The Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour announced penalties for Brandon Pierce and Nolan Pope this week following the chaotic Solid Rock Carriers 125 at Carteret County Speedway on Saturday evening.
Pierce was fined his winnings of $1,525 from Carteret County and suspended for the upcoming Aaron’s 250 at Florence Motor Speedway for violating the series rulebook in regards to rough driving when he triggered a multi-car accident while trying to battle Mini Tyrrell for second.
“The wreck wasn’t intentional, but there was a lack of good judgment,” CARS Tour owner Jack McNelly said. “It happened right in front of my location on the racetrack, and before I made the final decision, Tony [Stevens] and I broke down the footage frame by frame. It was a case of somebody not having much respect for himself and his equipment or anybody else and their equipment.”
With 76 laps to go in the scheduled distance, Pierce got into the back of Tyrrell while he raced side-by-side with Corey Heim shortly after a restart, which turned Tyrrell around in front of the field and resulted in eight cars being knocked out of the event.
Although Pierce sustained damage in the incident, he was able to keep his car on track and finish as the last car on the lead lap in seventh, but not before he had to dodge another wreck involving Stacy Puryear and Nolan Pope after the latter was spun into the outside retaining wall by Ronald Hill entering Turn 1.
Pope was not pleased with the way Hill raced him on track and confronted his crew in the pits after retiring his car from the event. Once the Solid Rock Carriers 125 concluded, Pope returned to Hill’s pit stall to confront him personally, but was separated by members from the two crews.
As a result of his actions, Pope was fined his race winnings of $1,450, placed on probation for the rest of the 2020 season, and disqualified from the CARS LMSC Tour’s Touring 12 program, which he will not be eligible for when the 2021 season starts. He will be allowed to compete in the Aaron’s 250 at Florence on Oct. 3.
McNelly said he was confused as to why Pope would choose to confront Hill and his team on two different occasions, but he defended his decision to suspend Pope from the Touring 12, adding that the behavior he displayed on pit road at Carteret County is not indicative of what the CARS LMSC Tour is supposed to be.
“We hold our Touring 12 drivers to a certain standard,” McNelly said. “They are supposed to be the best of the best not only on the track, but off the track. They carry the banner for this series and if we have someone that’s not doing what they’re supposed to do and putting out a bad representation of the CARS Tour, I’m going to make a change.”
McNelly said that Pierce and Pope can appeal their penalties if they choose to, but he admitted that he does not see any scenario coming to fruition that would change his mind on what he saw at Carteret County on Saturday evening.
“The tape doesn’t lie,” McNelly said. “I’m not going to put up with that kind of behavior on or off the track. I am 73 years old, and these guys can do it my way or we’re not going to do it at all. Our standards are just a little bit above Saturday night redneck racing. I understand there are going to be hard feelings, but when it goes to the next level, I’m going to draw a line and they might as well learn that right now.”
While Pope will return to the CARS LMSC Tour at Florence, Pierce’s next race in the series will be the season-ending Old North State Nationals, which is currently scheduled to take place at Orange County Speedway on Oct. 18.