NASCR’s Whelen Modified Tour rolled into Riverhead (Riverhead, Long Island, New York) for the running of the ‘Riverhead 200’ on Saturday night.
The day began with an hour long practice session, followed by qualifying and a 25-lap heat race. In the end, Renee took a provisional starting position and started 27th in the field.
Starting from the back, the team began the race with a strategy of just trying to stay on the lead-lap, while avoiding any accidents. Riverhead Tour races are notorious for being caution-filled, as it’s a track where passing is difficult.
That plan came to a tire screeching haul on lap 26 when Renee spun to the infield after being hit from behind by the 88 car (Riverhead regular Dave Brigati). At that point, the car went a lap down as Renee attempted to pull back onto the race surface.
“We obviously weren’t happy to flat out get turned, but we kept at it hoping to get the lucky dog,” offered Renee.
That opportunity never came. On lap 73, Renee was again dumped by the 88 car entering turn three. This time, several other cars piled in – with significant contact to the left rear of the No. 90 car. The team pitted and changed the left rear, speedily returning the car to competition. Just a few laps later, Renee felt something let go in the rear of the car and pulled to the infield. Upon inspection by the crew, a broken left-side axle was found. Versus’ broadcast footage of the accident can be found in this video clip (the accident is featured at about the 2 minute 10 second mark).
Renee explained: “Axles don’t usually just break. The guys soon discovered that the contact in the left rear was severe enough to bend the axle tube. When we went back out, the tube was rubbing on the axle – and that friction quickly caused the axle to snap. If we had put another axle in, the same thing would have just happened again. Aside from replacing the straight rear with a quick change – which wasn’t going to happen in the time we had left, we didn’t have any option but to take a DNF (did not finish).”
“I was clearly pissed to get wrecked by the same guy twice. There’s no history between us and there was absolutely no reason for him to get into me. I expressed my frustration. Twice. During the second confrontation – when his crew members started to get a little too mouthy for my liking – he shut them up by flatly admitting that he just plain wrecked us both times. He didn’t have much else to offer other than, in his opinion, ‘that’s short track racing.’ I don’t know, maybe he’s watched too much Madhouse or something – but that’s not short track racing.”
Riverhead marked the start of a busy stretch for the WMT – with four races scheduled over just 18 days. The team will race again this Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway (Stafford Springs, CT) for a 150-lap race.