NEMCO crew chief Alex Smith is taking full responsibility for the illegal driveshaft that cost his driver, John Hunter Nemechek, his first victory in the Southern Super Series on Saturday night at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Upon winning the Nashville 125, it was discovered that Nemechek’s driveshaft was made of carbon fiber and that it was wrapped in an aluminum coating, a clear violation of tour rules. Driveshafts may only be constructed of steel or aluminum according to the official SSS rule book.
And while Smith is not disputing the decision, he does believe there is a gray area that the Southern Super Series must address moving forward.
“All these driveshafts are made with a dampener on the inside,” Smith told Short Track Scene. “Sometimes it is as simple as cardboard or a polymer. This one had carbon fiber on the inside — so buy the rules, they had to do it.”
Smith maintains that the shaft wasn’t installed to gain a technical advantage over the rest of the field and that he allowed the tech crew, spearheaded by Ricky Brooks, to drill the shaft if he knew it was ultimately illegal.
“After Ricky cut into it, I immediately realized we made a mistake,” Smith said. “It was just an oversight on my part. We used this shaft last year and shelved it once we realized what it was and knowing that they wouldn’t like it.
“It’s somewhat ironic that we destroyed a car at Nashville late last year and when you’re late into the season and preparing for the Snowball Derby, we grabbed the only remaining driveshaft we had. So again, I take full responsibility for it and hate that it happened because that’s not why we dominated that race.”
Smith says he is not letting the circumstances get him or his driver down and is instead looking at the positives of yet another strong run to open 2014.
“I can tell you that this is a huge confidence booster for (John Hunter) and for me too,” Smith said. “We’ve been close (to winning a first Super Late Model race), we’ve led laps and we’re lacking just that last little bit to seal the deal.
“That gives me confidence that we’re giving cars to John that he can work with and win races with. We know that the driveshaft isn’t what caused us to win and it shows me that we’re going to come back in November and be just as competitive.”
Nemechek and his team will return to the Southern Super Series in two weeks, competing in both legs of a Friday/Saturday doubleheader at Pensacola Five Flags Speedway and Mobile International Speedway on Apr. 25 and 26.