Race Weekend Central

Potts’ Shots: To Cross the Finish Line

Right to the Q&A this week.

Sally Baker writes, “I know NASCAR used to have a rule that the winner of a race had to cross the finish line without help. With the tandem racing at the plate tracks, what about that rule? Before the race, they even showed Dick Trickle running out of gas near the end of the last lap in a race being pushed by his teammate – who deliberately pulled away from his back bumper so he wouldn’t be ‘assisting’ his teammate over the line. So…?”

Well, Sally, I didn’t see the segment with Trickle, but I do remember Darrell Waltrip talking about a race when Harry Gant was pushed by a teammate, Rick Mast, for the last lap or two. Rick pulled away on the last lap and Harry won the race.

DW had finished second, and went to the trailer and complained. He then withdrew his complaint when NASCAR informed him that the spoiler on his car didn’t conform to the rules. His choices were to accept the finish as it was and take second place, or be disqualified along with Gant and whoever was third would win the race.

I had an experience with a situation similar to this when I flagged an ARCA race at Salem, Ind. and wrote a column about it.

It was the last race of the 1977 season, I was there just to watch. Frank Canale of ARCA asked me to flag the 100-lap feature in a combined program with Ed Adair’s midget series. As I recall, Conan (Moose) Myers, driving Jim Stovall’s No. 0 Oldsmobile, needed a reasonable finish to win the championship. With five laps left, Moose rolled to a stop on the backstretch and his car was behind the old infield tower, blocked from my view.

I had the yellow flag in my right hand and was ready to throw it when Steve Stubbs, who was on the radio in the tower, told me to hold the yellow. Turns out Woody Fisher was going to push Moose across the line.

Coming through the fourth turn, Fisher either backed off or Moose’s car started and they were separated coming down the front straightaway. With the noise of so many cars going by at the same time, I couldn’t tell if the No. 0 was running or not.

This pattern was repeated for the next four laps until the race was over and Myers ended up with a good enough finish to win the championship.

Nobody protested, but Canale asked me after the race what I thought. I told him there was always space between the cars and Jim Stovall, standing right there beside us, maintained that all Fisher did was get Moose started each time the engine died.

Now, a car owner with a championship at stake wouldn’t stretch the truth in a situation like that, would he?

At any rate, there being no evidence to the contrary, the finish stood as recorded and Myers was the 1977 ARCA champion.

Now, bear in mind that this was on a half-mile high-banked track, not Daytona or Talladega. I think it would be relatively easy to tell if the lead car was out of power in one of those two-car drafts.

With today’s plate racing, or what passes for racing nowadays in these two-car tandems, it would be fairly easy to tell when the lead car is out of power. The speed of that pair would fall off dramatically, I would think.

My opinion on the two-car tandems? I don’t like it. It looks a lot like the “chain races” we used to run at the short tracks. It was really a lot more entertaining, especially on a figure 8. You had two cars chained together, usually huge Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Ford LTDs, etc. in competition. It was even more fun when you took the engine out of the car in the rear and disconnected the brakes of the one in front with no radios allowed. Then it can be a real lesson in having to trust your partner.

I think they still do this at some short tracks. Rockford Speedway in Illinois comes to mind. The Deery family has never been reluctant to get outside the box.

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A note here to Don Eslinger, who asks a question about a well-known dirt stock car driver who was reportedly found dead in his car – I’m researching that one.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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