Commentary by: Langley Austin ~ [email protected]

Copper Hill, VA(August 14, 2012) — As if taken from a page of the script from Monday Night RAW … Caraway Speedway delivered a Sunday night edition on wheels.

By now you’ve read my other opinion piece on this race title “Staging a Circus Sometimes Makes You a Clown” and if you haven’t you should. However, there’s always two sides to every story, there’s always two versions of what went down and there’s always someone who thinks that just because you tell the truth, it’s bias reporting. Well sit back and enjoy the other side of the coin …

With the circus assembled, start and parks ready for their one or two laps of fame, field fillers ready to capitolize on front runners mistakes and only a handful of cars actually there to race, the night began. It began with Lee Pulliam starting sixth after winning the pole and for a short time after the green flag waved it appeared that Dan Moore was on his way to a dominating win as he pulled away up front while Pulliam was stuck in traffic. I could make more of conspiracy out of it than needs be by telling you that a car stopped in four just before it would have ‘rolled’ down pit road, but I don’t honestly know whether that was on purpose or not, but most fans in the stands thought that it was.

Either way, the caution allowed Pulliam to catch up and after a couple more restarts, he battled hard with Dan Moore for the win. It was actually the most exciting race I had ever seen at Caraway Speedway … well that is until about 30 minutes later when the second race got it’s green flag. The stage was set for Pulliam to pick up two of the valuable full field wins that he needs to ensure that he can win the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship. One down … one to go.

In race two, Pulliam made his way to the front a little quicker and once he was there, he battled with track points leader, Mack Little for the top spot. Things seemed to spin out of control quickly at about this point in the race. On the next restart, Pulliam took the top spot, but soon after was black flagged for beating Little to the line, handing the lead back to Little and sending Pulliam down pit road for a drive-thru penalty. At this point he was mired back in the field, but with a quick caution, he was in contention to race back through the field again.

At this point a series of strange happenings occured. Every lap or two the laps would go backwards on the scoreboard and even worse when the laps weren’t being counted, the caution would wave and the race would get stuck on different lap numbers for a period of time. Late in the race, lap 47 would be on the board for what seemed like an eternity and despite no laps going up on the board, drivers were changing positions without the cars that were in front of them crashing out. And, cautions were waving for seemingly no reason at all.

Robert Tyler in his post race interview may have put it best saying, “Cautions every 1/4 lap the last half of the race. A bird pissed on the backstretch was one caution, a Caribou ran out in turn one and a beaver ran out on the frontstretch.”

For a moment on Sunday night as I stood at the flag stand area on pit road watching the chaos, I had to look up into the lights to see if it wasn’t WWE creator, Vince McMahon calling the shots. It wasn’t or as far as I could see. However, the way the race was playing out gave everyone a reason to cry foul, though some of the ones crying the loudest were the reason things went like they did.

As the night came to an end at least from a Late Model Stock Car racing standpoint, Pulliam ended his race crashed hard into the inside wall. Ryan Wilson ended the night in victory lane for the second race much to the dismay of the crowd.

If you read my other opinion piece titled “Staging a Circus Sometimes Makes You a Clown” then you know who staged the circus, but I also wanted to show you that it wasn’t all him, he couldn’t do it by himself and maybe he didn’t even expect the track to take matters into their own hand in race two. He set the stage, but the Hackett’s(the family who runs the track) called the shots, called the cautions, caused the mayhem that ensued in the second half of the second twin race.

Every circus needs the right amount of clowns to make the show a success and the track has been notorious through the years for having antics go on that were questionable and Sunday night played right into everyone’s beliefs although for the tracks part they don’t think they did anything wrong.

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” said Renee Hackett. “We went back to the previous lap,a rule we instituted on July 28th. It just wasn’t what our fans were used to.”

However at nearly every caution the race went back not one, but two laps and maybe more before people started to notice. At one point I wasn’t sure if I was wrong and the laps were just being counted backwards or what, but there was certainly more going on than the track is willing to admit. But, at the end of the day, the bottomline is this …

The fans got more than their $20 a car load worth. They were treated to two really good Late Model Stock Car races and the second one went into overtime or extra innings, depending on how you look at it. The Caraway Speedway staff might have went off script a little and added a little flair and another 30-50 laps(no one was really counting), but fans left talking about Caraway Speedway. And to be honest fans haven’t been talking about Caraway Speedway much in the past so I’d say the track got exactly what they wanted.

And, if by some chance the Lee Pulliam circus rolls back into Caraway Speedway on August 24th, we’ll get to live this deal all over again, except this time the stands won’t just look better than do for a regular race … they’ll be packed.

PT Barnum said it best … “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.”