Commentary by: Langley Austin — langley@RACE22.com
Wytheville, VA(May 19, 2009) — What’s not to Love about Ace Speedway???
Friday night was another example of why Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, NC is the hidden jewel in the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car world. Ace doesn’t get the kind of press and exposure of a Motor Mile, Caraway or Hickory and they certainly don’t have the biggest car counts in this region, but the little odd shaped 4/10 mile track produces some of the best racing anywhere.
Last Friday night was my first trip to Ace Speedway this season after only getting to go to a couple of events there last season since we moved from Callaway, VA(only an hour North of Ace) to Wytheville, VA(nearly three hours away). I really have never been disappointed in a trip there and Friday I found myself wound-up on the way back home after all the excitement and drama in the Late Model Stock Car race.
Just in case you are unaware of what took place Friday night during the 75-lap Late Model Stock Car race, let me fill you in … First, for the first time this season the driver who has won five of the previous six races, Speedy Faucette found himself buried in the sixth starting position behind some great cars including former track champions, Jason York and Rodney Cook. RD Smith was back and man was he fast and not only that, but we would find he’s got plenty of drive left in him, but we’ll save that for another story.
The race started off with drama for Faucette as York battled for the lead with Dustin Rumley he got into his door and instead of spinning the young driver, he spun himself. Faucette unfortunately found himself planted in the passenger side door ripping much of the front of his car up. Faucette and York went to the rear of the field and with the green flag back in the air, they quickly made a charge to the front. Late in the race they were both in the top five with York third and Faucette fourth, then York roughed up Rumley for second and soon these three would find themselves in a four way battle with Smith joining the party.
Not many times can you have four cars locked in a tight battle and not have a crash fixing to ensue and that was the case as the cars headed for turn three. I’m not even going to speculate on why the cars crashed as two people standing directly in front of the accident gave me two different stories and add that to the perspectives from others watching and who really knows what happened, but one thing was clear it took all four drivers out of contention for the victory.
York and Faucette both spun up to the outside wall and they both quickly tried to make their way to pit road and as they did … it all broke loose! York making his way down pit road was slammed from behind by Faucette and nearly spun into the parked car of Gary Young, Jr., who competes in the Modified division. Young was greatly upset quickly jumping up and down and talking with officials and York wasn’t happy either. From here the story gets a little he-said, she-said as York made his way down to Faucette’s pit area, some people said they saw him with a baseball bat, which of course I didn’t see, but if it’s true I wish I had gotten a photo.
Then Faucette was accused of swerving at crew members of York’s team including York’s father, John as he left the pits … again unfortunately I didn’t see as I was still making my way from turn four down to where they were pitted. The crews of both teams continued to jaw back and forth with one another with Sheriff’s deputies standing in between to try and keep the peace.
You have got to be excited just reading about the incident as everyone who was in attendance was and of course depending on who your favorite driver is and who your least favorite driver is you likely have a take on what should or should not have been done about the incident. Many people think that Faucette should be suspended for his pit road actions as should York for even carrying the baseball bat in his hands. I’ve got a little different take on this as I usually do on about everything.
First let me say that I don’t want to see anyone get hurt or for any innocent cars get torn up when stuff like this happens, but what the fans got to see Friday night will keep fans coming back and will likely grow your fan base if they think that something may happen again. The buzz on Tuesday, May 19th was that letters were being sent out to both York and Faucette notifying them of fines and/or suspensions, though it wasn’t real clear who would get what., but hopefully when that info is available we’ll have it for you here on RACE22.com.
I think that suspending or fining either driver would be a huge mistake, these guys put the passion and intensity that short track racing today is lacking back into what had been a lack-luster season to date at Ace Speedway. Sure, many people are going to complain or cry foul of what Faucette did coming down pit road, but I’m not sure what race fans really want and I certainly can’t begin to imagine what a race track operator must be thinking to suspend or fine a guy who adds that much to his program.
These race fans who are complaining about Friday night’s off track antics are the same people who want to watch a race heads up like the cars qualified or who be against competition cautions. Passion is what built this sport, it’s certainly what put the NASCAR Winston Cup Series on the map back in 1979 in the Daytona 500 when the Allison’s and Cale Yarborough got into a fight in the grass … we’ve all seen it and the intelligent among us LOVED it. No race track should suspend a driver for helping them put butts in the seats especially in this challenging economic times.
Friday night, May 15, 2009 will go down for me as one of the top ten best races I’ve ever been to and not necessarily just for the racing on the track … it was thrilling, it was crazy, it was the kind of race that you spend the next couple of days telling people about and watching their reaction and listen them to WOW, I wish I had been there.
Ace Speedway is one of those tracks that just creates this kind of racing and they’ve got feuds, they’ve got tenacious veteran and young racers alike and they’ve got some of the best racing anywhere … I can’t wait to go back and I hope Faucette and York are there to continue their feud and continue entertaining me and any fans smart enough to be there and watch the show!