HAMNER SEALS THE DEAL AFTER CARLSON'S DQ By Matt Kentfield
Young Hotshot Takes Pensacola ASA LM South Win
Before the start of the ASA Late Model Series Southern Division’s Pensacola 100 at Five Flags Speedway (FL) Friday night, the lights along the frontstretch of the half-mile track went dark. Eventually track officials and the local power company got the lights to shine, but Scott Carlson probably wishes they hadn’t.
Carlson’s disqualification fittingly handed the win over to the driver with arguably the fastest car on the track all day Friday. Josh Hamner was two-tenths of a second faster than his next closest competitor in time trials, earning the pole and the win in his first ASA Late Model Series Southern Division race of his career. It took more than an hour in tech to come up with the decision, but Hamner’s car fit the rulebook and Carlson’s, along with others, did not.
Even though Carlson has brought home plenty of race wins in his 30-year career, having to give up his winner’s trophy on Friday night was disappointing, especially after leading all but five laps Friday night. Leaving the racetrack just minutes from his home, Carlson was still scratching his head about having the win taken away.
“I guess they found something on my carburetor," said Carlson. "We don’t try to cheat on a carburetor by any means. A technicality gets me. It’s a technicality on a stock carburetor. I guess different series have different ways of teching carburetors and we got bit tonight.
Josh Hamner (center) celebrates his victory with his parents after being declared the winner (51 Photo).
“We come here in good faith and try to run the race and win it. No one’s intentionally trying to cheat. They could go through the top-10 and throw them all out for some kind of technicality. They need to look at their teching rules if that’s the way it’s going to be. They say it has to be 'box stock.' I don’t build carburetors; I leave that up to the people who build carburetors to give me a legal carburetor. My carburetor probably is legal in 99-percent of the racetracks that run these kinds of carburetors. I don’t know. I’m disappointed, but I feel like I won the race fair and in good faith, but I guess the officials don’t think so.”
ASA President Ron Varney admitted that there was a clear-cut rules violation on Carlson’s carburetor that led to the disqualification.
Scott Carlson's victory was short-lived (Bob Milner Photo).
Maybe without light, ASA officials would not have noticed an illegal carburetor on Carlson’s car.
The veteran was disqualified in post-race technical inspection for an illegal carburetor for the second-straight race at Five Flags. Two weeks ago, Carlson’s carburetor was deemed illegal by Blizzard Series officials on his Super Late Model. Another carburetor issue negated Carlson’s dominating win Friday night in his two-barrel ASA Late Model, while two more drivers who finished in the top-five, fourth-place Bubba Pollard and fifth-place Steven Davis, were also removed from their finishing spots.
“During post-race inspection we noticed an illegal carburetor,” said Varney. “We discovered the problem with the carburetor and we brought him in and showed him exactly what was wrong with it. We do not necessarily tear apart a carburetor pre-race, but we do go through them pretty thoroughly after the race. That’s when we found the illegal part.
“It had had some pretty extensive work to the carburetor. It was something that was professionally done and we don’t allow any performance-enhancing to stock parts. We’re clear on our rules and it was a no-brainer for us.”
If it wasn’t for a lot of respect on the track by Hamner, Carlson may have had a second-place finish taken away instead of the win. With five laps remaining, Hamner jumped ahead of James Buescher for second and started his hunt for Carlson, who has been a friend of Hamner’s family for many years. Hamner looked high and low for several laps before finally getting a run on Carlson going into the first turn on the final lap. Carlson kept Hamner low by squeezing him onto the pit access road between the first and second turns.
front. We raced pretty hard there on that last lap. Josh could’ve beaten me, but I wasn’t going to give it up easily.”
