Mike Garvey led over half of round three of the Midwest Cooling Towers Pro Late Model 100; 56 of 100 laps. He crossed the finish line first, less than a second ahead of Bubba Pollard and DJ VanderLey. Garvey and his team celebrated in victory lane by taking the photos and giving interviews.
After all the accolades and a lengthy inspection of Garvey’s engine, Ricky Brooks and the Mobile International Speedway officials were forced to disqualify the Tracy Goodson-owned Pro Late Model for rules infractions surrounding its engine.
The DQ moved Bubba Pollard to first and gave him his second victory of the night (he also won the Modified feature) and third win in a row at Mobile this season. DJ VanderLey moved up to second, and extended his points lead to 42 over Thomas Praytor.
Lead Technical Inspector Ricky Brooks explained what the infractions on Garvey’s car were after declaring the disqualification.
“He had illegal valve steam retainers, but the big issue was an illegal camshaft in the upper numbers, and illegal rocker arms. You’re supposed to have 1.6s (rockers), and they had 1.72s (rockers) on it.
“There’s no appeal to this,” added Brooks. “I got cam data to back it up, and a machine that checks the rocker arm ratio. It doesn’t fit the GM gage that GM supplied to check the rocker arms with. I’ve checked it both ways.
“It’s a pretty big advantage. Without putting the car on a dyno, I can’t tell you the numbers, but it would be a significant advantage.”
A dejected Tracy Goodson, who is the owner of Mike Garvey’s car, was very candid about his feelings on the situation.
“They’re sayin’ that the motor is wrong; we’ve been on the phone with our engine builder who stands by that its right. All we do is spend a lot of money to do this here, and we depend on the engine builders and that’s all we can do. I guess they’ll try to hash it out Monday. That’s just part of this crate motor racing, it’s kinda bulls--t, but I guess that’s part of it. I don’t know, I think I’m about ready to back to Super (Late Model) racin’, or maybe get my Pro Cup car into something.”
Pollard celebrated the win in the tech inspection area, after all the fans had left the speedway and most all of the teams had already visited the payout window. He celebrated with his team and a few friends after having won the Alabama Pipe & Supply Modified feature earlier in the night.
In the Pro Late Model race Pollard lead early, but began fighting a tight condition as the race worn on. Even with a tight handling car, he was still able to stay within one second of Garvey all night.
“We had a good car; I thought it was a little better than the last race, just got tight. We changed shocks from the last race; I think that made a big difference. I think we ran a little better with the other shocks. We’ve been given up (time) in qualifying, but now we’ve gained in qualifying and gave up some during the race.”
Pollard was able to catch Garvey in the corners, but Garvey consistently pulled away on the straightaways. One might think that it was in part due to Garvey’s alleged illegal engine, but Pollard also commented that he was trying to judge when the best time to go after the lead was.
“You just kinda watch what he’s doing, gotta know what your car is doing, then you kinda judge from there. It’s one of them things were you just know when to go. Mike got out front and I didn’t want to run that hard that quick, so I let him go. Who knows if that was the right decision... maybe I should’ve kept running hard. But I just got too tight there at the end. As long as you’re there, and you give it a shot, it’s all you can do.”
When asked about what it is like to win by technicality, Pollard took it in stride.
”Sometimes wins come like that. Ricky Brooks is known for being really hard in tech and I know a lot of drivers don’t like that, but I do. He’s tough, but he’s fair.”
Dan VanderLey, owner of the number 2 VDL Fuel Systems Ford driven by his son DJ VanderLey, agreed with Pollard’s assessment.
“I hate that Garvey got tossed out in tech; you hate to move up because of a technical infraction, although it has to be done. They have to tech everybody so we are all the same.”
Garvey’s disqualification moved the VanderLey team up to second, and helped the team gain in the points.
“It was a really good night for us, even with a third place finish. We got the pole, and got maximum points for that. It’s turned out to be an even bigger night than what we expected. We just keep pluggin’ along.
DJ VanderLey was very happy with outcome, even before post race tech was complete. He was glad that the car finished in one piece, without a scratch on it. He, along with Garvey and Pollard, all seemed to race in a rubberband like effect. The three would bunch up, especially in the corners, battle for a lap or two and then stretch out again. This game of cat and mouse lasted the entire second half of the race. When asked if the thought of using his bumper to get by Pollard crossed his mind, VanderLey expressed the importance of racing clean.
“I had Bubba in front of me there and he’s always run me clean, so I wasn’t gonna move him because I race people the way that I want to be raced. In these cars, especially late in the race, hitting your line is so key; I’m talking within inches. It is so hard, and if you slip up once, then you’re out a lot. Then you have to work your way back up, so it takes a lot of focus.”
VanderLey now leads the Midwest Cooling Towers Pro Late Model Series points by 42 over Thomas Praytor. When given the choice of a win over the points, the reigning champion spoke with poise and wisdom.
”The racer in me says the win, but overall it’s all about points. We only have two more races left, so if we can keep running with (Garvey) or stay just ahead of him then we should be able to clinch the championship two years in a row here.”