The brand new Bay Area Modifieds series kicked off its inaugural season on Saturday, April 11, at Alabama’s Flomaton Speedway with a great amount of controversy. The top four finishers were disqualified after the race by series officials. The fifth-place driver, Jason Barnhill, was awarded the victory. But what makes all of this even crazier, is that Barnhill wasn’t even on the track when the checkered flag waved at the end of 25 laps.
The top three drivers were disqualified for having stud girdles in the car, which is not allowed according to series director, Jay Wells.
“Several of the guys were running stud girdles which under IMCA rules are not allowed,” Wells told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We are a new series. We are bringing IMCA back to the area. We had a meeting in early January with all the drivers in attendance. We discussed rules and we agreed that engines and shocks were our two main priorities and had to be 100-percent IMCA legal.”
A stud girdle goes on the rocker arm studs and “stabilizes the valve train, as well as encourages the use of a larger cam shaft” according to Dave Brenn, the Director of Division Development for IMCA. Brenn was at Flomaton on Saturday night and oversaw post race technical inspection.
Brenn explained that the reason why stud girdles are not allowed is in part to keep costs down, but also for competitive purposes as well.
“Years ago we had roller cams and aluminum heads and all that good stuff,” Brenn said. “Over time we’ve removed all that because it encourages too much spending and more horsepower than we have tire. It’s about parity and keeping costs in line.
“It’s an awkward situation, but those are the rules and we follow the rules and maintain the rules.”
The Bay Area Modifieds are sanctioned by IMCA, a choice Wells made specifically.
“One of the reasons I went with IMCA was because with 100 years of experience as a sanctioning body, and in Modifieds since 1979, they have a strict set of rules,” Wells said. “Violations have defined penalties so that’s exactly what we went by. We had an IMCA representative on sight inspecting the cars to make sure we were doing it right at our first event. It’s plain as day in the one paragraph of engine rules that stud girdles are not allowed. That carries a penalty of disqualification and no points, so that’s what we did.”
Kyle Rutkoski crossed the finish line first, followed by Nathan Ingersoll, Joey Moxley, and Jason Lockwood. They were the only four cars running at the finish. Barnhill pulled off the track just before lap 25 with mechanical issues. He was fifth at the time.
“He was the first legal car in line,” said Wells. “So in essence, the race ended when he pulled off the track.”
How can a driver who wasn’t on the track for the end of the race at its scheduled distance be declared the winner?
“The way I look at it is he did start the race,” Wells said. “He ran the majority of it and he was the next car in line. As cars get disqualified you of course move to the next car. He was the first legal car that had run the feature. He would have been awarded points for that position. It was a legal start and a legal finish. We just reverted back to him and made him the winner.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Bay Area Modifieds Photo