On Monday we reported on a reverse protest at Motor Mile Speedway in the Limited Sportsman division where winner Karl Budzevski protested second-place finisher, Cory Dunn. On Wednesday the protest was thrown out by track officials after consulting with NASCAR Whelen All-American Series officials.
As we first reported that Budzevski protested Dunn’s body offset and spoiler offset. Dunn admitted that the spoiler was offset to the right by 3/16″ and that the body (measured at the bumper cover) was off by 1/8″. The NASCAR Whelen All-American rulebook doesn’t state a tolerance leaving many to believe that it’s a zero-tolerance rule.
According to Motor Mile Speedway head tech official Ron Orr, the allowance at Martinsville Speedway for the ValleyStar 300 is always a 1/2″ and after consulting with NASCAR he says that NASCAR Whelen All-American Series director Les Westerfield agreed.
“The protest was relative to the spoiler location with the bumper cover,” Orr told RACE22. “We did the measurements at the track to confirm that. That gave us a number where it was located. The spoiler to the bumper cover was 3/16″ to the right. The bumper cover with respect to the car was 1/4″ to the right.”
“There is no tolerance stated in the rulebook,” Orr continued. “We called Les Westerfield and talked to him about it. We discussed that routine, the measurements used at say Martinsville when we’re doing body stuff. We give them a 1/2″. This right here is less than a 1/2″, it’s also on a car that you wouldn’t expect to be maintained with the precision as the Late Models to begin with. After talking to Les, he said it was not out of anything he would expect and thought it wasn’t anything that was a problem.”
Orr typically isn’t the one that handles the protests at Motor Mile Speedway. Typically Race Director Randy Merriman would oversee the process but given that his son is the crew chief on Budzevski’s car, track General Manager Michelle Vaught says that Merriman recused himself.
“He (Randy) recused himself on Saturday night when the protest came down,” Vaught told RACE22. “Because he does have a connection to that team with his son being the crew chief for that team. So he stepped out which I 100% agree with. My job here is to protect the track and to protect my officials and I believe he made the right call there. It wouldn’t have mattered what decision he made, it would have been turned around to some that it wasn’t fair.”
Orr didn’t say whether or not Merriman recused himself but said that he was instructed to make the call and not by Merriman.
“I was told to make the decision,” Orr said. When asked if he was told by Randy Merriman to make the decision he simply said “No.”
Merriman did not return our calls at the time of publishing.
Budzevski obviously isn’t happy about the outcome and says that he doesn’t believe the measurements that the track claims and doesn’t believe that Merriman recused himself.
“It’s more than that,” Budzevski told RACE22. “You’ve seen the picture that was shared on race22 on the article (in the comments) if that’s 7/16″ I’ll kiss your butt. We’ll just call the spoiler a half-inch and we know the rear of the car was offset of the centerline.”
Budzevski is equally upset that the protest he filed wasn’t followed. The protest which was filed in writing and given to the officials along with $300 cash including checking the spoiler offset, body offset, and the body skew. Budzevski says the body skew was never checked.
“They did not check it at all,” Budzevski stated. “Even though that was the first wording of the protest. I was protesting the body offset to include the spoiler. I was being detailed in the protest that they make sure they look at the spoiler. All they had to do was look at the front of the greenhouse in comparison to the Earnhardt bar. That’s the theoretical centerline of the car.”
Orr agrees that they didn’t check that despite it being written on the protest.
“He and I talked about that,” Orr said. “I agree. No, I did not check that. He also didn’t mention it when went inside and looked at that. I don’t think it was an oversight. These bodies are such that there isn’t a whole lot of pulling you can do with the car body because of how stiff they are.”
Budzevski says he was told that they had all the measurements that they needed.
“They didn’t tell us anything,” Budzevski explained. “They said they had all the measurements that they needed. So, I trusted them. You’re in a position there where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You don’t want to go in there and piss the damn inspectors off because there’s a chance they could not be totally unbiased. Your best option is to trust in them and that’s what I did. I can’t help Ron can’t read a damn protest.”
Dunn for his part is relieved for this to be over and is glad that the protest was thrown out.
“They said I was good to go,” Dunn told RACE22. “They said from what they got from NASCAR, they looked over it and basically I’m good. I believe the protest was thrown out. Basically, they aren’t accepting it at this point. It doesn’t matter to me if I get the money or not. We’re just going to move on and keep going after what we’ve been going after all season.”
Dunn says he never expected to be in this position to win the championship.
“I never thought we’d be in a position to run for this championship,” Dunn said. “Rookie of the Year yeah I’m not going to say I didn’t think we could run for that but with the team around me, I knew we could. Exceeding expectations is something we’re definitely doing.”
Budzevski says he doesn’t think he’ll return to Motor Mile Speedway after this decision.
“If they got a rulebook and don’t want to follow it then they shouldn’t even give a rulebook,” Budzevski said. “I don’t feel like I was told the truth at all, I don’t feel like they talked to NASCAR. If that’s how they’re going to do things I’ll just go somewhere they want me. I want to go back to South Boston and Southern National. I might show up at Orange County. Depends on what my schedule allows and look at the race track schedules and go from there.”
Budzevski reiterated his contention that this was a business decision to make up for the contact and subsequent wreck that took him out of the points lead.
“This protest was just business to put us back on a more even playing field from where we got wrecked up there,” Budzevski explained. “Facts are facts. I’ve won five of the eight races there this season compared to his two wins. My honest opinion is I’m not a favorite and that’s fine don’t have to be. When you put your helmet on and go out there and race none of that should matter. Unfortunately, I feel like it does.”
Budzevski said he was prepared for all of the Facebook bashings he’s taken.
“I had confidence in the protest and Randy has always been 100% by the rulebook,” Budzevski continued. “There is no gray area. Otherwise, we would have never made this decision to do this. I knew the Facebook bashing was going to come out. I was prepared for all of that. I’m not there to be anybody’s friend once we get in the race car. I was prepared to take the brunt of it all and I have and I’ve stayed silent.”
Dunn says he’s moving forward and has no hard feelings.
“I haven’t had any hard feelings with him all year, to be honest with you,” Dunn said. “I’ve just been trying to go out there and race. I mean, no, there’s not. It’s a move that a lot of people didn’t agree with and we didn’t agree with but we’re all after the same goal. So, if he felt like something I did wasn’t right and that’s the way he wanted to go about then that is what it is. I’m not going to hold anything against him, if you do then you’re just putting yourself in a bad position.”
Dunn now leads the points by 35 over Budzevski. If Budzevski doesn’t return he’ll hand the championship to Dunn who is more than 100 points ahead of third place. If Budzevski does return it could be a great battle to the end between the two guys who have been the best all season long.
Cover photo by Jaden Austin.