DRIVERS, OWNERS, FANS EMBARASSED BY LANIER RACE by Jeremy Troiano
Many Drivers Say "Choose Rule" Has To Change... Or Go
There is a bit of turmoil in the world of ASA right now. And at Lanier National Speedway on Saturday night it was pretty evident.
First off, it’s never a good sign when people in the grandstands start getting up and leaving. No, they weren't heading to the concession stands or bathrooms, they were heading home only 100 laps into the 250-lap event.
Secondly, one particular ASA team owner, whose team FAILED to make the event, told this reporter that he was GLAD they missed the event so they could go home with a car in one piece and not have to pay to repair it. Yep, a team owner was actually GLAD they missed an event after watching it.
And third, as rookie Joey Miller put it after the race, “Anybody who has a body part left (on their car) or doesn't have a scratch deserves a medal or maybe even the race trophy.”
Yep, things aren't right in ASA land and it was painfully obvious to anyone who watched the race on Saturday night whether in person or on television. It was also obvious to the drivers themselves.
The race was run more under caution than under green. Of a possible 250 laps in the second event of the year, more than 137 (unofficially) were run under the yellow. Add that to the 95 (of 200) that were run under yellow in Lakeland and over half of the ASA season (232 of 450 laps) have been run while the caution lights were on.
What or whom is to blame? Some blame the inexperience; some blame each other, but most fingers point to the now controversial new “choose rule” on restarts. According to the ASA rule, it allows everyone, both lead lap and lapped cars, to choose to start on the inside or outside line during restarts, which are all now double file.
Tim Sauter was very mad after the event.
“This is ridiculous,” said Tim Sauter. “It is nothing but a professional demolition derby. This is crazy. It can't be a good race to watch. It has to be terrible for the fans. I don't' know what they’re trying to prove, but they ain't getting it done. It's a good concept (the choose rule), but there is no give and take out there. It's all cut-throat. You are out there racing for nothing and then you are tearing your sh*t up in the process.
“This series was built on respect and being able to race side-by-side with a guy and race long, green flag runs and figure out strategy. It just isn't that anymore. It isn't even an option. I just can't believe it myself.”
With 32 cars starting on a 3/8-mile track, Lanier was not the best place for the choose rule.
Not all drivers were convinced that the “choose rule” caused all of the cautions in Lakeland (FL), but many pointed the finger that way in Lanier.
“If they don't' change it, I don't' want to race this damn series anymore,” said veteran Chad Wood, standing in front of his beaten and battered car on Saturday night. “This is an absolute joke. I had a good car and showed it at the end. I got turned around for no reason. Going 10 laps under green, if that and then going yellow right away is just stupid. If you are going to have a double-file rule, do it the normal way.
“All of the damage to my car is caused by that stupid rule. You are going to have your bumping and grinding on short tracks, but it is all (pointing to damage) because of the choose rule. Then you got guys that shouldn't be here yet but are. They sent some guys home that I feel completely comfortable racing with home and kept some jokers here.
“It is no fun to race. You just sit there and say ‘alright, is the wreck going to be in front of me, behind me or where?’ There isn't much give and take. When you put guys’ side-by-side every two laps, you are going to have that. It isn't always lapped cars, but a lot of times it is.
Another big complaint concerning choose rule has been that is takes the passing out of the sport. You suddenly don't have to work to gain a bunch of positions anymore, which in turn, allows some guys to get up front who normally wouldn't race their way up there.
“You are getting too many slow cars shuffled up to the front and racing side-by-side, beating and smashing 50 laps in,” said Travis Kittleson who referred to his car's looks as that of a ‘mini stock after its very last race.” “We are the drivers and we are at fault, but we shouldn't be put in that position every five laps.
“You don't' have to reinvent the wheel, but you do have to reinvent a business to make it better, more productive or more interesting or whatever. I believe that we proved to ourselves, to our fans and to the series that we are making ourselves look bad right now.
“I think Steve Dale (ASA owner) is a very smart business man and he sees that we are running the series into the ground by racing like this. I believe that Steve will have this rule changed by Kentucky. Kentucky is one place we don't need to be put in this kind of situation as drivers.”
One anonymous series owner said, out of frustration, that if Dale wants to let everyone choose, “why don't we have all the drivers get out of their cars during cautions, choose which cars they want to race after that, then choose who they want to pit their car and then choose where they want to start the race.”
“I am embarrassed to be here,” said a very vocal Robbie Pyle after the race. “I am embarrassed to race this series. That is what it comes down to.
Travis Kittleson (#30) says things need to change before ASA hits the big tracks.
