The clock struck midnight at technical inspection for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300
at Martinsville Speedway.
Jeff Oakley and Deac McCaskill had qualified first and second on Friday evening for tomorrow’s race, the only two spots guaranteed for the feature. However, both drivers failed post-qualifying inspection for the famed Late Model Stock Car race. As a result, Jake Crum and Stacy Puryear are locked onto the front row for tomorrow’s 200-lap feature.
“The front two cars in the qualifying process had their times disallowed because of issues,” race director Lynn Carroll said. “The 11 car [of Jeff Oakley] had a spacer-plate (violation) under the carburetor, which is not allowed for this event. The 08 [of Deac McCaskill] had an issue with the squirters on the carburetor on his car.”
When asked to elaborate on McCaskill’s infraction, Carroll said simply, “The squirter had been altered.”
For McCaskill, it was a disheartening blow to what had been a strong start to the weekend.
“It sucks, man,” McCaskill told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It’s not an advantage. It’s a disadvantage. They’ve got to make a call, and be honest with their calls all the time. I’ve got to go to the rear for either the last chance or the heat race. They’re going to let me know.”
When asked how the inspection failures impacted Oakley and McCaskill’s status for tomorrow’s race, Carroll said more homework needed to be done on what had already been a long night.
“We’ve got to look, read all the entry blanks and everything to see,” Carroll said. “They will either be at the tail-end of the heat race or the tail-end of the last chance race.”
Both drivers had passed inspection prior to practice, according to Carroll.
“We take the carburetors off and inspect them, but we do not inspect them when we put them back on the car,” Carroll said. “It’s up to the competitors to read the entry blank. This race is unique because we have so many engine combinations, so sometimes the rules are different than they would be at another track. That’s what we have to do to equalize the competition.”
Despite the bitter disappointment, McCaskill was able to put things into perspective following the technical inspection snafu.
“I feel really sick, but the more I think about it, there are a lot more important things in life,” McCaskill said. “I’ve got a great family at home. It just sucks.”
As a result, Jake Crum starts on the pole for tomorrow’s race, with Stacy Puryear alongside.
“It means a lot,” Crum said about the pole. “It means a lot to the fans, the media, everyone who has put a lot into this. Hopefully we can bring it home with a win, first time under the lights.”
“It’s pretty amazing,” Puryear said. “I’m obviously excited. We were excited to qualify fourth. To be on the front row now and not have to run a heat race, I’m pretty excited. We knew he had a good race car in practice. I’m just amazed that we are here.”
With Crum and Puryear locked into the field, the remaining 80-plus competitors will compete in one of three 25-lap heat races to start Saturday’s racing program. The top ten finishers in each heat race will advance to the feature, with the remaining drivers competing for ten spots in a 25-lap last chance qualifier.
Story by: Zach Evans
Photo by: Speed51.com