Michael Beard Guest Editorial
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
First off, let me begin by saying that it is a tremendous honor to be offered the opportunity to share some of my views and thought process with the TIBR family. My background includes a minor in Educational Psychology, which I applied to starting my Guide to Bracket Racing on my website, StagingLight.com, when I was in college… which is now more years ago than I’d like to admit. That background gives me a particular appreciation for Bogacki’s approach to the sport. When I first started reading his tutorials, I grinned as I saw him start to explain linear interpolation (er… run completion), and I worked out the numbers my way before reading any further, only to find out that he approached the problem the same way that I have for so long, and with the same results.
Breaking It Down
Don’t just take in the information and try to apply it. More than anything else, think about everything you learn, and try to make the next mental leap yourself. Just as important, I believe, is to not get stuck in absolutes. Too often, I hear words like “you can’t…” or “you have to…” While there are certain undeniable basics, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everything. It is up to each racer to take in everything, and determine what works for his or her own program. At the same time, it is important to understand all kinds of concepts, even if you don’t use them, because your opponents might.
So much of what we learn seems obvious after the fact. I drove a stint in a Super Stock car for Texarkana-based engine builder Adger Smith, and he left me with a light-bulb illuminating statement that was intended for the physical construction of a Super Stocker, but every racer needs to apply to driving.
He said, “You take every part, and break it down into its smallest component piece, and ask yourself, ‘How do I make that piece better?’”
A great deal of information on TIBR has covered top-end racing strategy, and it’s been covered well. I have my own thoughts on it as well, but first let’s not forget where the race physically begins: the starting line. If you cannot hit the tree consistently, all the top-end tactics in the world will not save you. I’m not a delay box or even a No-Box (transbrake) racer, so I’ll leave that in someone else’s capable hands. Much of the following may apply to those other types of bracket racing, but my comments are going to focus on footbraking. Luke has covered the basics of the physical makeup of the starting line, so I’ll try not to rehash too much of it.
Where the Race Physically Begins
Racers generally agree that there is a sweet spot for them on the tree. Every driver is a little different, but generally speaking, there is one “best” setup for a particular driver, in a particular car, at a particular track, where a simple instinct reaction to the Christmas Tree yields the best and most consistent reaction times. The problem is defined by the bracket racer’s bane: variables.
First, let’s consider a common type of driver: one who drives the same car at the same track all the time. While this Joe Racer has fewer variables to deal with than most, it’s still important to understand the stumbling blocks that can present themselves. Even if we assume that Joe Racer has found that perfect spot on the tree for his car, at his home track, what kind of pitfalls might he encounter?
Lights and Lighting
First, there may be a physical difference in the rollout from lane to lane (See Bogacki’s Tutorial #4 subsection on Lane Discrepancy). What else can affect a driver’s reaction time? Consider the position of the sun at different times of the day. If you are staring into the sun, the overpowering glare may make it difficult to see the bulbs come on and result in slower reaction times. Likewise, if the sun sets behind the starting line, the sun may shine directly on the bulbs in one lane, dimming their brightness significantly. Meanwhile, in the other lane, the tree blinder may cast a shadow over the bulbs, allowing you to pick up the bulb quicker. Along the same line, when night racing, be sure to note how the track lighting affects the tree. Many tracks only have lights on one side of the track, so you may see a “daytime” bulb in one lane while the other is immersed in a black hole.
Track lighting may even directly affect the driver. Door cars have sunvisors in them for a reason, but they’re not just for blocking the sun. At some facilities, track lights can glare harshly in your side window, but your sunvisor can often eliminate that problem. You may also find downtrack lighting aligning behind or beside the Tree as well. This can sometimes be rectified with the sunvisor, or simply moving your head to one side to use the tree to block out the offending background light. Just be aware of what you are going to see in each lane at a given time of day or night, and be able to adapt or overcome accordingly. I actually use my sunvisor in almost any light condition. It’s typically in my side window, even in the middle of the day, when it’s not blocking the sun or track lights. It darkens the cockpit a little bit, and helps focus attention toward the tree, without blocking the view of my opponent’s car.
