Parks Pit Report: Toyota Owners 400

A wild battle in the final few laps gave way to Joey Logano winning at Richmond, and a few confrontations afterward.

A wild battle in the final few laps gave way to Joey Logano winning at Richmond, and a few confrontations afterward.

The one thing about short-track racing at any level is that competition between drivers is not only on the track, but can spill over into the pit area or even to victory lane.  The Clearfield area has two great short track venues in CNB Raceway Park, which was dirt for a while and is now back to asphalt, and America’s Motorsports Park, the former Hidden Valley Speedway.  I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen drivers flip off competitors because of something happening on track, or confront them in the pits and fights break out.

That is simply what short-track racing is, it’s a battle, because there’s little room for error, and someone in the end will get upset.

Even at the highest level of competition in NASCAR, short tracks bring out the anger in drivers when something goes wrong.  Back in 2002 Kevin Harvick jumped from pit wall to confront Greg Biffle on pit road, and the next year he ran into Ricky Rudd on pit road at Richmond to “discuss” a spin on the track, followed by the crew jumping on Rudd’s car and destroying the sheet metal.

This weekend’s race at Richmond certainly had some upset drivers at the end of the night, namely Brad Keselowski running to confront Matt Kenseth for “brake checking” on a restart.

Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. got in on that conversation, but wasn’t truly upset over it.  He simply said, “Get over it, man.”  Shows how serious he is this season to win more races and win championships.

But then again, there was one incident that has to be discussed, mainly because a smart FOX cameraman kept his camera rolling and looked to the garage.  Casey Mears and Marcos Ambrose got into a discussion in the garage, and the quick cameraman turned to it and kept rolling.  Mears then grabbed Ambrose and shoved him either against a tool box or the hauler, and then things went bad quickly.  Ambrose reared back and landed a punch square on Mears’ face, right on the eye.  Cameras showed he was wiping his eye as it appeared blood was drawn, but from a distance it was unclear.

Twitter blew up and even some outlets said to have a photo of Mears after leaving the infield care center, which showed a gash to the side of his left eye, and that it was already turning colors of black, blue and purple, while swelling.

Now it’s not the first time cameras have captured a driver taking a swing at another.  Case in point, the 1979 Daytona 500 between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison, and also Michael Waltrip taking a shot at Lake Speed when he was still in his car.  The one that was never caught on camera, although suspension came out of it, was Kurt Busch and Jimmy Spencer in 2003.  So it has happened, but it’s rare that it’s caught on camera.

It’s a short track, tempers are going to flare, that’s what happens.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the weekly series at Hummingbird or if it’s the big guys in NASCAR.  That is what is expected.  If a driver can’t handle short track racing, maybe they’re in the wrong sport.

RESULTS:   1-Logano  2-Gordon  3-Kyle Busch  4-Keselowski  5-Kenseth  6-Allmendinger  7-Earnhardt Jr.  8-Newman  9-Edwards  10-Truex Jr.

NOTABLE FINISHES:  11-Harvick  14-Kahne  23-Kurt Busch  32-Johnson

CAUTIONS:  9 for 66 laps.  Lap 2-7 (#15, 42 Accident-T1), 42-46 (Competition), 100-106 (Debris-FS), 162-170 (Debris-T2), 227-238 (#36 Accident-T3), 297-304 (#17 Accident-T3), 369-376 (Debris-T3), 378-382 (#11, 18, 55 Accident-T3), 386-391 (#30 Fluid on Track-T1).

LEAD CHANGES:  20 among 8 drivers.  Larson POLE, Keselowski 1-31, Harvick 32-42, Kvapil 43, Harvick 44-55, Keselowski 56-101, Cassill 102, Gordon 103-165, Keselowski 166, Gordon 167-172, Keselowski 173-208, Gordon 209-227, Logano 228, Gordon 229-242, Logano 243-251, Gordon 252-298, Earnhardt Jr. 299-305, Logano 306-337, Gordon 338-361, Kenseth 362-396, LOgano 397-400.

TIME OF RACE:  3 Hrs, 12 Mins, 47 Secs.


MARGIN OF VICTORY:  0.946 Seconds

POINT STANDINGS:  1. Gordon, 341 points; 2. Kenseth, -5; 3. Edwards, -28*; 4. Kyle Busch, -31*; 5. Earnhardt Jr, -32*; 6. Logano, -49*; 7. Keselowski, -54*; 8. Johnson, -59; 9. Newman, -69; 10. Vickers, -85.

*Chase-eligible driver

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