Turn 2 Blog: Making a tough call when the track is rough & High profile altercations

*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.

The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American All-Star Pro Late Models Presented by PPM Racing Products

How is it that Cherokee Speedway always seems to have an interesting finish?

Richard: I have never understood why Cherokee Speedway gets such a bad rap from some people. It’s one of my favorite tracks to attend because there always seems to be drama associated with the racing action. I know some will point to the fact that the early stages of the show tend to consist of a one-lane track and that is often true. But one thing the Gaffney, SC facility provides that many others do not is that you never know for sure who the winner will be until that car actually crosses the finish line.

The track’s abrasive surface lends itself to a great deal of tire wear, which in turn, brings about those unexpected results. Consider Sunday’s Southern All-Stars Series-sanctioned March Madness event in which it looked like Mike Marlar was a sure fire winner after he dominated the early stretches of the 50-lap affair until he had a flat tire. Michael Brown then inherited the top spot but he soon also suffered a flat. Several others would also experience tire issues.

The simple truth is there are not all that many tracks in which a great deal of passing for the lead is going to take place. As a result, it is not unusual to see races play out with no lead changes. Cherokee causes drivers to make different tire compound choices and to decide how aggressively or conservatively to drive throughout the race which brings about lead changes.

Personally, I enjoy the drama brought on by Cherokee Speedway, and based on the size of the crowds there, I am not the only one.

Chris Ferguson was the winner of a wild show at Cherokee

Michael: I can’t say as to why they always seem to have interesting finishes. I think the crowds the track draws does something to ramp up the driver’s emotions. Even going back to 2003, the track’s most famous finish was when Chris Madden, Earl Pearson Jr., and Duayne Hommel tangled coming to the checkered flag. It seems like there is something that happens in at least one of these races, especially the day races. There must be something in the water there.

What is your opinion regarding the issues involved with the Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals race held at Senoia Raceway?

Richard: What happened at Senoia Raceway this past weekend was unfortunate for everyone. The series, the track, and the competitors were all put in a difficult situation. Almost certainly, recent rains and other weather conditions led to the racing surface turning out very rough which is highly unusual for that track. Following qualifying, everyone involved had to face making a tough decision.

We have all seen rough tracks but I don’t know that I remember a time in which so many teams loaded up and were done for the night immediately after qualifying. Fast qualifier Mike Marlar and Brandon Overton were among those who headed out early.

As far as the promoters were concerned, they were in a no-win situation. No matter what decision they made, they were bound to draw criticism. If they go ahead and run the race, fans will complain about the top drivers leaving. If they cancel, money will have to be refunded because the primary feature was not contested.

For the competitors, if they leave early they lose the entry fee and pit pass money they paid out with no chance of making anything to offset those costs. If they race, they could win money or they could do some expensive damage to the car.

In my opinion, the promoters made the only decision they could make. Enough drivers stayed to call it a full show, so even with any criticism that might come, no grandstand or pit pass money had to be refunded. Each competitor had to do what they thought was best for them. Obviously, Wil Herrington was probably happy he raced.

It was a tough deal for all involved.

Wil Herrington won on a rough track at Senoia

Michael: As soon as half the field decided to load up, the decision should have been made to cancel the race. It’s unfair for the paying fans to buy tickets for a certain price when certain drivers were expected to be there, have laps cut, and only get a partial show. But racetracks will do anything they can to not refund ticket money.

I talked to a driver today that was telling me how much everything in racing continues to still go up in price. These rough tracks are extremely hard on equipment. Take a driver that breaks a front bumper bar, breaks a shock, bends a spindle, tear off part of the body, or anything else, that’s an expensive night.

A number of people were giving grief to Smoky Mountain Speedway for not at least running the Saturday portion of their World of Outlaws doubleheader. The events at Senoia are what Roger Sellers feared would happen to his track if they raced. It’s the ever popular dang if you, dang if you don’t in this situation.

Are a few high profile altercations good for the sport?

Richard: A little drama is never bad for the product. When two such high-profile stars as Chris Madden and Brandon Overton have a dust up, as they did at Cherokee Speedway, it is going to get a lot of attention.

You don’t want that type of stuff to happen every week, especially at the top level. But for it to happen once in a while shows that these drivers are real people with real personalities. Those types of run-ins certainly do fire the crowd up and gives everyone something to talk about.

Michael: These types of things are usually good for the promoters because it puts more butts in the seats. It does make things more interesting than seeing a bunch of drivers who hang out together. I would imagine promoters the next couple of weekends will jump at the opportunity to play up the Madden-Overton deal if they see both drivers will be at their track.

Please consider also reading:

Chris Ferguson snares wild Southern All Stars feature win at Cherokee

Respond to this post on Twitter by following @RichardAllenIDR and @MichaelRMoats or by liking the InsideDirtRacing.com Facebook page.

Also, NASCAR and pavement racing fans can check out InsideCircleTrack.

Comments are closed.