“I understand Steve is a good businessman and knows he is trying to do what is best, but this isn't it. I know there has to be change, but there has to be something better. This is embarrassing. We don't' look like professionals at all. I have no idea what can be done. All I know is the people who watched this and grew up with the kind of racing I was around have to be in awe by what this is. I don't' know why anyone would want to come out there and race or watch this.”
Pyle had a very fast car and led a good part of the race
Robbie Pyle was one of the most vocal drivers after the race on Saturday.
before coming in to pit, but he was never seen again up near the front of the field.
“We just never got a chance to race. If you picked the right lane, you never got a chance to race. If you picked the wrong lane, you got stuck in the field or kicked back or involved in something. It was just trying to pick the right lane and wait for a couple of laps of caution. You ain't racing anyone. I was under the impression that people wanted to watch a race and that we were racers and wanted to race.”
Another veteran driver, Rick Beebe, was very vocal yet very short on his impressions of the night. Beebe, who is running on a small budget, will not race with the series again until Berlin in June.
“This is a joke. This is an absolute joke. They need to do something about this because this isn't racing. This is just a demolition derby.”
Even race winner Mike Garvey was in disappointed with how things panned out for the series during the race.
“I got out of the car in victory lane and didn't care as much that I won the race as I normally would,” said Garvey. “Yeah it is nice, it is always awesome to win the race, but I'm more relieved that I just finished the race with the car in one piece. What we saw out there tonight isn't how racing is supposed to be.
“It was more important the first half of the race to survive. You just have to be careful and drive defensively rather than offensively. It's turned into a controlled demolition derby out there. People are all over the place. People are bouncing off of each other. It is the craziest thing you've ever seen. If you put a video camera in the car and video taped this, you could sell some tapes. It is just nuts.”
Another point several drivers brought up was the fact that the choosing is suppose to be done at the start/finish line, but on several occasions was done well after the fact on Saturday night with no penalty from officials.
“Guys are crossing over when they aren't suppose to be and
I think it is just too hard to police,” said Kevin Cywinski, the night's pole-sitter, who was another driver that fell victim to being caught in the back of the pack with a fast car and no where to go. “That is frustrating for the driver to see. The drivers are frustrated on the track and they take it out on each other.
“I originally thought (the choose rule) was a good idea. After Lakeland, I thought it needed some kind of revision. It speaks volumes when you have fans that come down after the race to the pits and wonder what is going on and telling you they can't follow the race because they don't know who finished where or who is running where.
“Something needs to change. Whether it to change the rule back to the way we used to do it or do it the way NASCAR does it, we need to change something. We are trying to build this series, not bring it down.”
Sophomore Reed Sorenson agrees with Cywinski.
Notice that race winner Garvey isn't smiling too much for having just won the event.
“You are supposed to commit at the line and people were cheating and moving up down the backstretch. You can get caught behind some lapped cars and you just have to sit there and ride behind them because there is nothing you can do.
“The choose rule is not going to work on these type of race tracks. It's going to breed another caution. You got people that don't belong up at the front. It is not good for people that work hard all night and try to get up front.”
“I can go to a late model show and run more green flag laps than what we did here,” said Davin Scites, who was also a victim of a fast car stuck in the back of the field. “Every lap you go around under caution there is one less lap you can pass someone. They are going to do something about this. They need to speed up the cautions too.
Reed Sorenson was the vicitm of the choose rule when he ran out of laps working his way back to the front.
We are not running enough laps under green here. We pitted with a 100 to go and just had no time to head up front because we were under caution the whole time.”
Rookie Stephen Leicht added this, “We are just glad we made it to the finish with all of the crap that was going on out there tonight. Until ASA fixes this rule, you are not going to see any green flag racing. I think the rule stinks. It is no fun to watch, no fun to race.
“I've never raced anything like this before. If this was a regular weekly show somewhere and they were running (the choose rule), I wouldn't race. “
Veteran and former ASA champ Bryan Reffner agreed, “It seemed like all we were doing out there was dodging another wreck. Seems like we couldn't stay green at all. They need to look at it and see what it going on. No matter what, it isn't a good race.
“I've talked to a couple of drivers who aren't very happy. We should be able to race side-by-side and it doesn't seem like we can. The fans aren't going to come and watch us run under caution for a 100 plus laps. It is just horrible.”
The laid back Joey Miller, who never got mixed up in any of the accidents but was around them all night long, took it in stride and pretty much spoke for everyone.
“It just was a nightmare. I almost wanted to come and pull in a couple of times just to get out of there with a complete car. It's a joke right now. And it is boring. The biggest thing I was worrying about was my foot getting cramped up just cruising around under caution.”