Tatnell Runs Seventh in Thunderbowl Opener TULARE, CA (February 24) -- Although his right rear tire was rapidly losing air pressure during the final laps, Brooke Tatnell drove the ...
Tatnell Runs Seventh in Thunderbowl Opener
TULARE, CA (February 24) -- Although his right rear tire was rapidly losing air pressure during the final laps, Brooke Tatnell drove the #2 Volcano Joe's Coffee Schnee into seventh place Friday when the World of Outlaws opened a double-feature event at Thunderbowl Raceway.
Tatnell, who won his third straight Australian Sprintcar Championship earlier the previous weekend, started inside the fourth row in the 35-lap feature race. He moved into the fifth starting position when mechanical problems in the #11H Selma Shell Maxim forced fellow Australian Kerry Madsen to start at the rear of the 26-car field.
"I don't know what happened to Kerry, but I know he wanted to have a good weekend as a tribute to (the late) Dave Helm," Tatnell said. "We got a break there, but we had some breaks go against us, too. At the start of the dash, we went from 10th to fifth in the first corner, but somebody crashed and that took us back. In the feature race, we actually got into the fourth spot on a restart by passing Terry (McCarl), but the yellow came out, so that put us back again.
"As the race went on, the car was getting tighter and tighter. We had a tire going flat, and that made the car tighter. In fact, we came in from the feature with only four pounds in the tire. We lost two positions on restarts because the car was just so tight because the tire was going down."
Tatnell has finished in the top 11 in all four World of Outlaws feature races this season.
"We're not making excuses why we're not winning races and we've been stuck in the seventh-to-11th area," Tatnell said. "We've only run four races, and we've been pretty consistent in that area. We're still getting our engine program together. The engine we ran last night was four years old. I have two of my crew guys from last year, and we're running pretty good. It's just a matter of us getting into a rhythm. The program is just different with this new team, so it's just a matter of jelling. I'm pretty happy with the way we've run as a first-year team coming out, and doing what we are with the equipment we have right now. Once we get more organized and get a rhythm going, it's going to be a lot better. The weekend we had off was probably more of an asset to our team than the others. We basically had January to get ready.
"It was a neat deal to win the (Australian Sprintcar) championship. It wasn't easy making five trips back and forth to Australia in the last 12 months. It was tough to leave my wife and daughter, but it was a neat deal to get back home and spend some time with my dad and win another championship with him. Garry Rush is the only other driver to win three in a row, so it's a pretty neat deal. It was a great week, but now we have to focus and see what we can do here. We need to win some races to repay Larry (Woodward) and Lori (Felts) for having faith in us as a team and me as a driver."
Tatnell was the fourth-fastest qualifier -- only .076 seconds off Randy Hannagan's pace -- and finished fifth in the Fourth Heat Race.
"It was just one of those deals with the format in the heat race," Brooke said. "When you have the fastest 16 cars inverted, it makes it tougher (to qualify for the dash). In our heat race, we started on the second row and the guys on the front row (Justin Henderson and Jason Sides) didn't take off as quick as we thought they would. Joey (Saldana, who won the feature) got ahead of me and they raced three-wide down the front straightaway. We had nowhere to go, and we slid a little in the first corner and dropped back to fifth. If you don't finish in the top two, you don't make the dash, so we had to consolidate. We were fourth-quick, but two cars out of the fastest four didn't qualify for the dash. We didn't want to tear up a car to run in the top two just so we could get a better starting spot in the feature."
The World of Outlaws paid tribute to Helm by utilizing the "missing man" formation during the series' famous Four Abreast parade lap. Jac Haudenschild moved out of the pole position while Madsen led the cars around the high-banked, 1/3-mile oval before the green flag fell. Helm, who owned sprint cars for 18 years -- the last nine with the World of Outlaws --, passed away Sunday.