As is often the case at Martinsville Speedway, the initial Late Model Stock qualifying results were not exactly what they seemed on Friday night under the lights.
It originally seemed as if Jeff Oakley and Deac McCaskill had qualified on the front row for the Valley Star Credit Union 300. But after a rigorous inspection following group time trials, both veteran drivers had their times disallowed and will not earn automatic berths into the 200-lap main event on Saturday night.
Instead, Jake Crum and Stacy Puryear will lead the field to green for the first night race in event history.
Both Oakley and McCaskill were disqualified due to issues surrounding their carburetors. Race director Lynn Carroll faced the media after the decision was made to help explain the process.
“The front two cars in the qualifying process had their times disallowed because of issues,” Carroll said. “The [Jeff Oakley] car had a spacer-plate (violation) under the carburetor, which is not allowed for this event. [Deac McCaskill] had an issue with the squirters on the carburetor on his car.”
Specifically, McCaskill said he somehow got debris in his carburetor that caused him to fail inspection.
“We had a stumble in qualifying,” McCaskill said. “The rear squirter had a piece of trash in it. They don’t understand why it’s there. It has to be an 0.018 hole. It is. But there was a piece of trash in it. That’s all there is.”
Oakley could not be reached for comment.
Regardless of whether their respective issues provided an advantage, the carburetor did not meet specifications and thus resulted in both drivers losing their front row starting positions.
Carroll said both drivers had passed inspection prior to practice on Friday afternoon.
“We take the carburetors off and inspect them, but we do not inspect them when we put them back on the car,” Carroll said. “It’s up to the competitors to read the entry blank. This race is unique because we have so many engine combinations, so sometimes the rules are different than they would be at another track. That’s what we have to do to equalize the competition.”
As a result of qualifying, Crum and Puryear are automatically locked into the 200-lap main event. The remaining 85 drivers must compete in one of three 25-lap heat races to set the field for the feature. The top-10 finishers in each race will advance to the feature. The remaining drivers will then compete in a last chance race to add 10 more drivers.
The main event is comprised of 42 drivers.
It’s still unclear if Oakley and McCaskill will have to start at the rear of a heat race or go directly to the last chance race.
“We’ve got to look, read all the entry blanks and everything else to see,” Carroll said. “They will either be at the tail-end of the heat race or the tail-end of the last chance race.”
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