Tuttle takes a wild ride at Elko Speedway. ELKO, Minn. (June 17, 2002) - When Russ Tuttle climbed out of his No. 16 Team Conseco Pontiac yesterday in the American Speed Association (ASA) Governor's Cup 300 he was hoping to be making his way to...
Tuttle takes a wild ride at Elko Speedway.
ELKO, Minn. (June 17, 2002) - When Russ Tuttle climbed out of his No. 16 Team Conseco Pontiac yesterday in the American Speed Association (ASA) Governor's Cup 300 he was hoping to be making his way to victory lane. Instead, Tuttle's world was turned upside down, literally, on lap 105 of the 300-lap event.
The No. 16 Conseco Pontiac rolled off the truck on Saturday with a nearly perfect set-up. The car handled so well in the first practice (the eighth fastest car), that the team decided to experiment in the second practice hoping to better its lap times. When the times didn't improve, the team went back to their original set-up and prepared for qualifying. The decision to go back to square one clearly was the right choice. Tuttle cut a qualifying lap of 94.624 miles per hour and landed himself in the fourth starting position.
Tuttle kept the Team Conseco Pontiac hovering between the top-five and top-10 cars for the first 100 laps of the event. When the low air pressure of the BF Goodrich tires seemed to be slowing the car, crew chief Glen Allen Jr. called for a two tire and fuel pit stop. Tuttle came down pit road to the attention of his crew at lap 100 and headed back onto the track with the checkered flag in mind.
Unfortunately, his hopes for a strong finish were dashed when the No. 94 car of Paul Paine made contact with No. 16, who then sent the No. 66 of Pat Kelly into the wall. As the No. 16 slid to the bottom of the track in turn one, the No. 14 of Doug Mahlik T-boned the Team Conseco green machine in the right rear. The impact of the No. 14 car sent Tuttle's entry into the air and onto its roof. ASA officials quickly red flagged the event in order to attend to Tuttle who was strapped in his flipped racecar.
Inside the car, Tuttle attempted to free himself while trying to avoid contact with the hot oil and fluids running inside the car. With the aid of track safety personnel and several members of opposing teams, Tuttle was finally freed from the car after his head and neck restraint system was cut to free him. Once back on his feet, Tuttle assessed the damage to both his car and himself. Both were injured.
The Team Conseco Pontiac suffered heavy damage to the rear end of the automobile, which forced Tuttle to hang up his helmet for the rest of the event. Additionally, Tuttle, while still able to wish his father a "Happy Father's Day" in a post-race interview, suffered from an injury of his right hand.
"It was our best start of the season and I was confident we could have finished the race with a top-five," stated a frustrated Tuttle. "We are going to need to assess the damage to the car and see what we do from here."
The American Speed Association makes its next appearance at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Missouri this Saturday evening. The event will be aired tape delayed on The National Network (TNN).