What a difference a year has made, but the results are continuing to prove what an underfunded can do when team chemistry plays a major role starting with the driver, crew chief, and spotter combination. When the green flag waves for this weekend’s Southern California Toyota Dealers 200 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, the distant memory of Auggie Vidovich crossing the finish after leading the last 141 laps will be remembered by those who were involved in the team’s first win.
[media-credit id=50 align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]A lot has changed since that memorable win back in 2010, with the most notable being the driver who was replaced when the team ran out of money to run the rest of the season. There comes a time in almost every team owner’s life when they have to sit back and evaluate what is more important, to continue to race, or have a roof over their head and food on the table. During the months leading up to January and the 2011 Toyota All-Star Showdown, the team regrouped and team owners Jim and Terri Cass let the team know they were ready to fire up the car to make another run at the 2011 season.
After spending countless hours searching for a driver who could put the team back into victory lane, Jim and Terri found Wilton, California’s Jason Fensler, who had already tasted the fruits of victory in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West division back in 2008. Fensler made his first start for the team driving the No. 50 TCR sponsored Chevrolet, in the season opening All-Star Showdown which is a non-points event. As luck would have it, an accident with 20 laps left ended Fensler’s night pre-maturely and the team would finish the race 28th.
The night was not a total loss when Fensler said, “The car was strong there for the Showdown. Roger Bracken and the team have done an excellent job all year preparing great cars,” which gave the team a new found hope for the remainder of the season. Fensler would prove to the team they made the right decision by hiring him, when he took them to victory lane in his first points paying race at his home track in Roseville, California.
Even though Fensler only led the last eight laps, it was enough to give the team their second consecutive victory when the car number was changed from 50 to the 59. Jim and Terri felt the number change was needed, since the No. 50 only had one top-five finish in nine starts, and seemed to be bringing the team bad luck. Fensler’s third start netted him an impressive third place finish at the Bullring in Las Vegas, after getting turned around on lap 124 from contact with 16-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski and David Mayhew.
Once NASCAR lifted the red flag because of Mayhew’s wadded up race car, Fensler would restart the race 13th on lap 129, and methodically work his way up to his third place finishing position. Saturday night’s start at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale will mark Fensler’s fourth official start for the team, and his second at this progressively banked half-mile.
Team Cass Racing is hoping to carry the momentum from their third place finish at the Bullring into Saturday nights 200 lap feature race, which will be run along with the King Taco Super Trucks, and the Langers Juice S2 division.
“Irwindale, being a home track for Jim and Terri Cass as well as the entire Cass family, would be a great place to give them another victory. I truly look forward to seeing all of the supporters and fans of Team Cass Racing at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale,” said Fensler about Saturday night’s return to Irwindale.