No Racing, Just Rain, Pope & Darnell Team Up, Expensive Test Session

Maybe NASCAR officials are going to have to rethink adding Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) back to the Southeast Series schedule for the 2005 season.  Rain once again forced a postponement of events at “the Beach” on Saturday night.  It marked the second-straight year that the Southeast Series has visited the famed track and been rained out. 
In 2003, the SES event at Myrtle Beach was postponed twice by rain before finally getting the race in the third time around.  Series officials hope that won't be the case in 2004.

When the Southeast cars do return to the track on August 7th, they will be locked into their starting positions, which was determined by the point standings. 

Rain was present in Myrtle Beach most of the day and came just as the cars were getting ready for practice in the early afternoon.  When the rain finally let up, the time allotted for qualifying was used as a brief, 45-minute practice session.
The Myrtle Beach Speedway regular classes ran their features first and got them in before the SES cars lined up on the front stretch.  Just as the drivers strapped in and pulled off for their pace laps, the rain started to fall.

The cars ran about 15 pace laps before officials put out the red flag.  After some waiting, NASCAR called the event and sent everyone home.

When the raced was originally announced to be rescheduled, NASCAR officials said it would be made up on August 21st.  But officials later changed the make up date in and issued a press release saying the race would now be made up August 7th.

For both Erik Darnell and Jeff Fultz, this change probably came as a relief, as both were planning to head up to Brainerd, MN on August 22nd for the Midwest Series race at Brainerd's road course.

The new date will effect Jason Hogan, JR Norris and any other competitors that might have been looking at running with the Southern All Star Series at Lanier National Speedway during the “Saturday of Speed 350,” that was to
Robert Richardson gets a little loose during practice at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Saturday.  (51 Photos)
feature the SAS Super Late Models, Pro Late Models (two-barrel carbs) and Pro Late Model Trucks.


Greg Pope, one of the nicest guys in the NASCAR Southeast Series, suffered through some bad luck Saturday at the track, but with a little help from his friends, was able to fight through all the troubles.

Pope's motor let go during the brief practice session, forcing the team into a bad situation.  With no spare motor and Pope seventh in the series point standings, the Darnell Motorsports Team stepped up and offered Pope their backup engine to use for the race.  Even more impressive was the engine that the Darnell team offered up was to be the backup engine should they need it at the Midwest Series race on Sunday in Mansfield, OH.
If Jeff Fultz is still planning to hit the road course in Minnesota, the August 7th makeup date works for him.
“Our motor must have broke a piston or something,” said Pope with a smile after the rainout.  “(The Darnell team) told us that we could borrow a motor if we needed it.  So, with their help, we changed it and just got it done before the cars went out for their pace laps.  We didn't have much time to get it done.  We really only got it done thanks to everyone's help.  I think it took us about an hour and 10 minutes to do.”

Pope's crew (all three of them) and the rest of the helpers were still working on the car as all the other drivers were buckled in and ready to head out for their pace laps.  Pope had to have the car out on track for the pace laps so that he would be guaranteed a starting spot if and when the rains came.
Jason Hogan said he never touched Skillman.
Several members of the Darnell crew, along with a couple members of Jeff Fultz's team and others were all helping Pope make the change.

“It is wonderful,” said an emotional Pope of the Darnell team's generosity.  “These guys... what can you say... they are great.  I don't know what to say.  People like that make racing with this group unbelievable.  I just don't know what to say.”

As if the weekend was going to be complicated and hurried enough for Erik Darnell as it was, with racing back-to-back days in the Southeast and Midwest Series, the rains came and washed everything away on Saturday night. 

Darnell was scheduled to hit the road as soon as the event ended at Myrtle Beach, sleep in the van and arive at Mansfield, OH for the Midwest Series race on Sunday, where Darnell is 11th in the points despite missing one event earlier this year.

However, Darnell said Saturday's rainout was actually a blessing.

“This rain out is actually going to make (tomorrow's race) it a little easier now because we are not going to be as late getting up there (to Mansfield, OH) now.  We have some guys that are taking our other car to Ohio and we will just met them there.  So even though I would have liked to race because our car was pretty good in practice, it will be nice not to be as rushed now.”
Erik Darnell just warmed up for his day at Mansfield on Sunday.

While most people probably wasn't real happy to head all the way to Myrtle Beach Speedway for a 45 minute practice session, one guy who looked at it with open eyes and little doubt was that of Texas racer Chris Davidson.
“I don't view this trip as a total waste,” said Davidson.  “In the brief practice session we got, we made a lot of changes to the car and figured out a lot of things that we needed to figure out.  We changed a whole bunch of things around on the car, I mean drastic changes, and it was exactly what we were looking for.

“This is the best short track car I've sat in since Houston (TX).  We've really struggled on the setup and the ability to get our cars right on the short tracks as of late.  Something has just been wrong with the cars.
Chris Davidson (#41) used the Myrtle Beach trip for a test session.
“If we wouldn't have gotten on the track today, this would have been a totally wasted trip.  But what we did accomplish was much needed, so I just look at it as a long, expensive test session.”


Wayne Bowen, who suffered a violent and big-time accident at Caraway Speedway last week that destroyed his one and only car was at Myrtle Beach Speedway Saturday night with another car, but one that he had been struggling with all afternoon.
Greg Pope (black driving suit) and several members of Erik Darnell's crew work to replace his engine before the race.
“We purchased one of AJ Frank's cars to replace ours that got wrecked,” said Bowen, who is eighth in the points standings.  “I was actually happy to see the rain because we'd been trashing all day on this car just trying to get it how we want it.  We just couldn't get some things figured out in the limited time we had.

“Now, I have more time to work on the car and take it to a local track and shake it down and get it how I want it so I can come back and be ready with it.”

Wayne Bowen is now using one of AJ Franks old cars while his only car gets repaired.
There were 22 cars set to make the start of Saturday night's show with most of the regulars and a few stragglers.

Wayne Anderson was again on hand in Eddie Mercer's #72, as was Randy Gentry in the #08.