SHOWDOWN LEFTOVERS: GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION by Jeremy Troiano
After Review, No Respect, Broken Parts, Harsh Words & More
The final 50-lap segment was marred by several multi-car accidents (the first 100 has several single or two-car accidents as well) that took out many good competitors, several of them from the West Series.
It started just two laps after the lap-100 break, off the inverted restart. TV replays showed Matt Kobyluck (Busch North) getting into the left rear of defending Showdown winner Austin Cameron (West). Cameron spun in front of much of the field, bearing down on him. The ensuing crash collected several of the night's fastest cars, including the first-segment winner David Gilliland (West), along with Kelly
SEVERAL DRIVERS EMBARRASSED BY FINAL 50 LAPS
If you were there in person or watched on TV, the last 50 laps of the Grand National race at Irwindale looked... well... wild. That was ironic too, considering on Friday night, during the two 50-lap qualifying races, there wasn't a single caution flag thrown.
However, several drivers said it looked embarrassing.
Moore (Busch North), Eddie MacDonald (Busch North) and Sean Woodside (West).
All were knocked out with the exception of Moore.
Scott Lynch's car was worse for wear after the last-lap accident on Saturday night. (51 Photos)
Just a few laps later, the cars of Ryan Moore (Busch North), Mike Duncan (West), Kerry Earnhardt (West), Brett Thompson (West) and Jose Luis Ramirez (West) were involved in a big accident on the front stretch, knocking all but Duncan out of the event. Ramierz's car briefly caught fire on the backstretch.
Then, coming to the white flag, another big accident involved Scott Lynch (West), Bryon Chew (Busch North), Joey McCarthy (Busch North) and Brian Hoar (Busch North). That accident saw Lynch, running third at the time, spin in front of several drivers after contact with Kobyluck. Lynch proceeded to get t-boned in the
passenger side door, sending his car violently spinning around on the front stretch. He was checked over by the ambulance staff.
“I didn't know who it was that got into me, but someone got me hard,” said Cameron after his wreck with Kobyluck just after the restart. “That was really unfortunate. I don't know if he wasn't using his brain or not. There are a lot of wrecked race cars now. It's a bummer really. We had a great car and made an awesome adjustment at the half way break. The thing was on fire on the restarts. I had visions of last year, you know. I thought we really could repeat. But that was it right there.”
“I think people were pushing the envelope too soon,” said Gilliland, who got a hearty ovation from the Irwindale crowd after exiting his car following the wreck, a local favorite. “It is hard to say though. It isn't a points deal and everyone is racing hard. Everyone is here to win. Everyone is going for the win, it is just good close short track racing. That stuff happens I guess.
Brett Thompson's and Jose Luis Ramirez's cars sit wrecked on the backstretch while the other cars come to a stop under the red.
on the outside behind the 96 (Mike Johnson) and he decided to try and dive low just as I was down there and there was only so much real estate for the three of us. We ended up making contact there. It wasn't intentional. He got the short end of the stick tonight. I wish it wouldn't' have happened for him.
Ryan Moore was rather unhappy his #74 was torn up during the lap 122 restart accident that took him and several other cars out of contention.
“The car was really good the first few laps of the second segment, but then it started getting worse and worse,” said Moore. “We diagnosed that is was the battery and then the alternator couldn't keep up with it. That thing was hooked up. We really thought we had something for them.
“I don't know what happened though. I think the 40 (Kobyluck) got into the 16 (Cameron). I was up high and there was a car on the inside of me so I was boxed in. I had no where to go and just hit him. It is a bummer.
“It is one of those things with the invert deal, but that is part of the race.”
Kobyluck said the accident was just a racing deal.
“We came down there and I was diving down to the bottom like I had been the whole night,” said Kobyluck, who ended up second in the end. “Apparently Austin was following in
“When the battery was dead, I couldn't get up to speed. We told the 9 car (Duncan) that we weren't going to be able to go and that they were going to have to try and get around us on the inside during the restart. I don't know if he didn't believe us or didn't care, one or the other. He just plowed us out of the way. It was unfortunate because it took a lot of cars out. It is just unfortunate that he couldn't have shown more patience or try to found a way around us. It hurt his night too. It was kinda foolish on his part.”
“These guys weren't respecting each other tonight,” said Thompson, involved in the lap 122 accident as well. “It was pretty ugly out there.”
Busch North rookie Ryan Seamen wasn't involved in any of the big wrecks, but instead, got into it with Ramirez during the first 100-lap segment, but again blamed impatience on everyone as the reasoning for his accident.
