Controversial Restart Gives Dillon Basset Runner-Up Finish in VIFRL300 Debutby Caitlin Tinius October 9, 2013 0 comments
October 9, 2013 – During his first appearance in the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 at Martinsville Speedway, 16 year old Dillon Bassett made quite a statement and left an impression as he placed second in the most prestigious late model stock car event after a controversial GWC restart.
Dillon Bassett’s No. 44 Bassett Racing team got the handling dialed in on their Rex Younger Galleries / Pig Oil Ford during practice but was unable to get a feel for their qualifying setup. “We are kind of taking a shot in the dark how the car will react in qualifying,” Bassett said. “We missed the memo that there would not be two 15 minute practice rounds, and just one 30 minute session. So we never bolted on sticker tires or taped up to make a mock run.”
Dillon Bassett was 34th on the board after qualifying practice, lining him up ninth for the second 20 lap heat race Sunday afternoon. Needing to advance only one position to lock himself into the Virginia is for Racing Lovers feature, Bassett worked his way into fourth by the time the checkered fell in his heat race, giving him the 14th starting position among the 42 car field.
The green flag dropped just shy of 5 PM and the field was underway for the biggest late model stock car race of the season. By lap five Dillon Bassett had worked his way into the top ten. During the first half of the 200 lap feature five yellow flags dropped and Bassett was sitting fourth during the halfway break.
Timothy Peters led the field at halfway and drew an eight for the invert, lining Dillon Bassett up fifth for the restart. Three caution periods and one red flag fell before the longest green flag run of the day when the field restarted on lap 137. On lap 152 Dillon Bassett worked his way around Phillip Morris for the fourth position, and passed Deac McCaskill for third on lap 169.
As Matt Waltz and Lee Pulliam were out front battling for the lead, Bassett made it a three way battle with 25 to go and battled Pulliam side by side for multiple laps before the scheduled competition caution flew with ten laps to go. “I was racing Pulliam hard for the lead; I wasn’t going to give him any room. We got into each other a few times, but that’s typical racing at Martinsville when $25,000 and a grandfather clock are on the line,” Bassett said. “I raced him they way he raced me.”
Dillon Bassett chose the inside line behind Pulliam for the restart on lap 194, but the caution displayed one lap later setting them up for the first Green-White-Checkered attempt. This time Bassett chose the outside line and when the field restarted McCaskill made it a three way battle for the lead entering turn one, making contact with Pulliam and ending their day. Dillon Bassett would inherit the lead for the final GWC attempt following the red flag, as NASCAR officials became concerned about the darkening sky.
On the final restart Tommy Lemons Jr. lined up outside Dillon Bassett and beat Bassett to the start finish line by multiple car lengths, a deficit too strong for Bassett to make up in two circuits and Lemons took the checkered flag first. The Bassett Racing team believed they would be declared the winner as officials made it clear that the leader must be the first to take the green flag. Unfortunately NASCAR did not agree and Dillon Bassett came home as the runner-up during a controversial finish in his Martinsville debut.
“This is probably one of the greatest moments of my racing career even though I do not agree with NASCAR’s call. As the leader I was not the first to the restart line. I did not spin the tires and I went when I was supposed to go, there are multiple pictures and videos to back that up. Unfortunately they would not review those and it is in the books now,” Dillon Bassett stated.
“The feedback and support I’ve received means the most. A lot of drivers are not fortunate enough to make it to the big show, especially in their first attempt. We talked all week about putting the clock in our shop, and to actually go out there battling for it is incredible,” Bassett continued. “It would have been better to become the youngest winner, but that was great racing and the fans loved it. I am blessed to be a part of Bassett Racing, Seth (Smith) and Jason (Stanley) put a lot of dedication into this.”
Following the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 Dillon Bassett was treated and released at the local hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning as his exhaust and crush panels were damaged on lap 115 and he spent the remainder of the event breathing in fumes.
The next event for Dillon Bassett is this weekend with the UARA-STARS at Newport Speedway (TN). He enters the weekend on a three race UARA win streak and as the current point leader. Follow @Dillon_Wayne44 and @BassettRacing1 on Twitter for racing updates. Like Bassett Racing on Facebook www.facebook.com/BassettRacing0444. For more information on Dillon Bassett and media availability visit www.DillonBassett44.com or contact email@example.com.