PORTLAND, Oregon - For Joey Tanner it seems like only yesterday that he was behind the wheel of an asphalt late model stock car for the first time in his driving career and turning laps at the famed Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in the 2009 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
"All the Northwest teams are set to help each other out during the Showdown. Mike Longton, Jared Vorse, Jay Sauls and myself all plan on pitting together and give those other guys at the Showdown something to think about. We all want to represent the North"— Joey Tanner
The reality is Tanner and the rest of the super late model field took to the track nearly a year ago just long enough to dial their cars in and then watched the rains fall for nearly two straight days without getting the opportunity to race the entire event.
Fast forward to this year’s Showdown and the driver of the Jody’s Chevrolet Impala heads to Southern California brimming with confidence after winning the 2009 ASA Northwest Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year title and the prestigious Yakima Speedway Fall Classic.
A short-lived trip to Irwindale one year ago still resonates with the Portland native, he said.
“The Showdown is a race every driver wants to win and for me it was a need to win situation (in 2009) for exposure purposes,” said the former dirt late model hot shoe. “Having the race on SPEED was a bonus and to have a shortened race dictate the outcome (of the winner) was very hard to swallow-especially after the kind of year we ended up having on the asphalt in 2009.”
With a brand new Port City late model being readied by crew chief BJ Tidrick, Tanner indicated that this year’s chances for success at the Showdown are very good for his International Parking Management race team.
“We got our new chassis courtesy of winning the iRacing.com Northwest Tour rookie title and it’s almost complete thanks to all the hard work from BJ and the crew based in Yakima, Wash. They’ve worked hard to build this car from scratch and we’re taking a very nice piece to the Showdown,” Tanner confirmed.
Overcoming adversity starting with the shortened run at Irwindale followed by a snowed out season opener on the Northwest Late Model Tour and a few mechanical gremlins has prepared Tanner’s Tidrick’s Quality Transmission’s pit crew for a variety of challenges, he noted.
“The main challenge to overcome last year had to be our luck,” Tanner explained. “My first year on the asphalt started off in a very frustrating way there in Irwindale and then to have quite a few races nearly won only to see problems arise and stop the momentum was tough.
“We kept fighting and got a win in Montana (in the limited late model support show for the Cory Wolfe Big Sky 150 at Mission Valley Speedway) and then capped the year off with the biggest win of my racing career at the (super late model portion of the) Fall Classic. Now with that monkey off our back we are more focused and pumped up about the Showdown then we ever were before.”
To reach victory lane Tanner will have to overcome super late model drivers from across the United States heading to Irwindale with the same winning goal. In fact some of the toughest competition may come from drivers the Oregon native has battled for victory in the past, he noted.
“All the Northwest teams are set to help each other out during the Showdown. Mike Longton, Jared Vorse, Jay Sauls and myself all plan on pitting together and give those other guys at the Showdown something to think about. We all want to represent the Northwest at its finest and each of us is certainly capable of winning the race. I think we will all work well together to put ourselves in that (winning) position.”
The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown kicks off the 2010 racing schedule at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. For tickets and other information log onto www.toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com To learn more about Joey Tanner jump onto the driver’s website at www.joeytanner.com