GILL WINS RACE SOURED BY TOO MANY CAUTION LAPS by Jeremy Troiano
Several Drivers, Fans Very Unhappy With How The Race Turned Out
The story of the race at Concord (NC) on Saturday night should have been the great battle between two Concord veterans Bobby Gill and Clay Rogers, who put on a great show for the last quarter of the race fighting for the lead.
“If they don’t get it straightened out, they are going to ruin this series,” said series veteran Jay Fogleman, who immediately got out of his car after the race and confronted officials for a late race penalty when he spun to avoid an accident. “This is a great series but the officials are very indecisive this year. They have been turning decisions around a lot this year and they need to stop it.
“They did the right thing and put me back in my spot for when I spun to avoid a wreck. A few people complained about it and they turned it around. It’s inconsistency. We probably ran half of the second half of the race under caution and we need to get over that. They need to make decisions and stick with them. The problems are right up there in the tower.”
Mart Nesbitt, another series veteran, was the victim of a black-flagged car running into him late in the race and costing him several spots at the finish.
“Hooters (officials) are going to have to get these races under control,” said a frustrated Nesbitt. “They are getting away from them. I blame (officials) for some of the stuff that is going on out here.
“I talked to the officials after the race but you just wonder if it does any good. The scoring tower has some issues and they need to get it figured out. It has gotten wild out here these last few races. It can’t be that way because these cars are expensive and there is a lot of stuff getting wrecked. They’ll start losing cars if it continues.
“There are a lot of guys disputing their spots because these cars are getting so close that you need to fight for every spot you can take these days. If you get a bad call under caution, it might take you 30 laps to get it back under green.
But the real story of the race was cautions, cautions and cautions. Not only the number of cautions but the amount of caution laps run during the event. On numerous occasions, cautions for simple spins or minor accidents resulted in very long caution periods while the field was trying to be reformed and the positions were being disputed.
At one point, it was so bad that the fans literally started to “boo” when the “one to go” was given and waved off on no less than three occasions during one caution flag. Another caution period lasted around 25 laps while penalties and position disputes were being sorted out.
Jay Fogleman (#4) was very unhappy with the officiating after Saturday night's "wreckfest" at Concord Motorsport Park (NC).
Mart Nesbitt was another of the very unhappy drivers Saturday night.
“If they would black flag them when they get out of line under caution with one to go, I think it would stop. But this world is ‘monkey see monkey do.’ When you see someone do it, you will do it too when the shoe is on the other foot.”
There were plenty of penalties handed out yet again this week in Pro Cup action, for everything from speeding down pit road to the inevitable rough driving. One driver, Mike Herman Jr., was even served a penalty for working on his car under red when in fact the TV crew filming him for a reality-based show was the ones inside the car, changing a battery in an on-board camera. It took officials several laps to finally get that one problem all sorted out and Herman was given his two-lap penalty back.
Rogers made several attempts to get by Gill on the highside, but Gill’s spotter, a veteran racer himself, gave some pretty good advice that kept Rogers at bay.
“(Mardy) Lindley was spotting for me tonight and he told me to move up to the higher lane because (Rogers) was getting in higher than me and beating me there, so I scooted up and we took away his line.”
Rogers, who always proclaims his love to race against Gill, was happy with his run all things considered.
“Bobby is a great driver and I always have so much fun racing him so to run second to him always makes you fee like you’ve won,” said Rogers, who has won countless times at the unique tri-oval in a number of divisions. “Congrats to him. He was good all day long.
But the night wasn’t all about controversy and bitching. There was also a heck of a race that unfolded between series point leader Rogers and short track legend Gill.
“This is a track that is all about experience and I think that showed here tonight with Clayton and myself,” said Gill, who took the lead on lap 164 and held off quite a charge from Rogers several times late in the race. “Clayton’s got a ton of laps here and I’ve been racing here for a long time, so we are two guys know know how to get around the track.
“It’s hard to pass good cars here even when your car is really good. If I wouldn’t have gotten by (Rogers) earlier in the race, I don’t think I could have got by him late.”
Bobby Gill won his first Pro Cup race of the 2004 season.
“Boy, we struggled in practice today. I didn’t feel good about this race today. But thankfully, the track did exactly what it always does and that is tighten up once the sun falls. That is the worse car I’ve ever had here and to run second with it is great. Experience pays off at this race track. We got the car to a point where we could finish how we did today.”
Even more ironic is that Gill hauls his car to the races each week in a trailed owned by Rogers.
When asked about that, Rogers chuckled, but had more great things to say about Gill.
“Bobby fell on some hard times off the winter and he’s always been one to step up and help me out when I needed
The Rogers brothers Clay (left) and Brad (right) were two of the strongest cars on the track, but things didn't work out for either in the end.
it. He still helps us out. He is a respectable guy and I respect him so much and I think he respects me too.”
Respect was a word talked about much in the post race at Concord, but it wasn’t always under the best of circumstances.