By Bill W, Robert Kocak photo
November 3, 2010 – With his only 360 experience coming in a handful of shows in California a few years back, Brandon Wimmer utilized a Gaerte engine and the Alan Barton Motorsports #7TW Maxim to register a fifth place finish at the Short Track Nationals. The event, held at the I-30 Speedway near Little Rock, Arkansas drew a record 125-car field. The Fairmount, Indiana driver locked himself into Saturday’s finale with a second place prelim finish on Friday night. It looks like that will be the topper on a good season for Brandon.
A practice session helped the #7TW team dial things in. “We found some things that really worked with the car in practice on Wednesday,” says Brandon. “That made a big difference going into Friday, because we were more prepared.”
The Fairmount, Indiana driver started things in the prelim on Friday with a drive from sixth to third in his heat. “We got a good draw,” says Brandon. “I’m good for drawing bad numbers and I did, but that was a good thing at this event. We were able to work our way up to third. We had a moment there where we had to take the Lucas Oil sign out there in the infield in turn two, but we made it through! I was trying to get by (Jason) Solwold and I just got it in there too hard. We were lucky it didn’t cost us.”
Brandon turned some heads by winning his Qualifier from outside row two. “The Qualifier was when I found the middle of the track for the first time,” he says. “All weekend, the car worked in the middle well. Most were running on the bottom, but I was able to build momentum up to pass some guys.”
Carrying the fourth highest point total amongst the 70-car field, Brandon lined up outside of row tow for a feature that would lock the top three finishers in Saturday’s finale. “It was to our advantage to go out in a later qualifier for sure,” he says. “We found the middle, and that was to our advantage. We had a little trouble getting by (Chad) Kemenah the first half of the feature. Finally, we were able to clear him, and I really think we had the fastest car in the feature that night.”
Brandon ran up on leader, Brad Sweet, but had to settle for second at the checkers, locking himself into Saturday. “It was tough to pass,” he says. “Once I got by Kemenah, I was able to catch Brad right away. He got around a lapped car (Brooke Tatnell), and the lapped car wanted to race me, so he got away from us. It was great to be locked in though amongst 125 cars. Watching those guys scramble on Saturday…I’m glad it wasn’t us.”
Saturday was a long night that saw twelve heats before Brandon would hit the track for the Dash. “We did a lot of watching on Saturday,” he says. “By the time we got to do anything for the Dash, it was taking rubber already. We were able to start outside of row one, and we were able to pull beside (winner) Greg Wilson a few times, but he moved up to the middle and we had to settle for second. It was just too hard to pass anybody.”
An attempt to rework the track yielded little results, and the team was caught a little behind on setup. “The feature was locked down,” says Brandon. “I thought when they worked the track, it may get rid of the rubber for awhile, but it really didn’t. It happened too quickly for our setup. We didn’t have it loose enough. When you’re tight in rubber, there’s not a lot you can do.”
Brandon got in line and finished a solid fifth. “It was a deal where you had to protect your spot,” he says. “There was a time in turn four, when Brad Sweet and Jason Sides were able to get by me. We weren’t really good in the feature, but to finish in the top five at that event was a really good way to end the season.”
The limited 360 experience didn’t seem to matter. “Things happen a lot slower in a 360 when you are used to running the 410s,” says Brandon. “I think that’s why you saw the 410 guys locking into the top six spots for Saturday.”
Brandon couldn’t have been in Little Rock without some great help. “I have to thank Gaerte Engines and Alan Barton for making this possible,” he says. “Gary Beck really did a nice job with the car all weekend too, and that put us in the position we were.”
Brandon has realized that a driver not only needs good equipment on the racetrack, but needs to also be in the best physical shape to be a success. That’s why Brandon has added a wellness program to his daily routine, which includes adding a line of scientifically validated nutritional products from Mannatech. Mannatech, Incorporation is a leading developer and provider of proprietary nutritional supplements, weight management products and skin care solutions. Athletes around the world rely on Mannatech products because they are formulated from high quality, natural plant sources and are formulated without any substances banned by major worldwide anti-doping agencies.
Brandon has been invited to serve on an elite team of athletes called Team Mannatech because of the results he has had with the products and will be working to share his experience with drivers, crews and fans. With more than 200 athletes representing countries around the globe, Team Mannatech members have been drawn from the exclusive ranks of sports legends, the everyday athlete and young enthusiasts destined to become superstars. They inspire action and attract passionate wellness champions and are all role models for their sport, committed to helping people of all ages lead a healthy, active lifestyle.
Brandon races with Brooke Tatnell in Little Rock (Robert Kocak Photo)