It's hard to believe that the 2013 season is now half over at Hilltop. From the start of the season the place has been packed and the racing action has been the best in the area without a doubt. We've seen domination on certain nights, but with plenty of 3 and 4 wide racing throughout the fields in all classes. What more could ya ask for? Some folks need drama I suppose and they got/created plenty of that this week. I'll get to that shortly.
I was looking forward to Saturday night when Randy Pollock said he'd be headed to Hilltop for his first night out of the 2013 season. Randy may only race part time in recent years but this guy gives 110% whenever he hits the track. Unfortunately his engine gave about 60% in qualifying and then came unglued. Damn, what a shame. The rest of the Late Model field was once again packed with plenty of talent and horsepower so there'd still be plenty of action to see. Tyler Carpenter was back on The Hill, George Lee looked to be on top of his game with fast time, and Rick Bond was turning great laps as he did earlier in the season, just to name a few. With Lee starting on the front row I wondered if he'd run away early again but he answered that question in the first turn of the feature. That crazy bastard must have flipped his throttle switch to on a bit early and forgot to activate his steering switch or something because he wadded up the car in turn one seconds after the green flag dropped. Well, they say he's always entertaining I guess. The caution moved a fella to the front row that hasn't been talked about much recently, Ryan Markham. Markham has run decent most nights but just seemed to lack something so far this year. He sure as hell wasn't lacking anything this week and I don't remember the last time I saw him this hungry for a win. Splitting cars when the hole isn't quite there yet is something Markham usually avoids but not this week and it paid off. He picked up his first feature win of the season as his reward. The action behind him was impressive but nobody was gonna take this one away from him. Nice run Ryan!
Now for the drama of the night. All the years I've spent in racing including the years as a track official, I've wished for just one thing over all else. I wish that racers and especially fans would take the time to read and understand the rules and race procedures before ranting, raving, and in many cases making asses of themselves. In case you weren't there, here's what happened. I'll leave the names out for now so it doesn't cloud your judgment. On the last lap the leader caused a wreck coming out of turn 4 to take the checkers. He then pulled into victory lane only be told that he'd been charged with the wreck and scored at the end of the lead lap. The second place car was then pulled into victory lane as he should have been and given the win. That's when the fans went nuts things got ugly. Here's the deal as it has always been at all area tracks as long as I can remember. No matter what position you're racing for on the last lap, if you cause a wreck as the checkers come out the race isn't stopped by a yellow. You're simply scored as if the yellow came out and the field realigned. The cars you wrecked are scored in their position before you took them out. Simple enough right? Some fans complained that there was no yellow flag. There never is in this situation and for a couple of good reasons. The last half of the final lap is when drivers are probably the most aggressive and doing whatever they can to pick up that extra spot or claim the win. First of all if the checkers are already out and over the railing of the flagstand, the drivers up front expect the race to be over becaue the checkers are "out". Nobody is looking for a yellow light or flag at that point of the final lap but if some were to spot it and lift while others didn't see it, there'd be one hell of a mess caused by non other than the track officials. That wouldn't be pretty. The second good reason in this case is that in the time it takes a Modified to cover the ground from the exit of turn 4 to the flagstand you'd have to be a ninja to switch flags and/or trip the yellow light. Trust me, I've been there and it's not as easy as it looks. If you need yet another reason for how this race was scored think about this. You're in the cockpit leading the race on the final lap. On your way to the checkers you take out a couple cars that were "in your way" causing a mess for those chasing you to the checkers. Do you really feel that you should be given the win and not penalized for causing the wreck? Seriously? Some complained about the cars that got taken out because they were about to be lapped and had been shown the passing flag. The rule on the passing flag is explained each and every week at the drivers meeting. If you're shown this flag you are to hold your line because the leaders are coming up on you. You are not expected to pull over and let them go, simply hold your line so they know where to expect you to be so they can get by you. The leaders are told that it's their responsablity to get by you cleanly and if they take you out the penalty is on them. It couldnt be made more clear than that, and this is exactly how the situation was handled. CORRECTLY!
Now, let's throw in the names of those involved and sadly you'll see why things got ugly. The leader that caused the wreck was Jess Hartman. The second place car that was given the win was Kevin Morehouse. It's no secret that the fans don't much care for Morehouse, and deep down inside I don't know of any track officials that do either. That makes their job even more important as they don't let that get in the way of making calls. Personally, I think of Morehouse about the same as I think of Tony Stewart. There's no denying his talent, I sometimes agree with what he has to say, but quite often he's simply a whiny ass cry baby bitch! I'd rather have sharp stick in my eye than cheer for Morehouse but after hearing the crowd Saturday night I actually considered it. The call was made correctly and the staff had the balls to stand by it knowing that it wouldn't be popular. That's not favoritism as some have claimed. That's simply doing the right thing even though they obviously knew there would be backlash from the fans. That's what true professionals do and I salute them for it.
My whole problem with this situation is this. For those of you that threw hissy fits because the win was handed to Morehouse, how would you have reacted if the spots were reversed and the win taken away from Morehouse? How would you have reacted if Norm was the second place car and given the win? Be honest. The problem here is becoming all too common in all aspects of our lives. Right or wrong is all too often shoved aside in favor of personal preference. That's just wrong and I'm very happy to see that the officials and staff at Hilltop didn't take the easy way out. Hats off to ya!