September 16, 2008
By Allen Madding
During Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Camping World RV Rental 200 at Loudon, New Hampshire, David Starr seemed to be on a tear in his No. 11 Toyota. Starr first got into the No. 81 Chevrolet of Donny Lia sending him spinning, then Starr made contact with the No. 9 of David Reutimann sending him spinning, and finally spinning Todd Bodine in the No. 30.
All three episodes were in the turns with Starr at the bottom pushing up and spinning the competitor in the top lane. Perhaps not intentional, but Starr still has some responsibility for the contact and resulting damage to the competitors’ trucks. After three separate incidents, fans and competitors felt that a pattern was developing.
Bodine tapped Starr from behind after the race to express his displeasure with the contact that had left Bodine spinning. That all seems fair as Bodine did not spin Starr after the race and there was no contact on pit road to endanger crew members or officials.
Both drivers brought their trucks to a halt on pit road, and it all seemed to be over or was it?
Bodine’s No. 30 and Reutimann’s No. 9 are both owned and fielded by Germain Racing, so Starr had crashed two trucks prepared by the same team. Crew members were enraged as they are the guys who have to repair the carnage that Starr created, not one but two damaged trucks they would have to repair next week. One of Bodine’s crew met Starr on pit road and began opening the window net on Starr’s truck and then engaged in a heated exchange.
When Starr crawled out of his No. 11, he was almost knocked to the ground by a crew member twice his size. Starr righted himself and was met with what appeared to me -- three attempts to slap him. Starr retaliated, landing a couple of punches and managed to knock the crewman to the ground. A melee ensued with Starr’s crew trying to remove him from the incident and more members of Bodine’s crew trying to physically engage him.
NASCAR officials then entered the ruckus to try to separate the two teams and bring the fracas to an end.
Bodine’s crew member, the one that had begun the physical encounter was restrained by a NASCAR official and pulled away towards pit wall. He screamed at the NASCAR official “Turn loose of me, get you hands off of me”.
Several of the Germain crew appeared to disobey the directives of NASCAR officials and struggled with the officials as they tried to separate the crews. Todd Bodine wisely steered clear of the incident and calmly sat on the pit road wall, watching the fracas.
NASCAR summoned Starr and his crew chief Rick Gay to the NASCAR hauler along with Bodine’s crew chief Mike Hillman, Jr. and three Germain Racing team members. Eight to ten police officers also reported to the NASCAR hauler to put the incident to rest.
Following the incident, Starr was quoted as saying, “I think somebody spit on me, and when I saw somebody spit on me, I was just protecting myself,” he said. “I don’t mind it if a driver wants to come over and talk to me, but when somebody else comes and puts my window net down and puts their finger in my face and is cussing me and spit on me, well then we’ve got a problem.”
Bodine said, “There’s nothing wrong with David. He just made two mistakes today. He is a good person and a great guy to hang out with.”
NASCAR will address the situation later this week and hand out penalties as they see fit. Bodine’s actions do not seem to be anything deserving of sanctions. His crew on the other hand are certain to draw some action from the sanctioning body. When Bodine’s crew began taking Starr’s window net down and reaching into his truck, they opened the can of worms. What they got from Starr after that was of their own making.
When I competed in weekly short track racing, the track officials always made it clear in the drivers’ meeting before the race. If you go to another team’s pit area or reach into another competitor’s car, what you get is of your own making. If they whip your tail, you brought it on yourself, and we will treat you as the instigator.
Fortunately for the competitors and team members, NASCAR tends to handle these matters on their own. In local short track racing, we were not as fortunate as the tracks employed the local Sheriff’s Deputies to handle matters. Those involved in fisticuffs were hauled off in police cars and charged with assault.
Starr seemed clearly in the wrong for his involvement in the three incidents, but that is a matter for the three drivers to handle with Starr. The crew member's involvement after the event was clearly out of line and that is what NASCAR will address this week.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.