"He bounced me off the fence all the way down the backstretch and when we got to the corner he just moved right up in front of me and I got in the fence pretty hard," Seaman said. “Its too bad. Just seemed way to early to do something like that.”
Several drivers who either made it through all of the night's accidents or had already fallen out had some pretty strong opinions of the race that unfolded on Saturday night.
“It was all a matter of survival out there,” Mike Olsen (Busch North) said after the race. “We were lucky to get out of here with a car in one piece. Not a lot of people can say that tonight.
“I don’t know what happened out there. There was no give and take. The drivers here are all the best of the best. That’s what this show is all about. Unfortunately, the fans didn’t see that – they saw a wreckfest.
Austin Cameron's car was also heavily damaged in the Grand National race.
David Gilliland's car was mangled.
was no need for what happened. Too many cars were wrecked."
“I felt so bad dropping out so early for everybody involved in this team, but then to see cars just getting destroyed – it was awful,” said Stefanik. “Thank God nobody got hurt in this whole mess. The whole team sat as a group and watched it, and as the race went on we felt a little better and a little better about losing the rear end that early. I don’t think we would have been able to avoid all of those wrecks.”
“This race was a disgrace really – for both of the divisions,” said Bryan Chew. “We were supposed to be the All Stars of the touring series’ and look at all the torn up racecars.”
“I was probably better off where I was, restarting up front in the lap-down line because all the wrecks would have been right in front of me if I was on the lead lap,” said Dale Quarterly (Busch North). “I survived a race that not too many guys survived and only put one little dent in the car."
Only 14 of the 30 cars that started were running at the end of the night.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The NASCAR Grand National Division 150-lap event as part of the Toyota All Star Showdown at Irwindale (CA) was wild, to say the least. The last lap, with an accident on the front stretch ending the night under caution, made scoring really wild.
Both Mike Stefanik and Kelly Moore ended their nights in the first 20 laps of the race, both with rearend problems, but both said they were probably glad they did.
“I am glad we didn't go back out," Santerre said after the race. "The last 50 laps was a disgrace. I actually got to watch in the grandstands and I didn't see any give and takeout there. On a track like Irwindale, there is no reason 150 laps could not be run without a caution flag, there is plenty of racing room out there.
"No one used their head and cars got wrecked because of it. After such great qualifying races and a good 100 laps, there
Sean Woodside's wrecked West Series car.
Therefore, after a thorough scoring review of the race, a few adjustments have been made.
NASCAR officials imposed a post-race 45-second penalty on the #54 Ford driven by Tim Woods (West) for his failure to reduce his speed during a caution period. The penalty moved Woods from an fifth finishing position to 13th.
The original, but unofficial rundown sent out by NASCAR immediately after the race showed Mike Olsen , Woods, III, Bobby Dragon (Busch North), Mike Duncan and Kelly Moore fourth through eight.
The final rundown has Duncan fourth (and the top finishing West driver), Dragon fifth, Moore sixth, Olsen seventh and Brian Hoar (Busch North) eighth (one lap down).
SANTERRE, STEFANIK FALL OUT EARLY WITH SIMILAR PROBLEMS
“I think it was rear end,” said Santerre as he walked back to his pits during the 10-minute break in the action on Saturday night. “We got a quick change rear end in this car. I think we just broke a ring and pinion.
“What we ran, we were pretty strong. I rode behind the 88 (Gilliland) for a while and I could see that I was beating him pretty good through the middle of the corner, so I just turned down and drove by. Once I got out there, I just sat a pace because I didn't want to wear it out that early, but I had a lot more left if I needed it.
“It is just unfortunate. I had a great car. We did just such a good job today. We found a problem with the rear end earlier today. So we took it all apart and checked it all over. We looked at the ring and pinion and everything looked good. We put it all back together so I don't think that had anything to do with it.
“I really think we had a shot at winning that race. The car was just hooked up so good.”
It was Santerre's first DNF since 2000 when involved in a race ending accident at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Following the first few laps of Saturday night's race and the results of the qualifying races on Friday night, there was little doubt that the two favorites for the Toyota All Star Showdown win would be Andy Santerre or David Gilliland.
However, after the first few laps when Santerre blew around Gilliland, it looked to be Andy's night.
Not so fast.
