It may be time to modify the post-race disqualification rules for Super Late Model racing.
There is much to like about the long-standing tradition in short track racing in which a team gets disqualified after being found illegal in post-race technical inspection. With that being said, an instance of one such ruling on Saturday night in the Southern Super Series may eventually expose an unintended consequence of the entire process.
Bubba Pollard believed he had won the Mobile 100 but the post-race technical inspection led to a disqualification when it was discovered that his engine intake manifold height was beyond the mandated tolerance.
As a result, Pollard received no winnings and no championship points, picking up only a handful of qualifying markers he had earned earlier in the afternoon during time trials. For all intents and purposes, it made to look as if Pollard wasn’t even there on Saturday night and that’s the only aspect of the rule that needs to be addressed.
While his car did not meet the letter of the law, there was no doubt that Pollard was indeed part of the show. It’s frankly unjust to send him, or anyone else who gets disqualified, home with no credit for his or her participation.
This is especially true for a loyal driver who has participated in the Southern Super Series from Day One and is the defending champion of the campaign.
But this isn’t just about Pollard.
A similar ordeal struck Augie Grill in the summer of 2013 when he was disqualified for an illegal fuel mixture following an apparent victory in a SSS race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola. Once he lost his appeal, Grill was stripped of the win, his winning and all championship points accumulated during the event.
For both Pollard and Grill, the result was the same — the championship elimination and dismissal of one of the most popular and marketable drivers the series has to offer to fans who follow the series on a weekly basis.
Frustrated with the ruling, Grill chose to go run a handful of races in the CRA Super Series instead.
Pollard also has numerous other options, a part-time ARCA Series relationship with Tracy Goodson Racing and the stated desire to travel more and compete in one-off major events as opposed to sticking to a single tour.
But if there was a single tour Pollard would have stuck to, it would have been his backyard series in which he had a championship to defend.
This isn’t to justify failing inspection but there is a better solution. Simply send a failing driver to the bottom of the finishing order. Allow that driver to pick up the championship points for the final spot on the grid and the accompanying start money for that particular race — a practice the CRA already applies.
For Pollard and Grill, they did attend those respective races and did add to the show. They are a draw to both the tracks and the tour and they should be encouraged to come back despite their misfortune or bad judgement.
But the status quo completely destroyed their championship efforts and instead permitted them to go elsewhere or do something else, a dangerous assertion for a tour that has competition and is starting to struggle to draw cars and drivers.
It’s possible to both maintain the integrity of the race while still acknowledging the efforts and participation of teams. Moving forward, that’s how we should handle disqualifications.