The Eyes Have It
There’s light from one other source that we haven’t touched on, and yet it’s the most important one: the Tree itself! Remember, break down the component parts… The bulbs on the tree may be the same in each lane, and they emit the same amount of light, so how are they variables? The key word here is “emit”. If the bulbs emit a consistent amount of light, what receives that light? Our eyes. Everyone has a dominant eye, and as we get older, the difference in our eyesight from one eye to another may start to make a difference in what we perceive from lane to lane, particularly in a door car, where the drive is seated farther away from the tree in the left lane than in the right.
Our host, Luke Bogacki, weighed in on this as well. “I actually lose roughly .015 when I close one eye. I picked that up years ago, and I've blocked the other side of the tree for as long as I can remember (which forces me to close one eye). But I do that every round (whether it's a close spot or not), just to remind me to keep that eye closed. By doing that, I just take away that .015 variable (from blocking one round and not the next). I'm right eye dominant, so I always close my left. But, in the instance I'm at a super loose track, I have tried to not block and open both eyes to get the extra .015,” stated Bogacki.
Just last year, I met two different drivers in as many weeks who both experienced problems with reaction times (one footbraker and one box racer). Each turned out to have the same problem: They were near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other! Until diagnosing and correcting their eyesight problems, the footbraker was inconsistent at all times, but interestingly, the box racer was fine during the day, but his lights were erratic at night. Do NOT take your eyesight for granted. Most people who need corrective lenses don’t realize it until after they get them… and if you never have your eyes checked, you may never know what you are missing, literally!
Even though we have an example of one driver in one car at one track, that combination’s effective rollout can change during the course of the season. Cars typically run slower in the middle of the summer than they do in the cool spring and fall conditions. Seems obvious, right? Cars make more horsepower in better air, and that translates into not only quicker E.T.’s and speeds, and quicker 60’ times, but also in how long it takes your car to move out of the Stage beam. We’re not talking huge numbers, obviously, but in a sport where winners are routinely determined by thousandths of a second, it’s worth noting every little bit.
Those changes are something that you may not notice because they happen so gradually during the course of the year, but just last year I experienced a day-to-day weather change so drastic that it actually took my comfortable double-oh and teen spot and turned some of them red! The air improved dramatically, and while the quicker E.T.’s and speeds were obvious to all, closer inspection revealed much better 60’ times, and with it, reaction times.
Taking it on the Road
That’s all pretty basic stuff, but what happens when we take Joe Racer and his perfected combination out of his element? Increasingly, racers attend events at a variety of different facilities, and that means more variables. What’s different from track to track?
The most obvious difference between tracks are the things we can readily see: the type of bulbs on the tree, the distance of the tree from the starting line, the height of the tree, the rollout (for shallow stagers, the height of the Stage beam, and for Deep Stagers, the distance between the Pre-Stage and Stage beams), and even the position of the sun and track lights as we just discussed. (While you’re noting these things, study the width of the track as well, from groove to groove, as this comes into play in top-end tactics. If we don’t get to that in this article, feel free to ask later!)
Baselining Tracks and Timing Systems
What you can’t see can affect you. Again, break down the component parts. Look closer at the Tree. Doesn’t look any different than any other Tree? Look again! Down the center column of most Trees is an identification of the timing system in use. It will also likely be noted on your time slip. So? What’s the timing system got to do with reaction time?
Most tracks set their physical rollout according to the guidelines of the sanctioning body, yet the effective rollout can still differ significantly. While I do not have definitive evidence of the differences, I’ve raced at well over 50 different tracks, enough to experience the effects even if I can’t pinpoint the reasons why. I suspect that the primary difference may lie in the sensors themselves, either in the quality of the sensor, or in its adjustment (The sensitivity of the sensors can be adjusted, effectively created a “wide” beam or a more focused “narrow” beam). Whatever the case, my on-track experience at a large number of tracks have brought me to the following general conclusions: Considering Compulink as a baseline, I have found the rollout at Accutime tracks to be as much as .02 quicker or “tighter”, and the majority of TSI systems to be .02 slower or “looser”. Again, this is just a generality, as I have seen a couple of tight or average rollout TSI’s, but they are more the exception than the rule. Along the same line, I’ve also recently experienced an extraordinarily tight Compulink. So, arm yourself with information, while taking it all with a grain of salt.
