An incident between Nick Loden and Sarah Cornett-Ching in the closing laps of Saturday night’s Carolina Pro Late Model Series at Carteret County Speedway upended a solid run for Cornett-Ching and capped off a disappointing weekend for Loden.
Loden and Cornett-Ching battled each other for the sixth position, a battle that got physical, within the final 15 laps of the race. With 12 laps remaining, Cornett-Ching was able to make the pass on Loden in turn one. Exiting turn two, however, she spun off Loden’s front bumper after Loden got back to her inside in the corner.
In the ensuing caution, Loden tapped out – a “gentlemen’s agreement” procedure utilized by multiple disciplines of racing which allows a driver to admit fault for an incident and drop to the rear of the field while allowing the other driver in the incident to keep his or her position. Unfortunately, for Cornett-Ching, the damage was too heavy and she was sidelined.
Loden insisted after the race that the contact was not intentional and was not payback in any way.
“I wasn’t trying to get under her,” Loden said. “She was under me. I know I wasn’t going to beat her on the outside, so I hit the brakes and got down and she picked up a push coming off and she hit the gas for a second, so I started going. Then I got back on the brakes and she got on the brakes harder than I did and I ran into her. It was my fault. My bad.”
Cornett-Ching was perturbed after the incident.
“I’m used to racing hard and clean, setting up passes and putting on a show,” Cornett-Ching told Short Track Scene. “I’m not sure if people around here can’t stand being passed by a girl of they just race that way, but I’m tired of being a pinball out there with these drivers every week. Our front bumper and nose was into the tire, we were done for the night.”
Loden had struggled much of the race trying to figure out the track.
“We were decent on restarts but, throughout the race, I couldn’t get off the corner,” Loden explained. “I’d get on the gas and it’d just shove. It made it hard to pass. I spent a while changing my line through most of the race trying to figure it out. Nothing really worked good enough to get by anybody.”
Loden said he had never raced at a flat track prior to Saturday night. Fortunately, for Loden, the series will go from the flattest track on the circuit at Carteret County to the highest banked track on the tour at Franklin County Speedway on July 10th.
When told the track was a high banked track, Loden, who says he has never seen the track, replied, “perfect.”