ASA LEFTOVERS: ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY by Jeremy Troiano
Steve Dale Talks, Sorenson & Middleton's Crews Clash, Stevens Back
STEVE DALE TALKS AT ATLANTA
Series owner Steve Dale has been under plenty of fire dating all the way back to June’s race at Berlin when the financial problems of the series started to surface. Since then, Dale has been hit-and-miss at the race track, which has also drawn a lot of fire from drivers, owners and teams alike.
However, the embattled owner showed up at Atlanta for the season finale and addressed the teams during a Wednesday night meeting. Dale was also seen walking through the pits on Thursday and Friday, talking with drivers and owners.
Following the race on Friday night, Dale spoke with our Bob Dillner in Victory Lane.
“We are going to enjoy tonight and then we are going to go to work to try and figure out what we are going to do,” said Dale. “It’s tough. We can’t do next year what we did this year and we all know that. We are going to have to find a permanent solution and then move on. We are going to have to do this quickly because others are going to have to make their decisions based on that.
Steve Dale watches Kevin Cywinski and his crew celebrate their second straight championship. (51 Photos)
pass for the lead when Middleton moved up the track. The contact between Middleton and Smith sent Middleton spinning and into the wall. As Smith slowed up, Sorenson got into the back of Smith, putting him in the wall as well. Both Middleton and Smith were done for the night, while Sorenson continued on, but three laps down and out of the championship points race.
“Man we had a good car,” said a disappointed Middleton after the race. “Coming off two I had a good run. I couldn’t see a whole lot out of my mirror. They (Smith and Sorenson) got a run on me and ran straight into the back of the car. Other than that, I don’t know. There was nothing for me to do. They had the rear tires (of my car) off the car off the ground.”
Sorenson blamed Middleton for the wreck.
“I don’t know what happened. I guess it was the same thing when (Middleton) clipped Marc Mitchell at Jennerstown (PA). He’s an idiot. I don’t know. He’s done a lot of stupid stuff all year long.
“I was following Casey because it’s like a Talladega deal where you just fall inline. It looked like Casey got a run on the outside of the 74 (Middleton) and the 74 just cut him off. I don’t know. He is just an idiot. I hope I don’t have to race with him again.”
“I didn’t move up,” said Middleton. “Maybe from where Reed was looking, he thought Casey had the outside. There wasn’t enough room out there for a car to fit. I was driving in a straight when they ran into the back of me. I wasn’t all the way against the wall, but I wasn’t three or four feet off of it.
“I talked to Casey in the ambulance and he said Reed was
pushing him. Reed has been a little too aggressive on these big tracks and he took out a bunch of good cars here. I think he wrecked himself too. He’s got a lot to learn.”
The bad blood between the two boiled over in the garage area after the race when Sorenson’s crew and Middleton’s crew got into a verbal shouting match which eventually boiled over into a full-fledged fight. A couple members of Marc Mitchell’s crew got involved in the fight as well.
The scrum was eventually broken up by track officials and police officers. Several crew members were warned and threats of arrests were made to several members of both crews, but as an hour after the race, none had been made. Officers continued to roam the garage as verbal arguments continued between the crews well into the evening.
Reed said Middleton took him out of the race and ended his shot for the championship. (51 Photo)
“My guys put their heart into this deal,” said Sorenson of the fight afterwards. “We’ve had our bad times this year then we got a chance for this championship deal. He screwed it all over for everyone. This team is dominant and he is someone who is not even in the top-20. That was pretty selfish of him.
“Everyone passed back and forth and someone tries to pass him and he wrecks them. I guess that is the way he wants to race.
“My guys worked really hard. When you have volunteer help and you are running to win since it isn’t for the money, and something like that happens, it is just a knife in the back. Emotions run high.”
Smith's car came in on the rollback following the accident. (51 Photo)
Middleton and Sorenson were not involved in the post-race incident.