“I got by James when he washed up the track a little bit and my dad got on the radio and told me to go get that #121 car (Carlson),” said Hamner. “I said to myself, ‘I just might win this race.’ We ran off into one and two and I got into the back of him to get under him. Next thing I know I’m running down on the access road. “That’s just hard racing and I had a blast tonight. It was nice to see a local legend, ol’ grandpa Scott Carlson, run up front like that, but we were just as good as him, but we couldn’t get by him on that last corner.”
Even though Hamner wasn’t the first one to the line, he was the happiest one in the pit area after the officials had made their ruling. Considering the heartbreak he felt at Five Flags Speedway almost exactly one year ago, Hamner had every reason to celebrate. In a Pro Late Model feature last May, Hamner led all but the final corner of a 100-lap feature. This time around, even though he wasn’t the first one to the checkers, he left with a feeling of redemption.
Carlson (#121) was chased by James Buescher (#2) for much of the race (Bob Milner photo)
Carlson kept his lead after the break, but Buescher and Pollard were right there on his heels. Hamner was still patiently biding his time and saving his tires for the last run in the fifth position on lap 70. That’s when Hamner went on his tear. He moved all the way up to second on lap 87 and began the pressure on Carlson that lasted to the checkers.
Buescher followed Hamner across the line and was credited with second after Carlson’s disqualification. Pollard and Davis were also thrown out of their top-five finishes, bumping Bo Miller to third. As a result of Jay Middleton’s struggles with a flat tire near the end of the Pensacola 100, Miller leapfrogged to the ASA Late Model Series Southern Division points as the series heads to Hickory, NC, next Saturday night.
Five Flags Speedway, Pensacola, FL
1. 10 138 Josh Hamner-R 100 Running
2. 3 2 James Buescher-R 100 Running
3. 9 38 Bo Miller-R 100 Running
4. 8 15 Colt James-R 100 Running
5. 1 94 Jason Miller-R 100 Running
6. 11 46 Spencer Taylor-R 100 Running
7. 19 51 Sammy McMullen-R 100 Running
8. 13 44 Mike Williamson-R 100 Running
9. 15 18 Hunter Robbins-R 100 Running
10. 6 1 Andy Pugh-R 100 Running
11. 21 119 Dalton Zehr-R 100 Running
12. 20 33 Dillon Oliver-R 100 Running
13. 16 188 David Pollen Jr.-R 100 Running
14. 4 62 Travis Wilson-R 99 Accident
15. 14 74 Jay Middleton 97 Running
16. 5 22 Matt Hawkins 79 Rear End
17. 22 66 Kevin Willis 65 Shock
18. 17 09 John Wes Townley-R 54 Carburetor
19. 18 07 Andrew Weldon-R 36 Accident
20. 23 32 Malcolm Spears-R 35 Accident
21. 24 9 Eric Wallace-R 11 Rear End
DQ. 2 138 Scott Carlson 100 DQ’ed
DQ. 12 26 Bubba Pollard-R 100 DQ’ed
DQ. 4 96 Steven Davis 100 DQ’ed
Hamner's #138 at Pensacola (51 Photo).
Carlson got a run off the second corner and Hamner fell in behind him down the backstretch, but between turns three and four, Hamner put a bumper to the leader, moving Carlson up the track a bit. Instead of jumping to the inside and finishing the move for the lead, Hamner let off and let Carlson regain control. The two raced to the start-finish line but it was Carlson who had the edge at the checkers.
“It was just a last-lap deal,” said Carlson of the hard racing with Hamner in the final laps. “When you’ve got one to go, I’m going to do what I’ve got to do to stay out
“Last year’s race I dominated the whole thing. I remember having such a good car and just cruising around up front and asking my dad what lap we were on. I really had to work for this one tonight.”
After winning the pole, Hamner started 10th after the top-10 qualifiers were inverted. Carlson jumped out to the lead by the first corner, but Buescher would make his way to the top spot on lap 28. It wouldn’t take long for Carlson to regain the lead and held it until the halfway break. ASA officials allowed teams 10 minutes to make changes on their cars at the track that is notorious for eating away tires.