How you view the ethics of short track racing will determine much of how you felt about the final 50 laps of the Redbud 400 on Monday at Anderson Speedway in Indiana.
The race was ultimately decided by a hard bump and run sent by Kyle Crump on leader Austin Nason, justifiable because the leader drifted up on corner exit, somehow establishing the terms of engagement as a result.
Nason is a mainstay in the upper Midwest, a full-timer in the ARCA Midwest Tour over the past season and drivers from this region race with a particular code, one where the bumper seldomly used during a course of the race.
Drivers from this region use the ‘tap rule’ when they feel personally responsible for causing another driver to spin — giving a driver they wronged their spot back.
Crump is a CRA Super Series regular, and the southern Midwestern states do not traditionally race with code. Similar to the Southeast, the bump and run is something that’s culturally acceptable in the short track playbook.
Crump used that playbook to full effect with two laps remaining, sending Nason high up the track and all the way back to third, allowing Sammy Smith to take the runner-up position.
The rules of engagement were seemingly decided when the leader in the preferred lane moved up the track to arc in the corner, and that is enough to use the bump and run from the CRA, Southern Super Series and CARS Tour playbook.
Wild finish in the #Redbud400.
Contact between Austin Nason & @KyleCrumpRacing with two to go.
Crump wins the race. pic.twitter.com/dGpVBhR5ST
— Anderson Speedway (@AndersonSpeedwy) July 13, 2021
“What a race at the end, man,” Crump said. “I was even with him on the straightaway, he kind of ran me up in three and four and opened the door up for me to get him back. What a finish. I can’t believe this. Someone asked me what it would feel like to win this race and I honestly had no idea. This is so amazing. You watch this race as a race fan, a race car driver.”
Nason said he will remember that the next time he races Crump.
“On that restart, he stuck to my outside and we rubbed a little bit,” Nason said. ” But I guess rubbing is racing and racing isn’t the same as we do in the Midwest. You don’t just drive into one and root the guy out of the way. I guess we’ll race that way the next time we come here and we’ll win it.”
It wasn’t the only time late in the race that someone’s sense of code was tested and enacted.
Dalton Armstrong led all but the first 89 laps when he lined up next to defending winner Carson Hocevar on a restart with 27 laps to go. Armstrong appeared to drift up on the frontstretch and it resulted in Hocevar hitting the wall.
Hocevar and Armstrong came together again in corner entry and it sent the defending winner hard into the wall and out of the race.
Champion Racing Association race director Glenn Luckett penalized Armstrong to the rear of the field, where he quickly began working his way up through the field. Nason and Stephen Nasse were up front by this point.
Trying to get back to the front, aggressively, Armstrong gave Nasse a hard shove three times before pushing the No. 51 up the track. Nasse comes from a ‘race how you get raced’ philosophy and promptly dumped him in the next corner.
“It’s unfortunate the mishaps (Armstrong) had there to have to go to the rear, but you’ve got to know you can’t drive through the field like an idiot and run people over,” Nasse said. “You’ve got to be able to race around them, and I think he had a fast enough where he could’ve passed me three times over again. When he goes in there and lifts me off the ground three times, it’s going to end up pissing me off. I don’t know what he was thinking, and I knew he knew it was coming probably. I wish he would’ve hit that fence a little bit and messed that car up more.”
Armstrong believes he should have been given his spot back.
“I had a way faster car than everybody and everyone wants to be a little baby when they don’t have a fast car,” Armstrong said. “I get out of their way when it’s their turn to win. (Nasse) spins me out and I don’t get my position back.”
Ultimately, Crump found himself in the right place to capitalize on the chaos, and under these rules, the leader is a sitting duck on a tight bullring like Anderson.
“We had a really great piece,” Crump said. “It wasn’t as good as the 4 car (Armstrong) on the long runs, but we just kept fighting and fighting and fighting. We got a flat tire and I thought our race was over, but the good ol’ Redbud 400 with a ton of cautions, we were able to get our lap back.”
And regardless of how anyone feels about how it was accomplished, they have the trophy and the paycheck.
- Kyle Crump
- Sammy Smith
- Austin Nason
- Greg Van Alst
- Stephen Nasse
- Kody Swanson
- Dalton Armstrong
- James Krueger
- Jesse Love
- Mason Keller
- Jaren Crabtree
- Michael Simko
- Carson Hocevar
- Scotty Tomasik
- Austin Thom
- Josh Ebbert
- JP Crabtree
- Cody Coughlin
- Hunter Jack
- Casey Johnson
- Corey Heim
- Ryan Issacs
- Chris Tomasik
- Connor Mosack
*Quotes provided from Speed51 race broadcast