and they opened the track up for teams to add fuel and make adjustments. I wanted my crew to check the car and get me my other helmet, but they didn't get a chance. As soon as they got to where I was parked, the officials were screaming at them to get off the track. They weren't even going to let us add the 5 gallons of fuel, but my dad did anyway. I'm not sure what their problem was."

With just a handful of laps remaining, TJ was pushed off and finished the first night with no clear vision, but a great car and a determination to finish. When the checkered flag dropped, he was in 11th place. He concludes the first night: "I was a little disappointed because I know I had a stronger car than that. My front wing was collapsed, and on the last restart I took a rock through the arm guard and it numbed my right arm when it hit. I almost flipped, but it felt good to finish the race. We were camping at the track, so we just got the car ready for the second day."

Photo courtesy of Fletcher Motorsports - TJ in heat race action on day 2

The team enjoys the atmosphere of servicing the race car while the fans mingle about. TJ received compliments on his drive from the first night, and many of the visitors commented on how tough the local drivers are to compete with. The second night pill draw went according to tradition, with TJ pulling a 31, and placing him in the last row of his heat race again. TJ wraps up the second night: "The track was really dry and I kind of misjudged how dry it would get. I passed a couple of cars, but it wasn't enough and we ended up in the back of the B-main. We made some adjustments and I passed a couple of cars in that race too, but there was no way I was going to transfer, so I just started searching around feeling different parts of the track. I feel good about the changes we made, and now I know it was too late and not enough. We just cleaned up the car and watched a pretty good A-main from the sidelines. It's kind of fun to watch guys like Mitch(Olsen), Henry(VanDam) and Brock(Lemley) run the high side on a dry track. I learned a little by watching."

Photo courtesy of Fletcher Motorsports - TJ racing with GHR regular Otto Jorgenson

The team packed up with a good attitude, a little more knowledge, and a sense of pride knowing the teams they compete with every week at the Grays Harbor Raceway are revered by others in the Northwest for being some tough competition. TJ concludes the weekend: "I felt a lot more confidence heading into this weekend racing against these guys. It's fun to race against different guys because each driver is different. I feel the weekend went good, but we just got behind the track on the second night. It's a lot of fun camping out and racing two nights in a row." TJ adds with his traditional smile: "I'd love to do it three nights in a row!"

Judging by the compliments, TJ's fans would love that as well. His youth is working for him, and makes him one of the drivers the fans love to cheer. With the support from sponsors and fans, the team will continue to enjoy the rewards of TJ's passion. We want to remind you to please support those who support us.

Next scheduled stop - Note taking, remembering, and new tear-off posts!

One more lap with TJ - "Hooker Harness supplies my safety belts. Their ratchet tightening system keeps me tight for the entire race. It doesn't matter if the track is rough, or how long the race is, I'm as tight after the race as I am when I push off. The system makes it easy for my crew to get me tight, and I'm proud to represent Scott and Hooker Harness. They help keep me safe, and that is the most important thing to our team. Thanks Scott!"

TJ Hartman Racing