STATESVILLE, NC – Cathy Rice reiterated her stance that Forrest Reynolds should have been the only person penalized for Saturday’s incident at South Boston Speedway with Lee Pulliam.
Rice, speaking exclusively with Race22 Radio on Thursday, discussed the incident and the aftermath – stating that Forrest Reynolds, crew chief for Philip Morris, was the only person involved in her eyes and that Lee Pulliam was protecting himself when he drove away with Reynolds still hanging from his car.
“It’s not really but one person that’s involved in this whole thing and that is Mr. Reynolds himself,” Rice told Race22 Radio. “When we were under red flag after a wreck with the 01, Forrest took it upon himself to go out and go on the racetrack. He threw his radio at the windshield of the 5 car. Once he did that, he went around to get in the passenger side of the racecar. When he did, Lee, I am sure to protect himself, pulled off to keep Forrest from, I guess his intentions were to disable the car so that the 5 car could not continue.”
Rice felt the incident with Reynolds was different than a previous incident that took place in 2016 when Peyton Sellers disconnected Pulliam’s ignition box because Saturday’s on track altercation was not amongst drivers.
“When a driver’s in a racecar, they’re strapped in. They barely can move their head. They have spotters who help them with cars coming up beside them or behind them. They’re focused on straight ahead. Lee, at that point, did not know what was happening until Forrest actually got into the other side of the car. He didn’t know if he was going to hurt him or disable the car. His reaction was just like anyone else’s.”
Rice noted that, when she submitted her penalty report to NASCAR, she wanted Forrest Reynolds to be suspended indefinitely and fined $1,000. When all was said and done, NASCAR elected to bar Reynolds from getting a NASCAR license until 2020, fined Philip Morris $1,000, and suspended Lee Pulliam until April 17th and fined him $1,500.
“I’m very sorry it happened and I’m very happy he’s not hurt,” Rice explained. “We sent in a recommendation to suspend Forrest from South Boston Speedway and fine him $1,000. We’re also going to suspend him from even being a fan at South Boston Speedway. What he did was a little bit different. You couldn’t calm him down. Normally, our officials can go to the person who’s heated at the time if something happens and they say, ‘hey let’s calm down and go back o the haulers and talk about this.’ And they do.
“With this incident, it wasn’t that way. There was no calming him down and we saw that. Me and Nick, we both got together and decided we would suspend him indefinitely and fine him $1,000.”
Rice said the suspension is indefinite and will last at least through the year, but that her and track CEO Nick Igdalsky will revisit.
“Right now it’s indefinite. We will revisit it at the time. Nick and I will get together and see how things come along throughout the year but, right now, it’s through this year.”
As Saturday’s incident went viral, racers and fans became critical of a South Boston Speedway official for not being forceful in trying to deescalate the situation. Rice defended her track officials.
“My officials that are working for me at the track, they don’t do it for a living,” Rice commented. “Most of the ones I have is because of the friendship that I have. He did not just stand there. He done what he was supposed to do. We have been told so many times that we cannot put our hands on a competitor, crew member or anything.
“In this day and time, you can’t because we don’t know what lawsuits will come of it. He did not stand there. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. Who is the most important person there? He’s going to protect himself as well, just like Lee did, he protected himself.”