Racing season winds down; BAPS makes multiple changes

Bryan Householder
For The York Dispatch

The local racing season is indeed winding down, and again this weekend fans will have to travel to catch any racing action. That’s not to say it isn’t a big weekend for racing.

The World Finals at Charlotte has been expanded this year and will include four days of racing spread among the World Racing Group’s top three classes. The World Finals at Charlotte includes the World of Outlaws sprint cars, the World of Outlaws late models and the DIRT modifieds. Racing will be held from Wednesday thru Saturday.

The World of Outlaws sprint cars enter the World finals with just 16 points separating points leader Brad Sweet and his closest challenger, David Gravel. All three classes wrap up their season points chases at Charlotte.

World of Outlaws driver Carson Macedo scores his first career victory at Williams Grove Speedway, Sunday, March 15, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Also on the racing card this weekend is more racing at Bridgeport (N.J.). The 360 sprint cars of both USAC and URC are a part of Bridgeport’s three day-weekend. USAC’s East Coast wingless 360 sprint cars race Friday night, URC’s winged 360 sprint cars race Saturday and the modified cars race Sunday.

The next weekend, on Nov. 12, BAPS Motor Speedway in northern York County returns to action with its Final Showdown. The 410 sprint cars, 358 modifieds and an enduro will be a part of the BAPS show that day.

BAPS makes changes: Just last week, BAPS announced some changes in its racing format for the 410 sprint cars. After being questioned about the late-race debacle during the track's last sprint car show, the management at BAPS have revised both their policy on 360-degree spins and their late-race restart procedure.

The incident happened when race-long leader Danny Dietrich spun while attempting to regain the lead after Justin Peck had passed him on the 27th of 30 laps. Dietrich attempted to cut down track to regain the lead, but lost traction and spun out. However, Dietrich did a complete 360-degree spin and kept moving.

This rule has been a sticking point for years in the local area and actually around the country. It should be noted here that sprint cars are either in gear or out of gear. They have no clutch, and if their wheels come to a stop, they can’t restart without the aid of a push truck.

When a driver spins out, he often comes to a stop. No problem — if he stops, he goes to the rear of the field. However, where should he restart if he doesn’t come to a stop, but the caution flag has been thrown?

It’s been an ongoing guessing game, and several differing policies have been tried. One option is for him to return to his original position (in this case, that would have been second place). Then there is the blend rule, which is what BAPS has been using. In the blend rule, the driver goes into the position he was in when he came out of the spin and got going in the right direction. The third rule is that because he spun and brought out the caution, he goes to the rear of the field.

That third rule has pretty much been adopted by most local tracks and both the World of Outlaws and All-Stars, the reason being that, while spinning, the driver’s car is a danger to all the others on the race track.

BAPS has been using the blend rule, but on the night in question, officials weren’t able to determine exactly where Dietrich should blend into the field. It has since been determined that it should have been fourth place, but on that night, without a clear decision, he was blended into second place. BAPS will now change to the same rule as most other tracks and sanctioning bodies. In the future, starting with the Final Showdown, a driver who brings out the caution flag while doing a 360 degree spin will be placed at the rear of the field.

The spin was only the start of the problems at BAPS that night. The next restart was even worse.

Obviously, several drivers were unhappy with Dietrich being returned to the second position. BAPS has also been using double-file restarts all through their sprint car events. So Dietrich restarted on the outside of the first row. A tap from behind on the restart sent Dietrich spinning again, and this time he collected nine other cars and several, including Dietrich, flipped upside down. No one was injured, but tempers were raised.

As far as I know, BAPS is the only place where sprint car races restart double file right up to the end.  Most tracks and sanctioning bodies go to single-file restarts after a lap has been completed. The World of Outlaws are the most obvious exception; the Outlaws go double-file until there are 10 laps remaining in the race.

Starting with the Final Showdown, that will also be the case at BAPS. When there are 10 laps remaining in the feature race restarts, will be single file.

The Final Showdown actually won’t be the final race of the season at BAPS this year. An event dubbed the Gobbler Bash is set for Nov. 19. This one will include racing for Scramble Cars, Figure 8's and a Powder Puff, plus a Demo Derby.