MEENDERING JUST OUTPACES PACE CAR by J. Kaplan, M. Dillner & J. Troiano
Big 10 Series Opens With Caution-Filled Race
You know it was a bad night at the races when the Pace Car leads the most laps of the evening. Such was the case as the Big 10 Series made its long-awaited return to Concord Motorsport Park on Saturday evening.
It's been five years since the Big 10 Super Late Model Series took to the fast, half-mile tri-oval at Concord. In the first 10 laps, it appeared that some of the drivers hadn't raced in those five years.
Veteran racer Jeff Meendering played the role of "survivor" as he battled with no power steering all race long and kept his #5 out of harms way, collecting the 100-lap opening round of the Big 10 Series in front of a great crowd.
"We had a good car tonight and great track position which helped us stay out of all those wrecks," said Meendering, who started the race from the pole. "We lost our power steering really early in the race, making it a little tough to drive. Outside of that, the car was awesome."
Many drivers were not as fortunate to survive the night's demolition derby-like action that encompassed the race's first 50 laps. Two of the biggest names in the field, Randy Renfrow and former Big 10 champion Freddie Query didn't even make it to turn one as the green flag dropped before being collected in what was to be the first of several chain reaction wrecks.
"Well, you take a bunch of people who should not be in the front and put them in the front and they think their heroes and they cause big wrecks and good cars get tore up like mine," said Query, who was able to keep his car going before being involved in another multi-car wreck on lap three.
Renfrow, a former full-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor, had the entire front of his car demolished just past the start/finish line in the first-lap accident.
"The track lined up slow cars in front of fast cars and it was going to happen, plain and simple," said Renfrow. "I mean there was bound to be a big wreck at some point. It was just too bad we were caught up in that mess because we had a good race car."
The reason many slow cars started the Big Ten 100 up front was a very unusual mess after qualifying. Query stole the pole with the quickest lap, but his #8 failed to make it through post qualifying inspection. Officials cited several things amiss on the racecar including the nose being too low and not meeting ride height specifications. However Query lined up 10th on the starting grid. Ok, you ask 'how can that be?' Well, only nine cars passed post-qualifying inspection. So the remaining 20 illegal cars lined up according to speed.
Jeff Meendering collected the season-opening Big 10 Series win.
"Well the officials here don't now how to tech these kind of cars and when they checked frame heights they found 17 cars wrong because they checked them wrong," said a frustrated Query.
Many drivers felt like the officials should have been more lenient being this was the first time the Big Ten Series ran at Concord in five years.
For race winner Jeff Meendering the disqualification worked to his favor as he inherited the pole from Query. Meendering got to watch the wreck-fest in his mirrors and use track position to survive the race.
"A lot of people got thrown out after qualifying and it worked in our favor," said Mandeering. "A rule is a rule and we knew it coming in. We read the rule book and you have a certain height on these cars and you have to meet it and that's all there is to it. Some guys got thrown out for 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch, but what if the officials let those guys go who were half inch low? I thought the officials were fair because it has to be the same way for everybody."
Freddie Query's car ended up on the trailer just after three laps.