Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series director explains Late Model Nationals fuel stop
2004 was the first year of the Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals at Knoxville Raceway. Since it’s inception, 14 years ago, the race weekend has concluded with a 100 lap main event.
I spoke to the series director at Knoxville Raceway. What’s changed in these cars? Why can’t they make it 100 laps? What’s the plan going forward? He has the answers…
“Well they ran out of fuel the last two years,” Rick Schwallie stated from the pit lane of Knoxville Raceway.
“The last couple years, we’ve had about 5+ cars run out. The cars, these days, are on the gas into the corner and through the corner more than they ever have been. So, they’re consuming more fuel.”
100 laps is a stretch for these cars at Knoxville Raceway under most circumstances. But, there’s some things the fans don’t see.
The last few years, teams have been pouring fuel right up to the rim of the fuel tank. Then, crews were pushing the cars through tech and all the way out to the starting grid, on the racetrack. All the while, fuel was spilling out of the breather tube and onto the racetrack, because the tanks were too fuel.
That’s not normal. Usually, these drivers will start the cars from the hauler and drive it around the track to their starting grid. But, in years past at Knoxville Raceway, every drop of fuel saved was an important drop. That extra lap saved could get you across the line, under power.
“All that stuff, is stuff we don’t need to be dealing with,” Rick Schwallie explains.
“There’s not another racetrack that’s like this one. Eldora’s just as big, but Eldora gets slicker. It’s comparing apples to oranges.”
“The last couple years, this one has been really fast on Saturday night for the feature. It might be slower. We might not have a fuel issue at all, but we gotta prepare for that.”
The 2017 fuel stop is more or less a bandage to get all of these cars across the finish line. If the race was trimmed to 80 laps, they could get there without a fuel stop.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series isn’t looking to run fuel milage races. The options are; fuel stop or less laps.
So, what’s the plan for 2018?
“The racetrack and I have talked. We’ll probably end up letting the fans decide. Some sort of social media vote,” Rick Schwallie concludes.
The 2017 Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals will conclude tonight. The winner at Knoxville Raceway will head home with a $40,000 winners check.
Author: Shane Walters