With five laps to go in last Friday night’s PASS South Super Late Model race at South Carolina’s Anderson Motor Speedway, Matt Craig and Dalton Sargeant lined up on the front row to fight for the win. The pair beat, bumped and slammed on each other in the final laps before the battle came to a controversial end.
Going into turn one on the last lap with Craig on the outside, Sargeant ran Craig wide and got the advantage off of turn two. Craig chased down Sargeant and entering turn three he gave Sargeant a shot in the rear. The contact was strong enough to send Sargeant spinning.
As Sargeant tried to straighten himself out, Craig went on to take the checkered flag, but his win didn’t stand for long. PASS officials quickly penalized Craig for excessive rough driving and sent him to the rear of the field, handing the win to Roger Lee Newton.
“I went into three and I wanted to just move him out of the way and take the win, but I got into him a little harder than I was thinking I would, and he spun around,” Craig told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Craig said he understands PASS’ rule and knows that he was correctly penalized at the end of Friday’s race.
“PASS’ rule is kind of anything goes on the last lap unless the leader gets spun out,” Craig explained. “The leader got spun out. So they’re in the right as far as that goes. We were upset with it just because we had the more dominant car throughout the race, but I guess it leaves it up to me to finish out the race on that last caution.”
After the call was made to penalize Craig, he walked over to the inside pit wall and had a conversation with Sargeant’s car owner, Bond Suss.
“He was there kind of arguing with one of my crew guys,” said Craig. “I thought it made no sense arguing with them so I thought I’d just tell him my side. He didn’t really say a whole lot, so I think he knew he was kind of in the wrong just a little bit. I knew I was in the wrong a little bit too. There was no heated argument between us and them.”
Craig said there will be no hard feelings moving forward on his end, and he and Sargeant proved that on Saturday night at the PASS South race at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway. Craig and Sargeant raced near each other much of the race without incident and finished second and third respectively.
“At Hickory we kind of just showed up and felt the best revenge would be to out run them straight up,” he said. “We both have big dreams, so we just move on to the next week and do what we can do.”
Now that Craig has had a few days to think back on what happened on Saturday night, he said he doesn’t have any regrets about what happened.
“At the end of the day we both did what we thought we had to do to win the race. It was a rougher way. It sucks that we had the win taken away, but I’d rather it go down the way it did than have him rough us up and go on and win it.”
When asked by Speed51 for his side of the incident, Dalton Sargeant politely declined to comment.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo