CITGO ASA LEFTOVERS: CONCORD by J. Troiano, B. Dillner & M. Dillner
Bickle, Hansen, Zeck Miss Out... Clanton Reacts... Tough Luck St. Amant
Qualifying for the event was cancelled after several days of persistent rains in the Concord area caused water to seep on to the track for much of the afternoon. The resulting delay after delay meant the teams were going to line up by points and several big names (read more below) were going to miss the show. ASA announced the race would not be run without at least one practice session and that was a good call. Series and track officials finally got the problems fixed and the teams got their one and only practice session three hours before the scheduled start of the show.
WATER SEEPAGE LEADS TO BIG MESS
When it rains it pours. This was no more evident than in Concord, North Carolina the few days leading up to The BFGoodrich Tires 250 at Concord Motorsport Park.
BIG NAMES HEAD HOME BEFORE HITTING THE TRACK
The issues at the track on Saturday resulted in several "Big Guns" not making the show. Rich Bickle (driving Chad Wood's back up car, the #42), Scott Hansen (driving the #03) and Ryan Zeck (driving his own #95) were all sent home because they didn't have owner's points from this year. Six drivers in all did not make the race.
Bickle tried to still make the event and Greg Williams' offered to let him use his #10 to make the field with a provisional, but that was disallowed by ASA.
Mike Garvey takes a few test laps on a section of track that was seeping water.
"What can you do about Mother Nature," asked Bickle. "But I am not sure about the other rules; the way they are written. You have a guy who is offering to give us his spot, letting us use his number because he is going to pull in after a few laps since he is using someone else's car this weekend, but they won't let us. They have a whole deal with chassis numbers and this and that; it's a crock. We spent a lot of time on this car. I am here to race. I don't care if I would have to start in the back.
"I've won a lot of races here, probably won 45 or 50 races here; I would have put on a good show. I was ready, just too bad the weather got us."
ASA does have a simple explanation for what happened with Bickle's situation and its one that is found in the rulebook.
"Once a car has been listed in an owner's equipment inventory and presented for tech, it cannot have another number place on it (for that event)," explained Ross Wellman, ASA's Manager of Operations and Communication. "Rich could have jumped in the number-10 car of Williams, but he could not have switched his number because his car had already been presented and cleared through tech."
LESSON LEARNED FOR WEBB
John Webb failed to make the field for the BFGoodrich Tires 250 because his #89 car didn't have enough 2003 owner's points. But it was a lesson learned for Webb, whose other car, the #87, did have enough points. If Webb would have come to the event using the #87, he would have made the show.
RABBIT DOESN'T HELP... ST. AMANT IS SNAKE-BITTEN
Gary St. Amant has had a miserable start to his 2003 season to say the least. The two-time ASA champion's misfortunes continued in Concord. Early in the race he had no where to go at one point and was involved in an accident with two other cars. That knocked the team out of contention and behind pit wall for most of the race.
"There are a lot of racers that need to thank me, because
I had enough time to look up in the mirror and know that I couldn't turn right or I was going to wreck a bunch of racecars," said St. Amant after the race. "It was just one of those deals where I saw the 60-car up in the wall and I thought he was going all the way to the inside wall. We all had no place to go.
Before the race, crazy man and fellow racer Bill Plemons presented Gary with a stuffed rabbit. The explanation for the gift; St. Amant's luck has been so bad, that he needs much more than just a lucky rabbit's foot to turn it around.
"Bill called me this week and said 'Alright St. Amant, you heard the saying when things get bad they can get worsehahahaha. I'm just telling you, you hang in there. You've got the right man working for you. Just listen to me; it will all turn around for you.'"
EARLY ACCIDENT MAKES FOR BROWN'S BUSY NIGHT
Early in the race, Ed Brown brushed the inside wall and spun down into the path of oncoming Troy Wangerin and St. Amant. That resulted extensive damage on the #60 car, but that didn't stop Ed from rolling up his sleeves and getting his car back in action.
"I didn't wait for the tires to come up to temperature and I got loose coming off of turn four and got into the fence," said Brown. "Then I was just a sitting duck. I got right in the way of Gary and Troy. There was no place for those guys to go.
"We are trying to accomplish goals in advancing in the Winner's Circle program. We figured if we got it back out there, we could pick up some positions. We were able to borrow some parts from some other teams and get it all back together and picked up three positions. It was worth the effort."
SMITH COLLECTS BEST CAREER FINISH
Casey Smith blew out his birthday candles on Sunday and got exactly what he wished for on Saturday night, as the teen collected his first career top-10 finish in ASA competition. He finished eighth. Considering the circumstances that followed the ASA Racing Series to Concord Motorsport Park on Saturday, the teenager was able to overcome several unforeseeable circumstances to collect his best career ASA finish, which came at the tricky track dubbed "the world's fastest half-mile tri-oval."
"This is a pretty good birthday present," said Smith, who turned 18 on Easter Sunday. "We had a good car and were able to survive this tough track when other people were falling out and we ended up eighth. Now, the car is in one piece and this gives us all kinds of momentum heading into Lanier next week. I love racing on back-to-back weekends."
STEWART SAYS WANGERIN WAS AN IDIOT
Greg Stewart lasted a total of two laps before finding the turn one wall. And he wasn't happy about it.
"The second lap, that piece of sh*t #32 car just drilled me getting into turn one," said Stewart. "We are two laps into the race and no one has any time on the track; you are just trying to be cautious at first. There are just some idiots out there. When you get rammed getting into a turn on the second lap, that is just someone being a fool. He hit me so hard that he picked my rear end up off the ground and I hit the wall and broke a bunch of stuff in the rear end.
ST. AMANT'S #7
Rich Bickle would have been a threat to win in the #42 Jerry Wood-owned car.
