For 34 laps, it appeared as if Night One of the World Series of Asphalt would come down to Carson Kvapil and Derek Griffith.
That was the case until suddenly it wasn’t.
Griffith trailed Kvapil for a majority of the race, running first and second, but well ahead of the rest of the field. Griffith bided his time until the penultimate lap, when he dove under Kvapil in Turns 3 and 4.
They ran side-by-side down the frontstretch into Turns 1 and 2 when disaster struck. Kvapil ran a low line over Griffith, who himself drove pretty hard into the corner, sliding-up into his fello competitor. The contact sent Kvapil into the wall and out of the race.
Race control deemed Griffith’s act to be overly aggressive and parked him into the infield from the lead for the decisive restart.
Griffith wasn’t sure what he could have done differently.
“The way I got into the corner, I got free-in and touched fenders,” Griffin told Short Track Scene after the race. “I saved it and he didn’t. And they called it the way they did. I want to see a replay. But it’s a racing deal, I guess.”
Griffith said he had at least 10 laps of chances to wreck Kvapil if he had wanted to, and didn’t feel like his last lap move warranted being parked by race control.
For his part, Kvapil said he couldn’t have done anything differently either.
“I guess he just drove it in way too hard,” Kvapil said. “I lifted and I could hear his engine turning so I knew I was about to get turned. That was definitely his fault, I felt like I gave him enough room and he drove right on into me. So I guess now we have some work to do.”
Kvapil and Griffith were credited with 16th and 17th-place finishes, placing them in a considerable hole for a championship run — despite cars that appear to be the class of the field.
As for the decision to park Griffith, race director Nicholas Rogers says the leaders were warned before the final restart.
“We told them all day, and again before the final restart, that we wanted a clean opening night to keep cars here all week. We felt like (Griffith) made an aggressive move into 3 and 4 the lap before, and did it again in 1 and 2,” Rogers said.
“We felt like we needed to set a precedence for what would be acceptable all week.”