When you go to a new track for the first time, you need to know and trust yourself and your car. Just as Bogacki explained detecting lane discrepancies, you need to be able to feel out a new track. If the reaction time on the scoreboard is not what you expected it to be, you must determine what the source of that discrepancy is, whether it be you, the car, or the track. The first time I ever ran at Grand Bend Motorplex in Canada, I knew that they used a Compulink system and it was an IHRA National Event, so it was reasonable to assume that the rollout would be similar to other such setups. At the head of the staging lanes, all suited up and belted in, just before pulling into the burnout box, I pulled out my Biondo Pocket Tree, and hit it several times with my “typical” rollout. .013, .011, .012, .012 on the practice tree… and hit an .012 on the track seconds later, verifying the rollout.
That was an easy example, but in a case where your result doesn’t match your hypothesis, you need to determine the cause and amount of the variable, and be able to quickly adapt, particularly since many events these days only afford two time trials. When you roll into an Accutime track for the first time and turn it -.013 red, you have to be able to recognize it for what it is. Or worse, if you “miss it” and still go .001 on your first hit, you dare smile at the happy accident, but again, you have to recognize it for what it is. You must figure out how much you missed it by and adjust accordingly, or you’ll get lost and spend all weekend trying to find another green light.
Keep notes on the tracks that you visit, and try to tap into the knowledge of other racers who have experience at both the new track and tracks that you have in common. It can be very rewarding to do your research and make the proper adjustments in advance of ever turning a tire in unfamiliar surroundings. I’ll give you two more anecdotal examples:
Early in the history of LED bulbs, some tracks were still in a transitional period. While attending a Divisional race at Pittsburgh Raceway Park, we ran the local program’s Friday night bracket race on incandescent bulbs, and then contested the Divisional race on LED’s. Running two different types of bulbs in the same weekend at the same track allowed us to verify for ourselves that there was a good .03 difference in effective rollout between them. Things got very interesting when the old system had a problem with the LED bulbs on a Full Tree, so we ended up switching to incandescent bulbs in the third round of eliminations! While some drivers were unsuspectingly late, and others second guessed what themselves, knowledge empowered some drivers to make substantial changes to their cars to overcome the rollout change, without fearing going red.
Sometimes we don’t get to experience comparisons so close together, but it’s still important to trust yourself and draw logical conclusions. For the inaugural year of the World Footbrake Challenge, I had the honor of announcing. It was a three-day event at Bristol Dragway, a track I had never been to before. From my glass cubicle, I witnessed one big name after another struggle with the tree. Even by the second day of the event, racers were still trying to adapt. Multi-time champion Richard Alford started deep staging, and Stock World Champ Lee Zane started deep staging on the third day. Eventual $50K winner Scotty Richardson threw up a bevy of .04x bulbs in the first four rounds and got away with it, before finally homing in on the tree. Those .04x lights were common among the hitters, leading me to believe that the rollout was as easily .030 loose. Those who adapted the quickest walked away with the cash, while literally hundreds of racers stayed mired in the loose rollout for the entire weekend.
At the WFC II, I had a chance to compete at the event, and I smugly shared the secret I had learned with a select few. I set my car up for as quick of a reaction time as I could… and that grin quickly turned into a grimace, as my first run left me starting at a massively red -.027. I have no doubt that the track was as loose as it appeared the year before, but before I pulled second gear, I also had no doubt that it had changed just as dramatically. It was slightly comforting that others must’ve figured on the same thing, as a massive percentage of the first round of time trials were red lights!
Adapt and Overcome
NOW, then! Once you’ve postulated a difference in rollout, how do you compensate for it? The job for footbrakers isn’t as easy as juggling a few digits in a delay box. The goal is to make the necessary adjustments to the car to bring the rollout back to the driver’s preferred spot. It is very important to note that what follows is a toolbox of rollout changing techniques based on my own experiences. Different drivers and their cars may find varying amounts of correlations in each variable. This can be the result of how a driver looks at the tree, how he chooses to react to it (ie., blocking, reacting to the flash, or counting), and how his brain processes those signals. The same holds true for vehicles, which leave the staging beam subject to a massive number of variables. The most important thing to realize is that all of these variables and tools exist!
Tires, Tires, Tires
The most obvious and typical way to change a shallow-staged car’s rollout is with tires. Air pressure changes can affect your reaction times, and that includes both the front and rear tires. Changing the air pressure in front tires will yield different results depending on the amount of change, what the starting point pressure was, and the construction of the tire’s sidewall.
