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CARS Late Model Stock Tour

Tri-County Speedway safety questioned after asphalt damages cars

Track conditions played a negative factor on race day.

Cassie Fambro | STS

Pieces of Tri-County Motor Speedway’s racing surface was pulled-up on Saturday for the CARS Tour season opener, clouding an otherwise successful Do the Dew 150.

Tri-County isn’t in the best shape and it isn’t used that much. When and how it’s used is carefully regulated by local politicians who have all but choked the life from it. For instance, an ordinance mandates that engines are not legally allowed to be fired until Noon on weekends. Practice typically starts before Noon at any other race track.

The problem with Tri-County is that it’s nestled right in the middle of a neighborhood.

CARS Tour officials chose to work around the rules and regulations because they believed it would provide the type of action the aged short track has long been known for.

Several drivers reported chunks of asphalt flying off the track, and in fact, that is what Lee Pulliam said ruined his CARS Tour debut.

“A piece of asphalt come up and knocked the alternator belt off with 50 to go,” Pulliam said.

That’s why he had to receive a push start on the last stage break too.

“And then the battery just got worse and worse and it just wouldn’t run all the way around the track,” he added.

Grayson Cullather also had an incident with an asphalt chunk and his spotter Jesse Vaughan posted a photo of one of the chunks he found on social media.

Josh Berry also witnessed a chunk go through a windshield. He spoke out on Twitter as well.

“Great race track. But it’s not safe to race on in current state. A piece just went through a windshield!”

A Limited Late Model suffered dramatic windshield damage.

Pit crew members also said that several chunks flew into their area during the race and a fan reported one flew over the fence in turn four.

Short Track Scene talked to CARS Tour director Chris Ragle after the race.

“Tri-County is not a place that races that often,” Ragle said. “We’ve raced her a couple times with no issues. I think it’s one of those unfortunate circumstances,” he added. Ragle said it was frustrating that the asphalt issue occurred during an otherwise successful event that drew one of the largest crowds and most cars the track had ever seen.

Ragle said that the week prior during the test, roughly 25-30 cars took to the track and there were no reports of asphalt chunks flying around the track. But on race day, with a total of 57 cars hitting the track, conditions can change.

“It’s our job to give our competitors the best platform to put on the best race. It sucks,” Ragle said of the issue.

Typically, there are just over a handful of races at the aging track due to those tough restrictions placed on the facility.

Ragle said the track is racey and attributed the side-by-side and three-wide racing to the design of the track.

But with asphalt chunks damaging race cars on the dilapidated track, coupled with strict local regulations, it’s not known how many more races the facility can realistically host.

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Fambro is a news reporter in Alabama and assists in coverage with Short Track Scene whenever possible.

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