COPE'S CORNER
Fuming Over ASA’s New Rules
Editor's Note: Mike Cope is in Lakeland (FL) this weekend to open the ASA season.  On Thursday, we talked with Mike to see is reaction to the controversial ASA rule changes for 2004. The opinions expressed in this column are his and not necessarily those of the 51 staff.

Some of these new rules…I don’t know where they come up with them.  I don’t understand some of them. I guess we will have to work it out and see what happens
a one groove racetrack.  If you are running fourth automatically you are going to be shuffled to the outside on these restarts and the fifth place guy will have the run on you.  And if there is a lapped car in between you, you are screwed too.

It makes no sense. If they want double file restarts why don’t we do lead lap cars on the outside and lapped cars on the inside. Line them up and let’s go racing. This deal is not broke, let’s not fix it. I don’t get what they are trying to do there. Cautions breed cautions. They all need to understand that. I think they have become race fans.  Don’t get me wrong race fans are great and they are what made this sport what it is, but they don’t have to work on these racecars. A caution breeds a caution and I don’t understand what they are trying to do except tear sh*t up. If my sh*t gets tore up, it’s just one less race that I can make because we are on a paper thin budget as it is. I tear up enough sh*t as it is (laugh) and I don’t need any help.

You have the lapped cars starting mixed in with the field and what’s going to happen is when we head off into turn one you’re going to end up in the trunk. Let’s just say I am running second. I have two lapped cars between me and the leader. That means a lapped car goes to the outside of the front row and a lapped car goes to the inside and now I have to line up fourth on the outside behind a lapped car. I’m running second but have to now line up fourth on the restart. I will guarantee you that when we get to turn one… I’ll have wrecked them. And if they want to see a wreck… that is what they will see.
That is what Bryan Reffner said during the driver’s meeting today and what everybody agrees upon. It can be 20 laps to go and you raced your ass off and they are going to essentially penalize you. Just line up the lapped cars on the bottom and the leaders on the high side, drop the green flag and let’s go racin’ man. It works in Nextel Cup, it works in Busch and it works in Trucks. It works everywhere! Why can’t it work here?

And then they dropped this new qualifying procedure on us that just came out of the blue.  We have to run with four cars for six laps in qualifying.  I need the extra laps so I’m not
What do I think about the new rules?  I think it’s BS.  What I know about them is… not as much as everyone else.

They’ve (ASA officials) obviously got too much time on their hands. They need to be doing other things besides coming up with these crazy rules. I don’t know what they are doing and it is beyond me. This old dog doesn’t need to be taught too many new tricks. I have a hard enough time following the rules and parameters that they set forth.

First the restarts. I guess if you are running third, automatically you are going to be second if you are at
going to complain.  But say we go to Atlanta and I end up with three bad partners that can not get up to speed and draft like you need to, you are screwed. At places like here in Lakeland, if someone goes into the corner and blows a motor and I go off into the corner right behind him, I’ll trash my car because some guy dumps a transmission or left his rear end plug out and dumps fluid on the track.

It’s ok if he goes out there in qualifying and does it and wrecks himself.  Now he does it to me and some other cars.  That’s a bullsh*t deal.  If we are going to do that, I say lets just run some heat races. Ten laps, dash for the cash. Call them the Five Star 10s because that’s who’s going to make money. ASA wants to see excitement?  Run heat races; we’ll show them some excitement.

It’s hard enough to get in these fields and now they are going to make it even harder. We’ve got people and sponsors to answer to. We’ve got to make these shows and that’s what Reffner and a couple other guys said. What are we supposed to say “well I ran in the back of a slow car and got screwed?” That ain’t going to work. And then it turns into a budget situation because if I miss a few shows and my budgets gone, they are going to be missing a car.
Cope raises his hand to voice his opinion during Thursday's driver's meeting.
I could do this if they went off the practice sheets, taking your average speed and pairing you with the people you belong with. I would not have a problem with that. Hey, it will put on a little show but I won’t be catching a guy who’s running the same speed as me if we take off together and have some space between us. You get me out there with a guy a half second slower than me and I’m going to catch him and he’s going to screw up my whole deal. So now I’m going to have to get my work done before I catch him.


They could go to one lap qualifying if they are worried about saving time. One lap and you are done and if you screwed up then you go to the second round. You have two rounds of qualifying if that’s what it takes. They don’t need that warm-up lap. Throw that away. You have the warm-up lap before because the tires were so hard you couldn’t make them go until three four laps into a run. Now these tires are good. They are ready right now. If you stick with two laps when you pull out of pit road throw the green then the white then the checker and send the other guy out on the white flag lap behind the guy. That wouldn’t be a problem.

If they want to speed it up that’s fine but they are more interested in the show. They want a show? This is my solution…put the pace car out there with Jim Haun (pace car driver)  with a helmet on and we’ll dodge him.