The Stage beam is typically about 1-5/8” off the ground, so you can measure the physical rollout of your front tire. Measure up 1-5/8” on the tire at both the front and back of the tire, and measure how much tire the Stage beam will “see”. The lower the air pressure, the more the tire will flatten at the bottom, thereby increasing that distance, and thus, your rollout. Conversely, the more air you put in the tire, the more round it will become near the ground, thereby reducing how much tire the Stage beam can see. Keep in mind, however, that at high pressures, the sidewall of the tire is not going to change much… you can’t make a circle any more round! A corollary to this is that the starting point of the tire pressure matters because a 2 psi change from 30 to 28 psi is going to make a bigger difference than 44 to 42 psi. The strength and construction of the sidewall of the tire may dictate how much air pressure change is required to make a difference in how the tire sits near the ground. Consider, too, that a 2 psi swing may have different results in a tiny 23” donut than in a massive 28” frontrunner.
Experimentation with your own equipment is always best! Test and test and test to uncover what it takes to accomplish the desired result for you in your car. In my combination, I have found that in the 30-34 psi range, I could adjust .01 in rollout for a 2 psi change in tire pressure. Again! These are my observations, based on my particular driving style, the size and construction of my front tires, and how the chassis works in my car.
It’s also worth noting that in extreme circumstances, you may even want to try a different size front tire, although it may not yield as big of a change as you might expect. Moving 2” in front tire diameter only netted me about .015 at similar air pressures.
Note that front tire pressure changes are virtually useless to a Deep Stager, as a deep-staged car’s rollout is the distance between the Pre-Staged and Staged beams: much of the front tire is already in front of the Stage beam. If you decrease front tire pressure and increase the “run” of the tire at the height of the Stage beam, the additional distance is still in front of the Stage beam, and your rollout remains the distance between the Pre-Stage and Stage beams. I believe it would take an extreme example to find any kind of significant effect on your rollout by adjusting front tire pressure in a deep-staged car. It would likely have to be a tire run at a very low pressure in a car that was picking the wheel up quickly, like a high-rpm transbrake launch. It’s possible that this combination could provide slower reaction times if the tire is able to “rebound” into its natural shape while it is still in the beams… but again, this is a pretty extreme example. You probably wouldn’t be deep-staging a car that launches that hard and fast in the first place, but it goes back to the notion that you need to experiment with everything, and draw your own conclusions.
When trying to adjust reaction times, don’t discount your rear tires! While some sensitive chassis combinations may not appreciate excessive changes to the slicks, there is still a broad operating window for many cars. As a side note, everyone knows that too much tire pressure can result in spin, but many bracket racers run their tires much lower than they have to as well. In fact, if you run a bias ply tire too low on air pressure, the sidewall may wrinkle excessively, and the tire may actually “overrun” itself, and unload the chassis. Between those two extremes, however, lies a great reaction time tuning device. The less air you run in the slicks, the more they will wrinkle, and that’s time the tire is spending wrapping up instead of pushing you forward. Conversely, more air pressure means less wrinkle, and given traction, means quicker forward motion. Depending on the size of the tire and starting point of its air pressure, bias plys can yield a measurable difference in reaction times with even half a psi change, so it is crucial to maintain consistent tire pressures. Even radials wrinkle, albeit to a much lesser extent than bias plys. By going from 17 to 19 psi in my 33x9” M/T radials, I can still squeeze out a little reaction time advantage.
Adjustable shocks can play a roll in adjusting reaction times (as can leaf spring vs ladder bar vs 4-link suspensions), but I recommend experimenting with your particular combination to find how it affects your car. Common knowledge suggests that a looser front shock setting results in more front end travel and thus a slower reaction time, however, I’ve also seen cars that work so much better with a loose front end that the car still ends up reacting quicker. It is likely that the latter is a car going from “driving out of the beam” to picking the wheels up out of the beam.
Staging and Launch RPM
Staging RPM is another easy and obvious available adjustment. Like tire pressure, however, there is the law of diminishing returns. Changing your launch RPM from 1,500 to 2,000 may result in a much bigger swing in reaction time than going from 3,200 to 3,700, dependent on your converter, as well as your chassis setup, should the car hit the tires differently. Sometimes RPM can be counterintuitive as well, as a driver may need to use more brake pressure to hold a higher RPM on the starting line. In this case, it may take more time for the driver to pull his foot off the brake, and for the brakes to release, nullifying the potential advantage of standing on the converter. As with everything else, experience is going to be your best indicator.