Ed Brown works on repairing his #60 car after an accident.
"It's frustrating that people just get that impatient. With the trouble we have all had today with the weather, you should just tip-toe it for a few laps and get things sorted out. Some idiot that doesn't have any business out here drills you in the ass-end, it is all over with.
The culprit, in Stewart's eyes, was rookie Troy Wangerin, who felt different about the whole situation.
"I think they all brake checked in the corner. They just all pulled up in front of me and practically stopped. I don't know. I was just going into one the way I always do. I don't think I am at fault."
LEICHT vs. SIEG
On the card this round rookie Stephen Leicht versus rookie Shane Sieg. The fight over who was to blame when the two got together while slowing down for a frontstretch spin. The resulting accident put both drivers out of the race. Leicht finished 31st, Sieg 32nd.
"I was just running around taking it easy," said Leicht. "We weren't in a hurry. I came up on the 39 and before anyone yelled caution, he just slammed on his brakes and I ran over him. I feel bad. This car was good. The worse we would have finished tonight would have been in the top 10. Everyone is showing a lack of patience. You hate to see so many cautions. He just decided to stop right in the middle of the track. He didn't give any hand signs or anything.
Sieg, who has had two bad runs in 2003, blamed the fellow rookie.
"I've been around racing and I saw a rookie just drive right over me," said Sieg. "I hate to say that since I am a rookie as well, at least when it comes to ASA racing, but there was nothing I could do after that. He just ran me over because he decided he couldn't stop."
COPE POINTS FINGER AT COZZOLINO
Short Track veteran Mike Cope had an intriguing day in North Carolina, one that saw the veteran finish 12th after being involved in a late race accident with Peter Cozzolino and Rick Beebe.
"Rick (Beebe) goes down into turn one and gets together with the 55 car (Todd Kluever) and backs out; not a problem. Then Peter (Cozzolino) just runs him over. At that point, I had no where to go. I started sliding sideways and I wanted to loop it around, but I backed it up into Rick then got the inside guardrail a little bit.
"It just killed the car which sucks because it was a pretty good car; we would have finished seventh or eighth; we were off just that little bit. We are getting better. We were up there in the top-10 all night long; that is all that matters. We are gaining ground on these guys and will be a contender soon enough."
GREG WILLIAMS SHOWS HIS ASA DEDICATION
After nearly destroying his car in Houston just a week ago, budget racer Greg Williams had a busy week. Williams was not able to get his one and only car fixed for the Concord show, so to stay on the Winner's Circle program, he needed to find a car to just make the race with and pull off early in the show.
Stephen Leicht wasn't a happy camper after Saturday night.
Williams worked a full 12-hour day at his full-time job as a coal miner on and then drove to Mississippi to pick up a car owned by Ken Causey. Williams then drove all the way back to his home in Southern Indiana and went back to work for a full 12-hour day. He wasn't finished. Williams loaded his stuff and drove down to Concord, where he started the race 28th and drove Causey's car up to 22nd at the finish. It was better than he had planned.
Williams isn't sure about his plans for a Lanier car but hopes to have his regular car back at Toledo.
PYLE'S DEPRESSED WITH NIGHT
Robbie Pyle wasn't in the best of spirits after the race; maybe because he was involved in a late accident not of his doing or maybe because he didn't have that top-five car (he finished 11th) they hope for weekly.
"I don't know who started the mess, but I got ran in the back of trying to slow down for it. We want to be in the top-five every week; now we have to go and fix the car. It just kind of gets you down."
KLUEVER FEELS LIKE A PINBALL AT CONCORD
Todd Kluever got banged and pushed around all night long, yet still came home sixth.
"We weren't very good at the beginning," said Wisconsin's Kluever. "We were terrible in practice. We tested here and still couldn't get a handle on the place. The car wasn't bad, but it needed a couple more things. We needed track position because this is such a tough place to pass. We came in with the leaders and took right side tires and decided to stay out next time and lead some laps. It is tight racing. People will beat you around here.
"I got spun around on the front stretch at one point. Someone was looking out for me because I didn't get hit and kept going. I know they wrecked a lot of stuff around me. I was in every wreck for a while late last year and this year, so maybe my luck in changing."
HEMPHILL FRUSTRATED AFTER JUST RIDING AROUND
"Everyone was sliding around and I got hit. Reffner got us turned around. I didn't have traction because my rear tires were off the ground. I was just running around making laps because we had a decent car."
Word has it the tap by Reffner was payback for a tap from Ryan at Houston that send the #80 around. Hemphill finished 24th.
Greg Williams put his #10 on Ken Causey's car just to make the show in Concord.
DONNY REUVERS' GREAT NIGHT ENDS EARLY
Country Joe Racing debuted driver Donny Reuvers in Concord and the driver was slowly making progress through the field when he slowed for an accident. He then got back on the gas to power around it and snapped the rearend. Reuvers was moving up through the field in a dramatic fashion before his misfortunes.
NASCAR SEEN AND HEARD
Several NASCAR faces were seen throughout the garage area on Satruday, and many more could have been expected had it not been for the bad weather. Former ASAers and now NASCAR regulars Joey Clanton, Scott Wimmer, Johnny Sauter and David Stremme were all making rounds, as was Winston Cup rookie Jamie McMurray and Busch Series owner Gregory Pollock and crew chief Butch Hylton. Several other former ASA crew members were also on hand to catch up with old friends. Legendary short tracker Dick Trickle was at Concord as was NASCAR's own Jerry Cook.
CLANTON SIZES UP CONTROVERSIAL LAST LAP
Defending ASA Champion Joey Clanton was on hand for Saturday's race in Concord. Being in several skirmishes last year himself, Clanton had only a brief comment on the last lap pass between Davin Scites and Mike Garvey.
"That looked like good hard racing on the last lap."