Veteran driver worries about track safety at Red River Valley Speedway following recent dust-up
One driver in the hunt for a Red River Valley Speedway points title won't be at Friday's season finale after the fallout from a wreck last weekend.
Corky Thomas, who is just six points out of first in the Super Stocks, said he will skip Friday's season championship because of frustration with the way officials at the West Fargo track handled a recent dust-up with Kevin Robertson.
"It's tough not to go back because that's a point title I wanted to win," Thomas said. "They're just not doing anything to keep anybody in line, and that causes a bunch of loose cannons running out there."
The rift with Robertson started on Aug. 7 when Thomas paid for track officials to tear down and inspect Robertson's motor. Robertson's motor was deemed legal.
Last Friday, Thomas and Robertson collided on Turn 4 two laps into the Super Stocks feature, wrecking Thomas' car and knocking him from first to second in the class points race.
Thomas said he warned track officials that Robertson could be going for some revenge, and that Robertson was never warned.
"I told four or five guys at least three or four times to watch out for that, and nobody said anything to him," Thomas said. "They walk me off the track and tell me there would be penalties if I retaliate.
"To me, it was a retaliation for tearing him down."
Robertson, who hails from Enderlin, N.D., was not black-flagged for the crash, but was credited for the caution and sent to the back of the pack.
Robertson insists there was no intent to wreck Thomas' car, and that Thomas was the driver who had gotten into him.
"He had bobbled and gone up the track, and I stayed on my same line and went underneath him," Robertson said. "When contact was made, I was ahead of him. He went high, and I stayed on my same line. He came down into me.
"I didn't drive him into the wall. If a guy was going to be mean, and try and wreck another guy, aren't you going to put him into the wall?"
Flag man Don Wacker said the call could've gone either way.
"I've talked to a ton of people that think Corky got loose, and I've talked to a ton of people that think Kevin hit him," Wacker said. "To me, it was a 50-50 deal, and that happens. To be honest, we would've put them both at the back if Corky would've been able to continue."
Red River Valley Fair board manager Bryan Schulz said he stands by Wacker's call, and Schulz wasn't interested in dragging things out.
"They made a call. Not everybody is going to be happy with every call," Schulz said. "We've heard so much from both sides of this that it's hard to get it all straightened out.
"People get upset. We would just prefer it that they settle things face-to-face instead of using 1,000-pound machines."
Schulz added that he doesn't want the track to lose drivers, especially drivers like Thomas who have been mainstays at the track for years.
"It disturbs me that there are issues between the drivers, and you don't want anybody to feel like they shouldn't race here," Schulz said.
Thomas is concerned with how consistent the track is when it comes to making calls.
"No one is black-flagged out there for doing something stupid," Thomas said. "There has to be the threat of punishment for those sorts of things, or somebody's going to get hurt."
Thomas isn't the only driver concerned with the call consistency at RRVS.
"They need to get more involved with the drivers," Super Stocks driver Todd Carter said. "The facility is second to none. The payouts are awesome. The track prep is awesome.
"They do everything right, except they make some bad decisions that affect the drivers."
Modifieds driver Blake Jegtvig agreed with Carter's assessment.
"The rules change from one week to the next, it seems like, and they're not consistent with how they call stuff," Jegtvig said. "You hear about (drivers like Corky not racing there) and it makes you wonder how many drivers will be there next year? How many drivers will be there next week?
"They have to be more in tune with the drivers and get more consistency."
During a Modified feature last season, Jegtvig alerted the officials that his RACEceiver wasn't working properly. Jegtvig went on to win the race, but the victory was wiped out. He was black-flagged for racing without a working RACEceiver.
"I guess if I would've kept my mouth shut, I would've been better off," Jegtvig said with a laugh. "That's what you get for doing the right thing.
"It's that kind of thing that can get a guy frustrated."
Thomas, one of the most recognizable and popular racers in the area, has raced at RRVS for two decades. He doesn't know if he'll be back next season.
"I'd just like to see some changes to make things more consistent," Thomas said. "But I don't know if that's going to happen. If it doesn't, I'm probably not going to be racing there.
"And that's tough for me. I love the track and I love the facility."