(MAIN) The pre-race buzz at Toyota Speedway is palpable – more proof that Lucas Oil Slick Mist Super Late Model Series is taking off. (BELOW LEFT) Jason Patison is targeting the winner’s circle. (BOTTOM) The Irwindale track provides great racing and great facilities.
“I like the
involved in them. It takes a lot more
finesse and patience to run competitively
in the Super Late Models. There’s a lot
more power and you have to use that to
your advantage – or be able to not use it
at times to save equipment because
they’re longer races.”
Jason Patison is going the other way
from Johnson. Taking a step back from
running his own team in the K&N Series,
the Lucas Oil Production Studios
employee and driver of the Lucas Oil/
Mav TV Chevrolet is running the series
at his home track.
“They’re fun cars to drive,” he says.
“They have a real wide tread width. The
weight’s low down so they carry a lot of
corner speed. They’re very responsive.”
Patison is looking for his first win,
but he’s been on the pole and the
podium already, so he knows what it
takes to be fast in the series.
“The field’s so tight. Everyone is
qualifying within hundredths of a second,”
he says. “The track’s been around long
enough and the cars are pretty equal. The
key is being consistent and getting the car
where it’s drivable for the race. It’s gotten
so it’s pretty easy to put a good lap down
in qualifying and, with the invert, it
doesn’t always help you. So the key is
being able to run fast laps on old tires at
the end of the race. When we test, we try
to run the old tires. We have to try to imitate a setup that we
think is going to be fast at the end of the race.”
So a driver who learns to race here is well prepared to move
up the ladder. It’s good preparation for a future in stock cars,
whatever that future holds for a driver – career or hobby. It only
makes sense for a grass-roots motorsports supporter like Lucas
Oil to partner with a Super Late Model series, especially one
hosted by one of the premier tracks in the nation.
The 10-race Lucas Oil Slick Mist
Super Late Model Series runs season
long at Toyota Speedway. Upcoming
rounds are July 30, Aug. 13, Sept. 10
and Oct. 1 – all dates are Saturdays.
WATCH IT, EXPERIENCE IT
When it was built in 1999, the half-mile track now
known as Toyota Speedway was a bit of an anomaly.
A temple of speed with butter-smooth asphalt and
suites high above the grandstands, it was unlike
most any other track dedicated to Saturday night
local racing. While the facility on the outskirts of
metropolitan Los Angeles and not far from Lucas Oil’s
headquarters in Corona, Calif., hosts some big events
such as the Toyota NASCAR All-Star Showdown and
the Turkey Night Grand Prix, it’s the Saturday night
racing that has put Irwindale on the map.
That includes series such as the Lucas Oil Slick
Mist Super Late Models, which race only at Toyota
Speedway, and the Lucas Oil Modifieds, which make a
couple of stops there each year. Racing at the track
is attractive enough that transplanted Californian
Kevin Thompson, now living in Conroe, Texas, returns
to race in Super Late Models once a month.
“It’s a sophisticated track, the people are good and
I’ve got a long relationship with them. I’ve been racing
there so long, it’s worth [the travel] to me,” he says.
The track also hosts drag racing on an eighth-mile
strip, giving enthusiasts a place to race their cars
away from the streets. And since it hosted the first
D1 Grand Prix drifting event off Japanese soil in
2003, it’s become known as the House of Drift
to fans of that sport, and now hosts grass-roots
drifting events in addition to the Formula D finale.
Providing a home for everything from kids in
Bandoleros to NASCAR stars, the track filled a big
hole in the Southern California racing scene when
it came online. And with it being just down the
road, it makes a great place for Lucas Oil to
showcase its passion for motorsports.
Toyota Speedway is a great host for
Lucas Oil Slick Mist Super Late Models