LINDLEY FLIES HOOTERS EXPRESS TO SOBO WIN by Bob Dillner
Questions Arise About Penalties for Fast Cars
Mardy Lindley has 1-888-FLY-HOOT on the side of his racecar in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Northern Division this year and he certainly flew into victory lane at the series’ season-opener at South Boston Speedway. Yet, if you play Monday morning quarterback, or Tuesday morning in this case of a missed deadline reporter, you have to wonder if series officials made a couple of other fast racecars fly the coup on Saturday night at SoBo.
“The guy was clearly mirror driving me,” added Rumley. “He kept doing it. He slipped a little bit, so what was I suppose to do, check up and let Jeff (Agnew, second at the time) run over me? No, I am supposed to go on. Evidently the boy, no, I ain't going to say no more. I guess he is learning; I just hope he didn’t hurt his racecar.”
As you can tell by now Rumley did make contact with Sammons and that forced the number-97 to spin off of turn-two to bring out a caution. USAR officials made Rumley restart at the end of the longest line, but was that call questionable? Probably. We understand that Rumley did make contact with Sammons, but only after Sammons slowed coming off the corner. Rumley didn’t back off, which he could have, but at the same time, Sammons was already going around with the initial, innocent, contact. Rumley felt the win was taken away from him.
“I ain't taking anything away from anyone who won this race or who ran up front, but they penalized two really good cars there. We just happened to be up front when they got us.”
The other car was Jeff Agnew, who is also sponsored by the Hooters, with their Golf division. So much for thinking Rumley, the Lucas Oil driver, was penalized because USAR wanted a Hooters car (remember, that is Lindley’s sponsor) to win the race. C’mon, be honest. That had to enter your mind for a, albeit brief, moment.
Agnew’s penalty, which was the same as Rumley’s, was for barely making contact with Kertus Davis while battling for position late in the race. That contact was enough to force Davis to spin.
Johnny Rumley and Jeff Agnew were Lindley’s stiffest competition in the 250-lap race, but both were a little ticked off after rough-driving penalties sent both of them to the back of the pack and for all intents and purposes, out of contention for the win.
“I disagree with them,” said Rumley after the race. “There is nothing else I can say about it.”
Rumley was leading the event halfway through the race when he came upon Danny Sammons, the last car on the lead lap. Sammons, who had an eventful day in itself (check our Pro Cup Leftovers later in the week), was doing his darndest to stay on the lead lap. And yes, he was covering a lot of ground on the track to keep Rumley in his rear-view mirror.
Johnny Rumley was pretty unhappy with the call that penalized him in the Pro Cup Northern Division opener. (51 Photos)
The #73 of Jeff Agnew was also the victim of a questionable call during the race.
“That penalty really cost us,” Agnew explained after the race. “I felt like we had a car that could win there. We got in the back of Kertus, but I ran under him two or three times. That time I didn't really get under him enough for him to give me a lane, but, I don't know. Seems to me like it ought to be a little bit better understanding (on Davis’ part). I mean, if a car is that much better than you, you should give him the line so you don't end up tearing up a bunch of cars.
“They make the calls. You have to live with it whether you like it or not. But if a guy tries and tries to be clean, especially at a place like this where it is so tight, I think they have to look at that and let some stuff go.”
Even winner Lindley had some snafus with some slower cars. Luckily for him, a fast pitstop put him out front after the only round of pitstops. That enabled Lindley to kick-off the year the way everyone would want to.
“We had an awesome car all night and that’s because we came up here and tested. We were good when we tested; we unloaded yesterday and we were good then too. We worked on it all day and got it better today. Right before halfway, we made an adjustment on the pit stop and it was on cruise control after that. All of that was enough to win.”
It still would have been interesting to see Lindley, Rumley an Agnew all battle for the win at SoBo. I can tell you one thing though; if USAR officials were trying to send a message to its competitors about rough driving, consider it message received.
“This is big; it is really big. Anytime you can win a race, especially the season-opener, it sets the momentum for all year long,” said Lindley.
“The slow cars got bad. It is the first race and some of these guys you have to be extra cautious around, especially in the northern division. I've had some races won and lapped cars have gotten us before. I was being real cautions tonight.”
Lindley beat Pro Cup first-timer Gary St. Amant (the two-time ASA champ who is now running Pro Cup full-time) to the line (look for a story on Gary later in the week here on 51). But Lindley will tell you it wasn’t just because of a couple questionable calls that won him this race.
No calls against Mardy Lindley... just a call to head to Victory Lane.