Bizarre reversal takes Douglas out of winner'S circle in CORR Pro-4 finale at Unadilla.
Edmeston, NY...Scott Douglas was finishing up his winner's circle celebration and the associated media interviews following yesterday's thrilling Championship Off Road Racing Pro-4 contest here Sunday when he learned there was nothing to celebrate.
In a bizarre reversal of fortune that transpired in what seemed to be a matter of seconds, CORR officials black-flagged Douglas and the popular Rancho Ford F-150 and gave the season-ending victory to Curt LeDuc.
In what many on hand described as the best Pro-4 contest in memory, Douglas had stalked LeDuc over the final half of Sunday's 15-minute round, closing a 10-truck lead to a matter of feet heading into the final, hairpin turn at Unadilla Valley Sports Center. LeDuc took the faster outside line into the turn then cut sharply inside when the Rancho Ford began to pass him. The resulting moderate contact left Douglas on his inside line and the Rancho Ford throttled to apparent victory over the final 100 yards.
"Curt had been blocking us at every corner, almost daring us to pass him on the inside," Douglas explained. "On that last turn he left a 30-foot-wide inside path for us and we took it. The videotapes clearly show we were passing him when he tried to 'close the door' by coming back inside. There was no way to avoid the contact and there was no other way for Curt to keep us from overtaking him."
Immediately following the finish, CORR officials waved Douglas into Unadilla's winner's circle for the trophy presentation and media interviews. Then, just as the celebration was ending, the sanctioning body brought LeDuc into the winner's circle and began the process all over again.
"That's a first in my career you clearly win a race, then have it taken away without any opportunity to defend yourself," Douglas said. "It seems like Curt must have made a lot of noise after the race and the officials made a knee-jerk decision to keep him happy."
CORR rules don't permit a protest by the Douglas Motorsports team because the decision was considered a "judgment call." Douglas said multiple videos of the final lap show that judgment was flawed.
"The videos not only show that we made a perfectly legal pass to win this race but that Curt had repeatedly blocked us on the corners throughout the race to keep from getting passed," he said. "I kept lifting or braking to avoid slamming him in those situations and did everything I could to avoid contact at the end, but he made it clear that he was going to do anything to save the race."
The resulting second-place finish put Douglas in third position overall in season-ending points, just 19 digits behind champion Carl Renezeder.
"I congratulate Carl on a fantastic season especially the last four or five races where he was just on fire," Douglas said. "He's a great spokesman for our sport and the Pro-4 category."
As for Douglas, himself a two-time Pro-4 champion and winner of 51 off-road races, it's time to start thinking about next year. "Our team closed the season with an unbelievable effort. We know we're in great shape for another title run in 2004."
The popular Rancho Ford features the most advanced engine, suspension and driveline technologies in CORR racing, including a futuristic Rancho suspension system, Wolverine Performance LLC Ford Racing Technology V8 engine, Reider Racing/Precision Gear differentials, and BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tires.
The truck gains additional power and its unforgettable sound from a DynoMax Performance exhaust system.
For more information on Scott Douglas and the Rancho Ford, check out the Douglas Motorsports website at www.douglasmotorsports.com. Also be sure to visit www.gorancho.com and www.dynomax.com for more information on the world's best suspension and exhaust systems.