Bogacki cleanly explained staging the car consistently in his Tutorial #2. He discussed staging the car laterally (moving to the left or right out of the groove), but be aware that staging the car straight down the track is important, too. While this seems obvious, I still see cars staged crooked from time to time. By staging the car at an angle, you are offsetting the front tires in the beams, effectively increasing your rollout. This will result in slower reaction times and quicker E.T.’s. There have been times when I have staged the car crooked on purpose, for several different reasons. (some people may already know why, but we’ll leave that one for a later discussion). Just be aware of what to expect if you do pull such a stunt, or if you realize that you’ve done it by accident, and adjust accordingly.
When All Else Fails
What if you’ve done everything, and you still can’t hit the tree? You’re in that no-man’s land where you’re stuck in the .040’s when shallow staged, and red when deep-staged?
For the deep-stager, front tire adjustability is not an option, so you’re typically looking at low-RPM launches, lots of travel, and low tire pressure in the slicks. Sunglasses can mute the brightness of the bulbs and easily add .010 to your reaction times (although I did find in one instance where sunglasses actually helped my reaction times at a track where I was starting into the sun, as I was not forced to squint so much). Sunglasses can also reduce the glare of the bulbs at night, but you don’t want to wear them for the duration of a run! I wear glasses anyway, so flip-ups were a great solution for me. I could pre-stage, flip them down, stage and launch, and then flip them back up to regain my visibility.
Additionally, a sunvisor or similar blocker can add as much as .030 to your reaction times. Unless a driver is physically “waiting” on the third bulb, even those who claim to be leaving off the flash are likely to be subconsciously anticipating it. Blocking the top two bulbs effectively turns it into a Pro Tree, where no anticipation is possible (glare from the other bulbs bleeding around the blocker notwithstanding). If your rollout yields the same reaction times on both a Full Tree and a Pro Tree, then you are truly “seeing it” and reacting off the flash. If, however, you see a difference between your Full Tree and Pro Tree lights, then you are anticipating it. In this case, blocking will slow your lights in the same manner. A great trick at a practice tree party is to remove the bottom bulb, and continue to hit the same lights. If you can do it, you’re anticipating it, whether you realize it or not.
If Looks Could Kill
So, if you still can’t slow your lights down enough to effectively deep stage, you’re stuck with trying to improve on sub-par shallow-staged reaction times. With all other options exhausted, you’ll either have to count the tree, or change your staging technique. Counting is generally frowned upon as inconsistent, but there are certain cases where it can be used effectively. While there’s a “perfect” sweet spot for a given driver to leave off the flash (or subconsciously anticipated flash), there are actually several sweet spots available that aren’t perfect, but are still usable.
First, a driver can fine-tune his reaction time simply by looking at the tree differently. This was more prevalent in the days of incandescent bulbs, where the bulbs would appear to “fill out” in rings as it went from off to achieving full brightness. A driver would react more quickly by staring at the center of the bulb as compared to its outer edges, which were the last to fill out. Slow cars could watch the second bulb fill out, and then try to react to the outer rings of the bulb fading away.
LED’s have negated much of the driver’s adjustability with this method, but there is still a limited amount of adjustability inherent to staring into the individual LED’s that make up the cluster of the bulb, versus a less-concentrated taking in of the bulb as a whole. Surprisingly, I have found that I can adjust several thousandths even on a hand-held practice tree that contains singular LED’s, by staring into the center of the bulb versus looking at its outer edge.
Counting the tree is not as consistent as leaving off a flash, and leaving at some arbitrary time into the duration of a bulb’s illumination is virtually impossible, there are “spots” at the beginning and end of each bulb’s on/off cycle that are usable visual and rhythmic signals that drivers can use to react to the tree.
Doing the Slide
So, we’re still looking for a less arbitrary and more consistent means of improving our reaction time, and that means adjusting the reaction time of the car rather than the driver. The next place to look is staging technique, and there is more than one option here. Many footbrakers choose to pre-stage, bring the car up to its launch RPM, and then ease off the brake to allow the car to creep forward into the Stage beam, at which point they hold the brake hard once again to stop the car. The advantage of this method is that you don’t have to look at the tach again once you are staged, as your RPM is already set. The downside can be consistency. If your brake setup isn’t perfect, the car will have a tendency to creep forward, stop, creep forward, and stop as you reach tiny high and low spots in the drum or rotor. While you can generally repeat the routine, every once in a while you’re going to have one of those, “Nibble, nibble, nibble, nibble, CHOMP, aw #&^%” moments.
