As Nick Jenkins drove around Wiscasset Speedway (ME) in the runner-up position during the closing laps of Sunday’s Boss Hog 150, his pit crew told him he was going to win the race whether he crossed the finish line first or second. Although he didn’t end up pulling his No. 32 Pro Stock into victory lane, he did end up taking home the $5,000 check when apparent winner Garrett Hall was disqualified for a tire violation.
Hall of Scarborough, Maine was the class of the field for the majority of the 150-lap race but suffered a flat left-rear tire after contact with fellow contender Mike Hopkins during the second half of the race. Like most drivers would do, Hall made his way down pit road to change the tire.
The only problem: he didn’t have a left-side tire remaining in his inventory.
Because the race was a six-tire race, teams were given the option to have two right-side tires, two left-side tires, or a left and a right-side tire as registered spares. Hall, like many other teams, elected to go with the two right-side tires in order to give himself the best chance at reaching victory lane.
It was a gamble, and ultimately it was one that didn’t pay off given the tire rule for the race.
“We decided that we would change two rights so we bought six tires, two lefts and four rights. We came in around lap 90 and changed out two rights. We came back out and Mike Hopkins got into my left rear and it cut my tire,” Hall explained.
“There were four guys that bought a left and a right and sixteen guys that bought two rights, so I guess it’s kind of one of those things where we got the bad end of the stick.”
Jenkins, meanwhile, was rewarded with the biggest victory of his racing career.
“One of my guys came on the radio there towards the end of the race and said, ‘We just want you to know the 94 (Hall) took three tires and you’re not supposed to do that. You’re probably going to win this race even if you finish second,’” Jenkins said.
“I feel bad for him in a way, but at the end of the day I was trying to run him down and catch him. I was right there, I just needed a little bit more and he had three tires and I had two. That was probably the little bit more I needed to get the job done.”
Jenkins, who will go down as the official winner of the race, also elected to go with the two right-side tires strategy. For him, it was a move that paid off despite the risks that came along with it.
“We went with right-side tires. We wanted to change two rights and knew that if we got a flat left we were going to be done for the day. That was just the way that the rules were written,” Jenkins told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We took a gamble on it like we did. If you wanted to win that race you better put right-side tires on and we knew that’s what we were going to have to do going there so we were set to do that.”
After swapping out the flat left-rear tire for a practice tire with approximately 100 laps on it, Hall returned to the race track and drove to the front of the field. He celebrated the win in victory lane and was interviewed by track announcer and promoter Ken Minott as the race winner. But it was at that time that Minott started hearing talk about a potential illegal tire change.
“I was in the middle of doing my victory lane interviews and there was some chatter going on that I could kind of see out of the corner of my eyes,” Minott recalled. “Nick Jenkins, who at the time was the runner up, had been talking with my race director. Bill (Acritelli) pulled me aside after my victory lane interviews and said that the 32 (Jenkins) team says that the 94 (Hall) put on three tires instead of two. At that time, I radioed to tech and said, ‘Here’s what the chatter is, let’s make sure you check everything when you get down there.’
When Hall arrived in post-race technical inspection it was discovered that the tire on his left rear was not in his registered inventory, resulting in his disqualification from the race.
“With racing with PASS and everything like that I never thought it would be a deal where if we got a flat we wouldn’t be able to change it,” Hall stated. “There was just kind of confusion and not being prepared on our part I guess, but I just don’t think it was right on either end.
“I understand what they’re doing by trying to make the race a little bit more exciting for the fans by changing tires and everything like that, which is cool, but it was my first time up there, how was I supposed to know that I couldn’t have any spare tires? I wasn’t informed of that at all. It’s not like I put on a tire that had 10 laps on it.”
Minott, who is now in his fifth year of promoting Wiscasset Speedway, acknowledged a loop hole in the tire rule and accepted some of the responsibility on the track’s behalf; however, he also stated that the track had to enforce the rules that were in place for the race.
“Some of the responsibility lays in our hands, too. About forty minutes or so after the race ended I went to see Garrett Hall and his team and told them that part of this lands on us,” Minott said. “This was a scenario that we didn’t take into consideration when we made the tire rule. This is something that we should take into consideration moving forward.
“I like the fact that this was a six-tire race, but I think we need to account for something like this happening in the future. We’re relatively new at this big-race game, the Jordans (track owners, Richard and Vanessa) and myself as a promoter. The consensus from yesterday is that, yeah the rule sucks the way it was worded and how it was done, but we had to enforce the rule as it was. It wouldn’t be right for us, for any of our other competitors or fans to make an exception because we didn’t account for it when we made the tire rule. We had to go with what we had for rules and enforce those, and then we’ll fix it and take it into consideration next year.”
Despite being disappointed with how the day ended, Hall handled the disqualification with class after the race.
“From our perspective, while they were definitely disappointed with how the day ended, they handled it with a level of class and professionalism that is increasingly rare in this business,” Minott stated.
Jenkins’ victory on Sunday afternoon ended a streak of bad luck for the Brownville, Maine driver in some of the biggest Late Model races in his home state. After watching races such as the Long John at Unity Raceway (ME) and the Coastal 200 at Wiscasset slip out of his fingers, he was glad to finally capture a big one.
“It means a lot. We had a lot of things happen a couple years ago, we were running a Late Model car I owned and we were really strong with it. The Long John at Unity we thought we had in our hands and the battery went flat during a caution with twenty laps to go. Also, a couple weeks before that they had a 150 at Speedway 95, that’s my home track, and I was going by (Mike) Hopkins for the lead and we ended up getting put to the rear.
“It feels good to finally capture one of these. I have a lot of people who help me get to victory lane, including Davis Chassis Works, Neptunes Havest, Frameco and Kerry Karst. It’s good to be able to get a victory for everyone. Hopefully we can keep the momentum rolling.”
Cody Tribbett of Richmond and former race winner Wyatt Alexander of Ellsworth earned the final two podium spots on Sunday, while James Osmond and Jeff Burgess completed the top five.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Peter & Mary Taylor
Boss Hogg 150 Official Results
Wiscasset Speedway (ME) – July 30, 2017
|5||34||Jeff Burgess||Fairfield||149||1 Lap|
|6||15x||Scott Chubbuck||Bowdoin||149||1 Lap|
|7||01x||Joe Decker||Chesterville||149||1 Lap|
|8||14||Mike Hopkins||Bangor||112||38 Laps|
|9||29||Kevin Morse||Woolwich||110||40 Laps|
|10||15||Nick Hinkley||Wiscasset||109||41 Laps|
|11||32||Mike Orr||Wiscasset||103||47 Laps|
|12||13||Nate Tribbett||Richmond||82||68 Laps|
|13||84||Jamie Wright||Woolwich||72||78 Laps|
|14||05D||Jacob Dore||Sanford||53||97 Laps|
|15||09||Daren Ripley||Thomaston||20||130 Laps|
|16||51||John Peters||Westbrook||20||130 Laps|
|17||88x||Wes Turner||Freedom||8||142 Laps|
|DNS||7||Nick Reno||West Bath||DNS|