By: Scott Gaylord, driver of the ...
By: Scott Gaylord, driver of the #00 car.
We were awarded our second MOST POPULAR DRIVER AWARD at the NASCAR Winston West annual banguet at the Orleans Hotel and Casino on Sunday night. A honor I attribute to the #00 Oliver Gravity Separators/Denver Seminary team. We finished 8th in the year end points championship, making it our 8th year in the top ten.
We finished 9th this weekend in the Orleans 150 after leading the race, being penalized by NASCAR and spining out on the last lap. We also carried an in-car camera during the race for the Denver Seminary.
We were at the Las Vegas Speedway on Saturday night for the last race of the year. The weather was great and spirits were high as we headed to Vegas. The car we had wrecked at Oregon had a new speedway body and a new motor, so we thought we would be fast off the truck.
Unfortunately, the car was not good. We struggled with the car trying to get it handling better all through the practice, but nothing seemed to work. At the end of practice we were a disappointing 14th quick.
The next morning the crew worked on the car to try to get it better. Same thing in the morning practice - the car was no better and not even in the top 15 for speed. There was a fairly long break before qualifying, so the crew started looking the car over just to see if they could find any problems, as no one was sure what was wrong. Finally, it was discovered that the truck arms on the car seemed to be binding up. The crew pulled out the old arms and stuck them on for qualifying. This is a big project and we were late to the tech line, so we were penalized one lap in qualifying.
Since I only had one lap and had no idea what the car was going to do, I didn't have a great lap and qualified 17th. However, the car felt better and we had our fastest time of the weekend.
The crew went to work on the car prior to the race to recheck everything and make sure everything on the set up was correct with the big change made in a rush before qualifying.
When the green flag dropped for the race, the #00 immediately began to move to the front. The car was not perfect, but was much better. We moved into the top ten within 20 laps and had moved into the top five within 40 laps. By lap 50, he was running second. Then the bizarre part happens - the leader of the race was Brendan Gaughan from the Craftsman Truck Series. He blew his engine, which put us into the lead. The yellow flag came out to clean up the oil from the blown engine. As I was bringing his car around to the yellow, Nascar sends the pace car out onto the track as it has done thousands of times before. However, the pace car picks up the second place car as the leader, not me, so I am ahead of the pace car. Trying to figure out all of the confusion, I stop the car before the start/finish line to wait for the pace car to come by me as NASCAR requested me to do. In the mean time, for some reason Nascar opens up pit road and I am setting at the start/finish line waiting on the pace car, the other lead lap cars are coming in to pit and we are stuck on the track past pit road. As a result, I had to wait for the pace car, follow it around the track and then pit with the lapped cars, which puts us at the end of the field on the lead lap. Although a number of Nascar officials acknowledged that we got a bad deal, the head official would not (even after the race). They claimed that it was my fault. Bizarre, since they never said anything to our spotter as they usually do. Even though all of our pit stops for the night went off great, we still were at the back of the field with 40 laps to go when the race went green again.
We were able to move the car back up through the field into the top five with 10 laps to go, but this set of tires was not as good as the last set and I had used up more of them moving through the traffic in the field. I got back up as high as 4th, and was running 5th on the last lap when a car was me on the outside for the position. I ran it hard into one and the car pushed up, I tried to not to get into the other car but I got together with the 90 car and we both spun. The 90 car got into the wall and I was able to make it back around to the checkered flag and finish 9th.
What a weekend of ups and downs! The other frustrating thing was that we finished 8th in points, only one point out of 7th place after that bizarre race and finish.
The race will be televised on tape delay on the Speed Channel on November 25, which should be good because we carried an in-car camera during the race for the Denver Seminary. It will be interesting to see the announcers explain the pace car issue that put us at the back of the pack.
We hope to be in Phoenix in February to kick off the 2003 racing season!