Consider the movement of the chassis when you come up on the converter. You can typically feel the body rise and… strain forward. If you change your slide staging technique to one of bumping in and then coming up on the converter, you can benefit from that slight forward motion of the car as the chassis is pre-loaded. The drawback to this method is that you have a limited amount of time to set your launch RPM before the tree comes down. Considering the fact that we’re trying to make our reaction times quicker, however, it stands to reason that we’re launching at a relatively high RPM. With a loose converter, it’s actually more difficult to stage at a low RPM than a high one. In my Stock Eliminator Volare, the converter flashes to 5,300. You can tach it up to 2,000, 3,000, or 3,500 with no problem, but it’s virtually impossible to hold it steady between 2,500-2,800. Playing around with different combinations of throttle return springs helped me gain the pedal feel that I needed for more fine tuning, but my problems virtually vanished when I started leaving at 3,500. It’s a sweet spot on my converter, where you could be blindfolded with ear plugs, and just stand on the brake and throttle, and you’d be at 3,500.
Doing the Bump
When I first bought my ’80 Volare, I was running tiny 23” frontrunners, and was still leaving just a hair before the second bulb was going out, which is one of those non-existent spots, even when counting. After spending money to make the car physically faster and finding that .040 spot leaving off the flash, I found that changing from the slide staging to the bump technique gave me nearly .020 on the tree , and it also opened up the door to the evil last-ditch adjustment: taking extra bumps. Everyone will tell you that you can’t do it consistently, and Luke correctly warned of how not staging consistently can affect both your reaction time and your E.T.’s. Less than five years ago, I was among those who would’ve told you, “Don’t ever take extra bumps!” Necessity being the mother of invention, however, I had exhausted every other way of making my cursed transverse-torsion bar ’80 Volare get out of its own way.
If you follow a strict staging routine, you can bump consistently. My method is to pre-stage the car, pump the brakes to build some brake pressure, pre-load it to 2,000, and then bump the brake pedal in a quick rhythm. When you’re taking little nibbles from Pre-Stage all the way to the Stage position, you can get into a rhythm where you can make those nibbles consistent ones. If you slid the car from Pre-Stage to Staged, and then took a bump or two, it would be unlikely that you could tell just how big those bumps were, or even if the bumps were the same. If you continue in a singular motion, you can achieve a consistent staging position: bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, Stage, bump, bump. Two extra bumps in my car will get me .010-.015 on the tree, and while it does change your E.T., it’s a very positive tradeoff, where you can gain .015 in reaction time, while only losing .003 or so in your 60’. (As always, “your mileage may vary: Test repeatedly to find out how much your bumps in your car affect both your reaction times and E.T.’s!) So, taking extra bumps is only a bad thing if you (like anything else) don’t execute it consistently, or you fail to take into account all of its effects. If you plan for it, it can be a very effective tool. You can even adjust on the fly by taking an extra nibble to kill a little E.T. before you even leave the line.
There are countless other subjects that I would love to dissect, but I’ve rattled on long enough for this go-round! Take the time to do some discovering for yourself. Remember to break every single problem down to its component parts, look at all the angles, and ask yourself, how do I make that better? Challenge preconceived notions, and find what works for you, and most importantly…
….Whatever else you do, continue to learn.
Michael Beard is a 36-year old graphic designer and owner of StagingLight.com. Beard’s racing accolades include running himself in the finals of the World Footbrake Challenge II Sunday $10K event, and his two Bracket Finals titles (1994 NHRA Div. 1 and 2009 IHRA Div. 2 East), along with the 2003 IHRA Stock World Championship make up just some of his 16 career championship titles. Beard’s racing is supported by Duck Tape brand duct tape, Mickey Thompson, CAM2 Blue Blood Racing Oil, Bearden Oil - Sunoco, K&N Filters, Bradley Auto Parts, Jim Bailey's Finished, Sloan Racing Engines, Macy Motorsports, Billy Nees Race Cars, Staging Light Graphics, teammate Matt Zapp, and his father Stephen Beard.