Greg Stanfield and his MAVTV/Lucas Oil Chevy Camaro team, otherwise known as the little team that could, had a stellar performance in the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Stanfield's three-man crew - himself, brother Mike and Mike Stryker - helped lead Stanfield to a semifinal appearance in the season-opening Pro Stock race. There, only a few inches separated Stanfield from another final round at Pomona.
Stanfield left first on noted starting-line specialist Vincent Nobile and then made his best pass of the day, 6.588 seconds at 209.75 mph. Stanfield was ahead most of the way, but Nobile ran 6.575 seconds at 210.34 mph and nipped Stanfield by .022 seconds, about 8 inches.
"That was close," Stanfield said. "He's a good racer, so you've got to be up on the wheel. I was trying for a better light than that, but we came up just a little short. I knew it was going to be inches, right where he was at. We just need a little more power."
Still, Stanfield was pleased with his team's showing at Pomona, which included a No. 9 qualifying spot, a first-round win over four-time champion Greg Anderson and a second-round victory over Chris McGaha.
"All in all, a good day for us," Stanfield said. "Being a small team here, it was a pretty good thrash for us to keep it going between rounds. I'm happy with the outcome. It's an improvement over what we've been doing."
Stanfield, who left the line first in all three elimination rounds Sunday, started the day with a 6.599-second pass at 209.56 mph to beat Anderson's run of 6.686 at 208.88 mph. Stanfield then made a run of 6.616 seconds at 208.68 mph to beat McGaha's slowing pass of 11.652 seconds at 76.47 mph.
Stanfield's Chevy Camaro was fast and well-prepared each round, a testimony to the dedication and skill of his three-man crew.
"We're the little choo-choo train," Stanfield said. "Sometimes we get stuck, but other times we get it going."
Sunday, they clearly had it going.
"My brother and Stryker have worked together a lot of years," Stanfield said. "Everybody is experienced in doing what they're doing. We can all do multiple jobs, so we can rotate if one of us needs to do something else. That's a good asset. We're not just set on doing just one thing. That's probably why it works well for us. But it makes it hectic sometimes. I'll sleep well tonight, for sure."
And he'll go to sleep with a smile on his face.
"I'm happy," Stanfield said. "I've got to thank Forrest Lucas, J.D. and Teresa (Coffman), Greg Hill, everyone who's helped me. Without them, I wouldn't be here, trust me. I'm enjoying it."