KINGSPORT — For the second week in a row, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model winner at Kingsport Speedway was forced to vacate his victory.
A week after race winner Chad Finchum was disqualified for an unapproved engine part, Daniel Pope II had a victory taken away from him after he led all 60 laps last Friday night. Finchum's team protested the rear of Pope’s car, and when the vehicle’s trailing arms were found to be too thin, Finchum lost the 30 points he gained from his win.
In the wake of the decision, Pope’s team released a statement explaining that the team never modified any of the original components. The issue arose because the car was purchased in 2010 with the trailing arms installed, but NASCAR amended its rule book in 2011 to include a mandatory thickness for trailing bars.
“Unfortunately, the amendment was undiscovered by our race team before Friday night’s protest and subsequent inspection,” Pope’s statement read. “The thickness of our trailing arms measured 0.112 by the track’s NASCAR officials during the post-race assessment. This interprets to our trailing arms being five-one thousandths (.005) of an inch outside of the allowed variance, less than the thickness of a sheet of copy paper.”
The infraction may have been minimal, but the penalty was a huge blow to Pope’s championship hopes. Unofficially, Pope has dropped from the points lead all the way to fourth behind co-leaders Zeke Shell and Kres VanDyke. Finchum is now second, seven points behind the leaders and 16 clear of Pope.
Despite the setback, Pope seems determined to keep fighting to the end.
“Even though this minimal discrepancy created no competitive advantage, we take full responsibility for the untimely oversight of the rule update,” the statement read. “We want to thank our fans for your continued support, and look forward to visiting Victory Lane several more times as we finish the 2013 season.”
The next chapter of the Late Model saga will unfold this Friday night as the Late Models run a pair of 30-lap features. For more information on this week’s racing program, visit www.newkingsportspeedway.com.