There’s a belief in short track racing that a full moon above a short track breeds craziness on the track. The moon above Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday night was not a full moon. It was a waning gibbous moon, which is the phase that comes just after a full moon. Apparently nobody told the drivers that it wasn’t a full moon because there was still plenty of craziness at the historic 0.363-mile oval.
With one lap to go in the 150-lap CARS Tour Super Late Model feature, Brandon Setzer pulled a bump-and-run move on leader Raphael Lessard. Lessard’s Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 slid up the track just enough for Setzer’s red No. 6 to get by. In turn three Lessard returned the favor, but this bump resulted in Setzer going for a spin. Lessard received a penalty from race control.
As a result of the incident, Chris Dilbeck went on to celebrate in victory lane after holding off Chandler Smith on a green-white-checkered restart.
While Dilbeck celebrated, a fight ensued behind him in the pits as Setzer ran from his pit area in turn one to confront the KBM crew. Setzer found Lessard’s crew chief, Cody Glick, who wrestled Setzer to the ground.
On Saturday, Setzer declined to comment on the incident, but now on Monday afternoon, Setzer said he was ready to talk about what happened, although he hasn’t cooled down much.
“It’s still just kind of a heartbreaker how everything ended up there,” Setzer told Speed51.com. “It’s two weeks in a row. I’m just disappointed in Super Late Model racing in general. I’m just bummed in general.”
Setzer referenced an incident with Stephen Nasse at Orange County Speedway (NC) one race prior as something that added to his frustration.
“I think it was just everything came to a boiling point. There’s just so many different things adding up here lately. The cars have been great. My dad has put killer good cars under me. We’ve had a shot to win every race. Every race this year if we haven’t won we’ve been close.”
The second-generation driver said he felt that his move in turn one on Lessard was a fair move. He added that he wasn’t sure what Lessard’s plan was in turn three, but he said he wasn’t at all surprised about what happened.
“Ever since Raphael came on the series two or three years ago he’s run us dirty and he’s kind of raced everyone else like that. He took us out at Kenly. I wasn’t surprised. He ran Dilbeck up the track. He kind of took Dilbeck out of the race. If it wasn’t for him taking us out, I don’t think Dilbeck would have got back. Dilbeck had the best car but he couldn’t get away from the 51. Anytime the 51 was close enough to run him over he’d just run him over.”
Our attempts to reach Lessard for this story were unsuccessful, but on Saturday at Hickory Lessard told our reporters, “I race people like they race me.
“The restart before I got hit really hard. I want to race clean, but I’ll race how they race me. He almost dumped me twice. That’s what happened. I raced them like they raced me.”
The 22-year-old Setzer said his plan when he went sprinting into Lessard’s pit was to “show my displeasure, to say the least” to the 16-year-old Lessard. Instead, Setzer ran into Glick, and the fight was on from there. Race fans can watch video of the fight now on the Speed51 Network.
“I wasn’t going to do anything to Raphael. I was definitely going to show him my displeasure to say the least, but I wasn’t going to lay my hands on him by any means. He’s a kid.”
When asked if he plans on trying to talk with Lessard to clear things up going forward, Setzer said he wasn’t sure if a conversation is in the cards.
“It’s hard to talk to somebody like that honestly. It’s just hard to relate to a different breed of short track racing. It’s just hard to relate to somebody that doesn’t work on their own stuff and doesn’t put the time in. It’s just kind of hard to relate to somebody that can show up and drive a race car and pay big bucks to just show up and wheel the thing.”
One thing Setzer said he is sure about is the way in which he will race near Lessard the next time, especially if they’re both going for the win at the end of the race.
“The 51 is definitely not going to get any extra room. We’ll put it that way. We’ll make sure he doesn’t get any extra inches there. If we’re in the opposite situation where we’re trailing him in the last corner of the last lap I’ll make sure that he gets maybe a little bit harder of a bump than he got in one and two.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com