SMITH REACTS AFTER ACCIDENT WHILE GOING FOR THE LEAD
Casey Smith was a big part of the Middleton-Sorenson accident as well. Smith, who started 11th, moved his way up to the front and appeared to be one of the fastest cars on the track, along with Sorenson, when he made a move to take the top spot away from Middleton on lap 28 with the drafting help of Sorenson.
“We had Rookie of the Year won if we could have just led a lap there and finished up front in the top few,” said Smith. “I was moving all around trying to get around (Middleton) on the backstretch and he was doing everything he needed to do to block me. When we came off of two, I had a run on him so he gave me the high line and then he moved up. So I went low and he moved low so I went back high. I really wasn’t trying to pass him at that point, I was just trying to stop from wrecking him. When he moved back high I was already on the outside of him. Reed was bump-drafting with me and once he turned into the fence, Reed got into me and turned me sideways.
“I will go on the record and say that in the next 30 days, I need to make it all come together or be on the beach. It is about that simple for me.”
There have been plenty of rumors and speculation since the problems surfaced in Berlin and even more since the series had its equipment seized by Lowe’s Motor Speedway officials. Many have concerned possible buyers or partners in the series.
“There have been a number of things going on but nothing that I can announce,” added Dale. “We are hopeful yet that something will happen. I’ve put everything I got emotionally, as much as anything, and it’s been tough.
“I’ve learned a lot from the standpoint of when you are on top, you are on top and when you get on the bottom, people will kick you all over the place. That has been a little hard; something I’m not used to.
“It’s my responsibility to make the series be the series the needs to be for the competitors, owners and fans. I want to do it, but if I feel I can’t or the things that we need to make the series be what it needs to be don’t come together for us, we’ll make that decision. We’ll make it and move on.”
MIDDLETON & SORENSON CREWS DUKE IN OUT AFTER WRECK
The action on track resulted in extra-curricular activity off the track on Friday night.
The crews of Reed Sorenson and Jay Middleton got into a fracas at the conclusion of the event in the garage area, the result of an on-track incident that took out Middleton and Casey Smith and knocked Sorenson out of the chase for the ASA Championship.
It started on lap 28 when Middleton, Smith and Sorenson were battling for the top spot. It appeared that Smith, with Sorenson’s drafting help, had a run on Middleton coming off of turn two. Smith moved to the outside while trying to
Jay Middleton (#74) and Kyle Krisiloff (#06) were the subject of some post-race activity at Atlanta. (Bob Milner Photo)
“He was doing what he had to do. I talked to him afterwards and he was just frustrated. He knows what happened. His spotter should have told him I was out there. My nose was there to his bumper cover. At this kind of place, that is enough to have the position because you can’t just back out of it or you’ll get run over.
“We had an awesome car. It was the best car of the year I think.”
The accident took Smith out of the running for the race and the Rookie of the Year shot.
“It’s a shame because we went all year without wrecking a car in a race and these last two races have been total heck with us. I really wanted to do good here in front of everyone. I know it wasn’t my fault so that is the main thing. I hope other people saw that too.
“It was awesome to run that well. I think Reed was a little better than me but that is all. It was awesome. Joe Shear was on the radio with me and he was just coaching me along there.
“To have a car that good though and end up like that sucks though.”
STEVENS RETURN TO THE TRACK SHORT LIVED
Not many people in the ASA garage area weren’t happy to see Doug Stevens return to the track at Atlanta.
The Georgia native was seriously injured in an accident during qualifying at the first Kentucky Speedway event and hadn’t been back in a race car since.
Smith was very disappointed with the way his season ended. (51 Photo)
Atlanta was his first race back. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.
“I was just going through one and two over there and someone got in the back of me there,” said Stevens, who was taken out in an accident on lap 21. “It is unfortunate. The car was good too. We were just out there being patient and trying to be careful. I let some cars go to try and be patient but I guess I shouldn’t have and I just should have went.
Doug Stevens returned to the series, but it was short lived. (51 Photo)
“It is crazy for these guys to be racing this hard this year.”
Stevens finished 37th.
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