With $5,000 on the line, the SK Modified division battled in a 75-lap season finale Sunday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT). At the end of the night, the driver taking home the biggest paycheck of the season wasn’t the one celebrating in Victory Lane at Connecticut’s shoreline oval.
Originally, Modified veteran Ted Christopher was the driver celebrating in Victory Lane after making a late pass on NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Ryan Preece. But following post-race technical inspection, Preece inherited the victory when Christopher was penalized for a fuel violation.
On Monday morning, Speed51.com spoke with Ted Christopher, Prestige Motorsports co-owner Doug DiPisa, and New London-Waterford Speedbowl general manager Shawn Monahan.
Christopher did not have much information on the situation after leaving the track prior to the post-race technical inspection process on Sunday night.
“They’re still going through that, that’s up to the car owners to figure out,” Christopher said. “They had some issues with the fuel. The 72 (Paul Kusheba, also disqualified) and us came up with the same numbers when we both bought ten gallons from one truck and ten from the other. I don’t know why we both exactly have the same number, which is off by two points. It seems awful odd. They’re supposed to send the fuel out and check it I guess.
“If we were the only ones that had that, we were off a little bit, I could understand that. But, when the 72 and us both came out with the same exact number when we both bought ten gallons from one truck and ten from the other, that just seems awful odd. I just talked to the car owners. I didn’t even know until this morning, I had gone home already.”
Doug DiPisa was on site at the track Sunday night for inspection and spoke after breaking the news to the team’s fans on Facebook earlier Monday morning.
“The DQ they just put up this morning, they told me at first they were going to send the samples out and then make a call, but I guess they nixed that, I don’t know.
“Last night Shawn Courchesne (of RaceDayCT.com) called me on the way home and he wanted to know. He heard a rumor that we were getting DQ’d and I told him I had no idea.”
DiPisa indicated that to his knowledge the track planned to test the fuel before making the disqualification official and was surprised to see that the ruling was made official so soon.
“That’s the common denominator with the two cars. My car and the 72 car (Paul) Kusheba, we’re not affiliated or anything. Our specific gravity numbers came up exactly the same and the chances of that are really slim and he also got gas out of the two different trucks. I called John Holland (of Sunoco Racing Fuels) today and of course he’s not going to say anything’s wrong with his stuff. But you had rain all that weekend and stuff and water, condensation water makes the specific gravity heavier and I have a tester in my trailer and I tested it and mine was one point off of theirs. But it changes by temperature and I don’t know what the other guys have in their car when they got the fuel or what trucks they got the fuel out of.”
When reached on Monday morning, track general manager Shawn Monahan said the rules infraction by the No. 13 team was cut and dry.
“What’s the rule infraction? They are not running the spec fuel,” he said. “As the general manager of the facility I have put in place an absolutely thorough technical staff. They tested the fuel and it absolutely does not match the spec fuel. The spec fuel, the fuel out of the 13 (Christopher) car, and the 72 (Kusheba), has already been brought to Sunoco Racing Fuels. But as far as I’m concerned it is not out of one of those trucks and that is what was determined by my technical staff and I am not going to overturn their decision.”
DiPisa told Speed51.com on Monday that he plans on attempting to appeal the call made by officials at the track.
“I’m going to try,” he said. “They have my fuel, they have the fuel trucks there, so I’m from the streets, I don’t really trust anybody. I told John Holland I wanted to send it out and he said he was waiting to hear back from the track and he said he would send it out. I don’t know, I can’t sit there and babysit these guys to find out.”
Monahan said on Monday that he is not in a position where he could consider overturning the call with the current facts/information presented to him.
“I am going to continue to communicate with my technical staff throughout the day like I have been,” Monahan stated. “But, I don’t see what’s appealable if it’s not the correct fuel.”
DiPisa, who said via the Prestige Motorsports Facebook page that the team’s future plans at the Speedbowl were up in the air, told 51 that he was already thinking about scaling back prior to the disqualification on Sunday.
“I was thinking about backing down a little bit and then a conversation happened up at the track in way that would appease what I wanted to do. I don’t know. I got to see. I got to see what’s…there’s all these rumors up at the track that there’s management change and all that stuff, I haven’t heard anything,” DiPisa stated. “I don’t know what’s happening up there or anything. I didn’t have fun this year, they got us every which way they could possibly get us and it just wasn’t fun anymore.”
DiPisa had not spoken with anyone from the Speedbowl as of 11 a.m. on Monday morning.
“No, the only one I talked to is John Holland and the guys in tech from last night, but that was not today. I left a message for (Bruce) Bemer, waiting to hear back from him.”
At this point, DiPisa hopes to hear more from those involved in the process but understands that as time passes it will be more difficult to appeal the ruling.
“It’s their ballpark, that’s the only thing,” he admitted. “I can’t, like now, there’s so many things going on right now. Like now it’s all sunny out, the trucks are probably in the sun right now, condensation is going off, I mean who knows, I don’t know, those are just thoughts. It rained all weekend. There’s so many things going through my mind of why this is going on and all that stuff.”
Speed51 will provide any further updates as this story develops.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, Long Island) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen