Inside Line Promotions
– PLACERVILLE, Calif. (Aug. 2) – Tony Bruce Jr. has probably never been more excited to be in humidity.
The veteran is back in the hot and humid Midwest after a rough July swing through the West Coast with the ASCS National Tour, which dropped him to ninth in the standings.
“I enjoy going out to the West Coast and seeing all the fans out there,” the Liberal, Kan., native said. “We just didn’t have a good swing. That was just one of our bad times of the year. Now we’re back in the Midwest at track we run well at.”
After last Saturday’s race, Bruce Jr. and his crew nearly drove straight from Placerville, Calif., to Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, which hosts this weekend’s famed 360 Knoxville Nationals.
Nobody could blame him after a three-week swing through Washington, Oregon and California that featured two rainouts and only one top-20 finish, which came on Saturday at Placerville Speedway.
The weekend began ominously when Bruce Jr. and the team were forced to change engines after the hot-lap session on Friday.
“There was something wrong with it fuel wise or the injection wasn’t set perfectly,” he said. “With the mufflers we had out there, it was so hard to hear what the engine was doing. Sometimes it’s easier to diagnose the problem whenever you just change it.”
The crew swapped the engines and Bruce Jr. was able to make it to his heat race, where he started on the pole on an extremely dry track.
“We knew the track was getting slicker,” he said. “We were in one of the later heats. I made the call to tighten it up too much and I couldn’t keep it on the bottom. And you pretty much had to be in the infield to stay out front.”
Bruce Jr. finished third, which forced him into a B Main. He led all 12 laps from the pole to claim the victory and transfer to the feature, where he started 17th. However, the track continued to get slicker and the team left the loose setup from the B Main in the car for the main event.
“Early in the night we were too tight and late in the night we were too loose,” he said after finishing 21st.
Saturday wasn’t a lot better when Bruce Jr., who started fourth, jumped the massive cushion in turns one and two on the opening lap of his heat race. He fell to seventh and eventually drove his way up to fifth on the dry track, which again put him in a B Main.
“I messed up on the start, jumped the cushion and let those guys get away,” Bruce Jr. said. “That’s usually the time you get a lot of passing. It let those guys get away from us.”
He started fifth in the B Main, which is where he finished on a track that lacked passing. Bruce Jr. chose to utilize a provisional and started last – 23rd – in the 35-lap feature.
Starting in the back, it didn’t take long on the ¼-mile bullring before he was lapped and within a couple of laps a caution waved.
“After we got lapped, the caution came out and the leaders never left us,” he said. “That just shows how tough the competition is.”
Bruce Jr. finished 19th – his best result of the West Coast swing. He is now excited for this weekend’s event and to top last year, when he finished a career-best seventh in the 360 Knoxville Nationals finale.
For live updates of Bruce Jr. and the rest of the excitement from the pits to the track at the 360 Knoxville Nationals, check out www.insidelinepromotions.com each night.
QUICK RESULTS –
July 29 – Placerville Speedway in Placerville, Calif. – Heat race: 3 (1); B Main: 1 (1); Feature: 21 (17).
July 30 – Placerville Speedway in Placerville, Calif. – Heat race: 5 (4); B Main: 5 (5); Feature: 19 (23).
SEASON STATS –
32 races, 28 features, 1 win, 4 top fives, 13 top 10s, 20 top 15s, 26 top 20s
UP NEXT –
Thursday and Saturday at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, for the 360 Knoxville Nationals
FAVORITE NUMBER –
7: Place at last year’s 360 Knoxville Nationals finale at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, was Bruce Jr.’s best ever.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS –
ON THE AIR –
Bruce Jr. was a featured guest on the ASCS Show by Racinboys on May 24. Check out the link below for his interview, which starts at approximately 44:20 into the show.
He was also on the April 26 edition. Click on the link below to listen to Bruce Jr.’s interview, which begins around the 52:25 mark.
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – Smiley’s Racing Products
Established in 1968, Smiley’s Racing Products offers all parts necessary to operate a race team and is a Hoosier tire dealer. With locations in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, Smiley’s Racing Products is associated with various motor sports teams. For more information, visit www.smileysracing.com.
“We’ve been with Smiley’s Racing Products from Day 1,” Bruce Jr. said. “It has been a long-lasting relationship and there has always been mutual respect on everything. They are the longest partner that we’ve ever had. The first day we bought stuff for my race car we bought it at Smiley’s Racing Products and have been with them ever since.”
Bruce Jr. would like to thank his sponsors, including The Oil Medics, TBJ Promotions, Travelwizer.com, Ticketmob.com, LRB Manufacturing and Hoosier for their continued support.