CHARLOTTE — On Wednesday morning, PASS officials addressed the situation during Saturday night’s race, which led to penalties against David Gilliland Racing and the team’s decision on Tuesday to withdraw from the series.
The lengthy statement reads:
“Following Saturday night’s Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway, driver of the No. 99, Raphael Lessard, was disqualified due to the inappropriate actions of his crew chief/spotter, Seth Smith, following the event. The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) would like to further clarify what transpired leading to the disqualification.
“First, Lessard was warned and fined $500 for intentionally spinning the No. 89 car driven by Lee Hansard on lap 59. Mr. Hansard is a veteran of short-track racing in the southeast and has competed with PASS on a limited basis for over 10 years. While Lessard was battling for the lead, Mr. Hansard was racing hard to stay on the lead lap when he was unnecessarily tagged from behind by the No. 99 car.
“Second, on the ensuing restart, Preston Peltier passed Lessard on the track for the lead when the caution immediately waved for a crash by Dawson Cram on the front straightaway. The No. 99 team incorrectly assumed that PASS reverts to the last completed lap in scoring. Lessard passed Peltier under caution, was told to give the position back, and was again warned and fined $500 for illegally passing under yellow.
“In reality, as PASS has done since the sanctioning body began in 2001, the field is locked when the caution waves and timing and scoring scores ahead to the next lap. Drivers, crew chiefs, and spotters were told this in the driver’s meeting prior to the race as is done at each and every PASS event.
“After the second warning for Lessard and some confusion from Smith in the spotter’s stand, Smith was summoned to race control. At this time, Smith was told that the team had received its last warning and would be penalized or parked for any further infractions that disrupted the event.
“Following the race, Smith returned to race control, this time, not invited. Smith was warned by another PASS official on multiple occasions to not enter race control and that he could talk to PASS officials after a ‘cooling off’ period. Despite this, Smith entered race control without permission and the No. 99 car driven by Raphael Lessard was summarily disqualified.
“PASS never publicizes penalties or fines to eliminate further embarrassment for teams and their sponsors. However, PASS officials felt that the record needed to be cleared when the abovementioned team released slanderous statements that were blatantly untrue.”