Tatnell Races into Third Place in Cactus Classic PHOENIX, AZ (March 3) -- After running 10th in Friday's World of Outlaws "A" Feature at USA Race Park, Brooke Tatnell said he needed to start turning top-10 finishes into top-fives. The...
Tatnell Races into Third Place in Cactus Classic
PHOENIX, AZ (March 3) -- After running 10th in Friday's World of Outlaws "A" Feature at USA Race Park, Brooke Tatnell said he needed to start turning top-10 finishes into top-fives. The driver of Woodward Racing's #2 Volcano Joe's Coffee Schnee did just that Saturday, racing into third place in the Cactus Classic at Manzanita Speedway.
"I didn't expect to do it tonight, to be honest," Tatnell said following his seventh top-12 finish in as many races in 2007. "Just knowing we were going to race with a 'B Game' -- not an 'A Game' -- tonight, we didn't expect to run this well. It's just the dedication of the team (Crew Chief Troy Renfro and Mechanic Rob Beattie). We plugged our way through what we thought would be a bad scenario and made it into something positive.
"I'm really rapped. I'm rapped that we got through this first period so well. I've always said the first month would be the hardest for us. Now we can start building and regrouping and get to where we need to be. It's a real confidence-builder. We know some victories will come our way; we just have to be consistent night-in and night-out, and that's what we've done so far. Hopefully, a top-10 will be a bad night for us soon. Our worst finish has been a 12th -- tell me that after 50 races and we'll really be pleased."
Despite qualifying only 16th-quick in the 36-car field -- .314 seconds off new track record holder Kerry Madsen's 15.235-second lap around the legendary semi-banked, ½-mile oval -- Tatnell earned a position in the Dash Race with a runner-up run in the Second Heat Race. A fifth-place finish in the dash put the #2 Volcano Joe's Schnee inside the third row at the beginning of the 30-lap main event.
"We scraped through in qualifying," Tatnell said. "We got through by the skin of our teeth there. I've said all along I don't agree with the new format, but it saved us tonight. There was only four one-thousandths of a second between (17th-quick) Dion (Hindi) and me. That's just how close it is."
Tatnell was close behind eventual Cactus Classic winner Donny Schatz during the first several laps, then followed the World of Outlaws points leader past Randy Hannagan as the leaders entered lapped traffic seven laps into the race.
Tatnell exchanged fifth place with Tim Kaeding during the race's middle stages. He drove the #2 Volcano Joe's Schnee into fourth place, passing front-row starter Justin Henderson deep in the second corner early in the 20th lap.
Tatnell chased pole-sitter Paul McMahan for nine laps before claiming third place with an inside move through turn two with only 1¾ laps remaining.
"We don't know a lot about this motor, so we were trying to piece it together and figure out what we need to do fuel-wise and gear-wise," Tatnell said. "It got faster as the race went on, and the other guys slowed down. It's not a big-track motor, and this is a racetrack that demands horsepower. The racetrack came back to our speed. Once it slowed down, it suited the speed of our engine. Prior to that, I think it was about two-tenths of a second too fast for us. A tenth or two a lap ends up being a lot, but the track came to us.
"We had our best starting position of the year and our best finish of the year so far. We just hope this is the beginning of a lot of positives for us. We came away with a good result -- things are good. We moved around and found that the bottom suited the car better than the top. We kept the same speed on the top and on the bottom. The thing is the shortest distance around the track is the bottom. Staying there was definitely good for us."
Tatnell's first top-five finish of the season pushed him into fourth place in the World of Outlaws standings, only three points behind Terry McCarl.
Woodward Racing will have almost two weeks to prepare for the March 16th event at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, TX.