HEMPHILL HORESPOWER & FUEL MILEAGE WINS KY  by Bob Dillner
ARCA Confiscates Fuel Cell During Post-Race Tech
“He ran a good race; he would have won anyway.  To me, as fast as they were, and who they had to race with, I think I would have come in and pitted.  Then they wouldn’t have had all this controversy.”

Billy Venturini, an ARCA regular, is another guy who is looking for his first series win.  He came up just short on Saturday night, but does he feel like that elusive victory was taken away from him?

“Yeah possibly, but what can you do,” sighed Venturini, who finished second.  “I told them, when I get the win, I want to go to my donuts and go to victory lane.  To me, that’s more important than anything else.

“You can’t argue with the system.  I don’t how he made it that far.  I’ll let ARCA question the fuel mileage on the 64.  If he did (have an illegal fuel cell) then we should have won.  But I think we’ve proved to a lot of people that this team, despite being under funded, can run with these Winston (Nextel) Cup teams.  I think that is pretty impressive.”
“They found something; the can was big or something like that.  I’m sure those guys know how to get around the seal-deal.  They’ve got their own seals from the Cup side I am sure.  “

“We pitted on lap 71 and we were marginal.  I couldn’t run as long as the 64-car did,” commented team owner Bob Schacht, whose driver, Passmore, finished fourth.

“You gotta take the rule book and read it and massage it the best you can.  If you get caught like they did then, well, you gotta pay the price.
Ryan Hemphill won the race, but has he won the battle?  The celebration for the Braun Racing team at Kentucky Speedway quickly turned to defending their victory during post-race tech with ARCA officials.
Hemphill was pretty impressive, with or without the alleged “extra” fuel mileage.  He suffered a heartbreaker in Nashville a few weeks ago when a lapped car took him out while leading with a handful of laps to go.

“After Nashville I didn’t know if we were going to get in victory lane or not,” admitted Hemphill.  “I gotta give all the credit to Braun Racing because they gave me an awesome car; even better than the one we had in Nashville.

“Stuff just worked out in our favor tonight,"continued Hemphill.  "You know, we were completely lucky on fuel mileage.  We had to take the gamble because we are not running for points.  We didn’t know if we were going to make it or not and when we took the fuel cell out, it was bone-dry.

“Heck yeah I was nervous.  I knew what our fuel mileage was, but I knew we had a lot of cautions.  I kept saying, ‘Should we come in? 
It was Hemphill's first ARCA win in three starts.  (David Allio Photo)
How 'bout this for an exciting part in the race.  Hemphill leads the way.  (High Sierra Photos)
more fuel; one more lap and we would not have made it.  The cautions really helped us out a lot too.  Look at how many races Ryan Newman (Nextel Cup Series) won on fuel mileage last year; we just got good fuel mileage that’s all.”
Kentucky is known for its horsepower in many different ways, but horsepower does not equate to good fuel mileage.  And on Saturday Ryan Hemphill had both.  He dominated the race by leading 116-laps, but he also went an incredible 77-laps on a tank of fuel.  That is six laps more than his nearest competitor (Christi Passmore) and at least 12-laps more than anyone else in the field.

“It wasn’t fuel mileage that won,” professed Hemphill after the race.  “The fuel cell didn’t win the race; we just had a better car.  We were lucky too because the fuel cell has no
But was it too good?  ARCA officials filled the fuel cell after the race, emptied it and measured how much fuel it held.  On-lookers claimed it held more than the 22-gallons allowed.  ARCA officials did not admit that, but they did confiscate the fuel cell out of the 64-car.
 
“The fuel cell fits the measurements that were meant for it.  It was inspected by our inspectors and it was sealed.  The outside dimensions are right.  What we are uncomfortable with is 77-laps (on a tank of fuel)," stated ARCA President Ron Drager. “So we confiscated the cell and we are taking it back to the office.  We still reserve the right to issue a penalty on that.  We just feel uncomfortable with what we found.

“We want to make sure there are no areas where the team can get an advantage,” added Drager.  “That’s why we confiscated it and that’s why we are going to take a good look at it.  Naturally if we are going to issue any penalties we would speak to the team first.”
“They took it,” Hemphill said.  “I don’ know exactly why or what was wrong with it.  It didn’t fit exactly the way they wanted it to, but it still fit.  So, I think to appease some people they took it which is fine.”

A fine and further penalties is exactly what some ARCA competitors felt will be handed down because everyone we spoke with could not run that far on a normal tank of fuel.

“With the cautions we could run 65-laps, if it went green we could run 55, maybe push it to 58.  We could not have run 80-laps or whatever it was, there is no way,” said Mark Gibson, who finished third.
Hemphill leads Brent Sherman and Ken Weaver during the middle of the race.  (David Allio Photo)
The crew puts in gas during their only pitstop.
Should we come in?’  At one point I said, ‘We need to come in.’  They said, ‘No stay out,’ and I’m glad they overrun me on that because if it wasn’t for that we might not have won the race.”

He might have won the race, but as Bob Schacht points out, it may be with a blemish in the history books.

“I am glad for Ryan because he got his first win, but unfortunately he is going to have that little star by it that is going to say the fuel cell is too big.”



ARCA Photo
UPDATE FROM ARCA on 5/11/04 - Based on post-race technical inspection after Saturday night's Channel 5-205 ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Kentucky Speedway, team owner Eddie Kelley has been fined $1500, and Kelley and driver Ryan Hemphill have been penalized with the loss of 25 championship points. The penalties were issued for violation of ARCA Rulebook page 26, Item 25 B (3), which states in part, "Fuel cell to be secured with no spacers."