Race Coverage/ Daily & Internet
Thomas Pope, Fayetteville Observer
WEIGHTY ISSUE AT FMS
Word to Yogi Berra: In dirt-track racing, it’s not over when it’s over just because the checkered flag waved. It’s not over until the weigh-in is finished.
Tim Allen of Kannapolis emerged as the Carolina Clash series’ feature winner Saturday night at Fayetteville Motor Speedway despite not leading a lap.
Springwood’s Doug Sanders crossed the finish line first, but when his car crossed the scales, it was eight pounds below the minimum of 2,250
That dropped Sanders to last – 24th place – and handed Allen his second Clash win in less than a month. It was a triumph worth $5,000.
“I had already weighed and just about got across the track and (Clash officials) told me Doug was light. We were way heavy,” Allen said. “I hate to win them like this, but you have to take them any way you can get them.”
It was the final shocker in a wild last 11 laps. Race leader and five-time reigning series champ Ricky Weeks led 29 laps before suffering a pair of flat tires on lap 39. That handed the lead to points leader Jeff Smith, whose worn right-rear tire blew out as he took the white flag.
Sanders dove to the inside heading into the first corner, then collided with Smith hard enough to lift both of Sanders’ rear wheels off the ground. Somehow, he hung out and made it back to the finish line in front, followed by Allen, Scott Autry, Shawn Beasley and Smith.
But then there was the weigh-in, where Sanders first tipped the scales at 2,241 pounds, said Clash president Larry Lee, then at 2,242 on a recheck. Sanders was disqualified and everybody else moved up a notch.
“The thing that killed me was all the cautions – caution after caution, and them restarts, you use a lot of fuel on them,” Sanders said. “Eight pounds light, but we smoked their (expletive).”
Weeks, who was comfortably ahead until lap-39 problems, disagreed.
“We had them covered – by a mile,” he said. “I ran over something big. I seen it, but I couldn’t miss it. I whipped to miss it, then hit it with right-side tires.”
Smith then moved to the head of the pack, and there he stayed until the final lap.
“I blew a tire off of (turn) four – it was flat down the frontstretch,” said Smith, who pocketed $10,000 in April when Vic Coffey suffered a flat tire on the last lap of a World of Outlaws Late Model show at the speedway.
“I slowed down and Doug had the line, but my car turned sideways when I throttled up. It wasn’t anything intentional. I was doing all I could do to hang on.”
Allen, meanwhile, was riding in third with a bird’s-eye view of the collision.
“I could tell about four laps earlier that Jeff was having some issues with the right rear, and I knew Doug was going to give him a run for his money,” Allen said.
“When they got together, I thought, ‘Aw, man, here comes Jeff, he’s going to cross up right in front of me and take the rest of us out,’ but we held on and got by him.”
The win was Allen’s third in Clash competition dating back to the 2008 season. He said he’d needed a Limited Late Model win in Gastonia on Friday night to afford the trip to Fayetteville.
“The first eight laps, I ran up on the high side of the track and just rode, not racing the cars in front of me; just riding around in the groove, trying to stay out out of trouble and trying to survive,” he said.
“I don’t have much money at all, so I have to use my head. That’s the best thing about winning tonight – it’ll give us the money to travel to the next couple of races.”