Just 12 laps into the race, Santerre fell off of the pace while leading the event, a victim of a broken rear end. Ironically, the team had just checked the rear end in the morning and everything looked good. Even more ironic, it was the same problem that befell Santerre's Busch North rival Mike Stefanik just a few laps earlier in the race.
Busch North Champion Andy Santerre (left) talks with Jeff Fultz, the Southeast Series champion.
Stefanik lasted just seven laps.
“It was something it the rear end. Probably took the teeth off the pinion or broke the pinion, we're not really sure yet,” said Stefanik as he entered his hauler on Saturday night.
“It is about 3,000 miles to come for six or seven laps in the feature. That is just horrible. Andy had the same basic problem a few laps later. That is just tough to swallow.”
KOBYLUCK TURNS HIS “LUCK” AROUND
“We ran around like a pile of junk in the qualifying races.”
Not the sort of statement you'd expect someone to say and come back to look so strong in the feature. But that is exactly what Matt Kobyluck did.
Kobyluck used a strong car and a little misfortune by others to score an impressive runner up finish in Saturday night's feature event of the Toyota All Star Showdown.
“What a long weekend it was,” said Kobyluck. “We had rear end problems. We had brake problems. These guys worked their butts off this weekend.”
Mike Stefanik (#55) got lots of laps in practice, but very few in the race.
Kobyluck also used the fortunes of a eight on the invert, putting him on the outside front row for the last 50-lap shootout. He outlasted all of the accidents that marred the last 50 and came home just one spot short of the checkered flag.
"We ended up second, and that's fortunate for us. We had a tough weekend. We weren't that great at the end of the day Thursday, then come Friday we still weren't great . We ran around like a pile of junk during the qualifying race, but we did have some positives to take from that because the changes we made before the qualifying race worked well. The car responded well to those, so we had something to build on there. The brakes were fixed so they
Matt Kobyluck was junk in the qualifying races, but second after the feature.
weren't dragging, and then we just had to work to get the car even better. Right from the drop of the green the car was so much better and I could finally showcase what I was capable of."
"We had a really good car and I love having a good car because I can get up on the wheel and drive the thing hard," he said. "That's the kind of car I had tonight.
"My best shot at (eventual race winner) Mike Johnson was on the restarts," he said. "If I could have got him, that was the only time I would have got him. Once we got running and got three or four laps of green, he'd be able to stay in front of me and my car was a little too tight in the middle and I had to run in his tire tracks. I tried going high, going low, running in the middle trying to gain ground but I couldn't gain on him."
KELLY MOORE BATTLES BACK FORM ADVERSITY
Kelly Moore didn't let the little things get to him on Saturday night. Little things like getting involved in an accident, having most of his front body work gone, a busted up radiator, brakes problems and other little hindrances. Nope. Moore raced through it all and collected a top-10 finish at Irwindale on Saturday night.
Tim Woods (#54) was penalized post-race and moved back to 13th.
Moore, who finished third in this qualifying race the night before, was fast, but was saving his stuff for the final 50-lap showdown to show what he really had. Unfortunately, just two laps into that final 50-lap showdown, he got swept up in the first of several multi-car accidents.
Moore drove his battered car to pit road, where the crew had to wait to begin repairs since the red flag was out. Once they started fixing the car, they worked their tails off and got Moore back out on the track, amazingly enough, without ever losing a lap.
"The car was really good at the beginning of the race,"
Moore said. "We got up to third and settled in to run there. We were running pretty hard and we had a couple guys challenge us, and knowing that they were going to do an invert I didn't fight them that hard, I figured falling back to fifth or sixth wasn't going to be that bad as long as we can maintain the car. I didn't lay down for those guys, but I didn't fight them that hard knowing that the invert was going to come.
“The crew did a great job getting this car back on the track," Moore continued. "They had to pull the radiator back because it was pushed back so far it was crimping the upper hose. They had to take the hood off and strap everything up to get us back out there.
Late in the going, Moore and Mike Olsen made contact exiting turn two, resulting in Moore looping the car in a quick 360-degree spin, recovering without bringing out a yellow, but losing a couple of positions.
He crossed the finish line in eighth place.
"Even with this car all ripped up, it was still pretty fast. We came up through and tried to get back to the top six, and we were going for more but with a couple laps to go the 61 (Olsen) got into me and turned me around. It's unfortunate, but that's just one of those things. It wasn't intentional on his part, he was running hard and said he looked up in his mirror and the next thing he knew he was running into me.
“Finishing eighth was great, though finishing sixth would have been even better."
Kelly Moore's car didn't look this good at the end of the night.