A protest was filed by Bubba Pollard following Saturday night’s Show Me the Money Series race at Montgomery Motor Speedway. Pollard, who finished second in the race, protested the ignition box on the race-winning No. 81 Anthony Campi Racing Pro Late Model driven by Colby Howard.
In addition to the protest filed by Pollard, the digital dash from Campi’s car was also taken as part of the race track’s post-race technical inspection process. According to General Manager Stan Narrison, this testing was planned prior to the event and is not linked to the protest that was eventually filed by Pollard.
“Basically what happened is that we do have a protest procedure in our rules. Bubba Pollard filed a protest immediately after the race for the ignition system,” Narrison told Speed51.com. “He thought the pitch was a little bit different and just wanted it checked. Not only did we take the box from the 81 (Howard), but we also took the box from the 26 (Pollard) also. They’re sending both of those off to be tested. We felt that we needed to take it further than just the field testing of it. That’s being handled through Nicholas Rogers and Ricky Brooks.
“Then the issue came up about the dashboard. We had already decided (to take the dashboard) before the event that the next time we had one of these, because I’m not a real big proponent of digital dashes in Late Model racing. So, we had already planned if we had a digital dash in the top three to pull that dash and have it checked. It wasn’t anything specific after Campi; it just happened that it was already our procedure we were going to go through and then we got the protest on top of it. We still did what we were planning to do, which was to pull that dash out and have that tested.”
While appearing on Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” Monday morning, Pollard indicated that he filed the protest due to what he believed to be a difference in sound between the Campi car and other cars that were competing.
“It’s nothing against Anthony Campi Racing,” Pollard said. “They have a great program and great race car drivers; they’re hard to beat. That’s a great team, a great organization, and they lead it well. They do a great job; they have fast race cars. When you get to the race track in qualifying and a few cars sound different than your car and a lot of others cars, it raises your eyebrows and raises your attention to some opportunities that are going on. That’s the biggest thing.”
According to Campi, Pollard approached the team during post-race technical inspection and explained why he was filing the protest. Campi took the protest as a compliment and is confident that the ignition box will prove to be legal.
“I liked it. He came up to me and told me like a man that this was what was going down,” Campi stated. “He explained his reasons and his concerns from his end as a driver. I told him that I definitely won’t take any offense to it at all. It’s good for the sport to make sure everyone stays in line and is on an equal playing field. I told him it was a compliment to us and that’s how we’re going to take it.”
Pollard went on to explain his belief that the difference in sound between Campi’s Pro Late Model and other Pro Late Models competing Saturday night was more noticeable during qualifying. After being passed by Howard for the win on a late-race restart and finishing second, Pollard had the opportunity to address his concerns and file an official protest of the ignition box.
“Their car just sounds a lot different than a lot of the other cars on the race track and you can really point it out during qualifying,” Pollard said. “Did he outrun us because of that? No, but as a competitor I want to feel like we’re all on the same playing field and I want to get to the bottom of why his car sounds different than our cars when we hit the chip.
“To explain to everyone how it works: we’re pulling the same gears pretty much, everyone is really close. When you hit the chip, it cuts out cylinders. I just feel like for example, I feel like mine is maybe a hard touch where it cuts out all cylinders where his I feel like cuts out on maybe four (cylinders). His just sounds different, a softer touch box, and I feel like we need to get to the bottom of it.”
When it comes to the sound of his race car, Campi believes a variety of factors beyond the ignition box could lead to his car sounding different than Pollard’s car or any other car competing.
“We’ve got 10 ignition boxes in our shop with all the cars we have and all the racing we do,” Campi stated. “There have been generations of them that have come out throughout the years and some sound different than others. Some people’s exhaust changes that, some people’s motors; whether you’re running a muffler or not running a muffler. There’s a lot of variables to the sound than just what you hear when it’s on the chip.
“I guess there’s been some talk, or at least he portrayed that it’s been talked about by a few people. Quite frankly, it’s not something I’ve even noticed. I’ve always felt like each car always sounds a little different depending on the package of parts you build it with. I guess it’s up in question now but we’re definitely not worried about it. We just take it as a positive for our program and what we’re doing.”
Campi and Pollard both agreed that filing the protest is a good thing for short track racing. The process ensures that drivers are on a level playing field and allows teams to bring up legitimate concerns when they have them.
“We liked it. It’s fun,” Campi said. “Obviously, it’s taken up a little bit of our time with all the people who have heard about it, but it’s a good problem to have. I feel good about it. I felt good about beating Bubba. Colby felt good about it. The manner and adversity we had to overcome to do it. I think if Augie won the race, I don’t think they would have took his box or distributor because I think Augie, in Bubba’s mind or other people’s minds, is capable of beating Bubba. I don’t think people can digest that Colby Howard is capable of beating Bubba so soon in his progression in Pro Late Model racing. It’s fine and it’s totally understandable, but we like it.”
“I think it’s cool for short track racing,” Pollard stated. “I didn’t want to get on social media and whine and cry and bitch and say he cheats, this, that and the other. We’ll take care of it how it’s supposed to be. If someone has a problem with my race car, I would feel like they would do the same to me. It’s nothing against those guys, I think it’s good for short track racing. He should feel honored to have his race car protested. I’d want somebody to do it to me if they thought I was cheating. We’ll see how it goes and where it lands from here.”
Testing on the ignition boxes will be conducted at an independent testing lab in Daytona early this week with Montgomery Motor Speedway Race Director/Competition Director Nicholas Rogers overseeing the process.
Speed51.com will continue to provide updates on this story as they become available.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com