High Hopes for Bassett Jr. Dashed by Point Leader
After capturing the Sunoco Pole at Newport, Ronnie Bassett Jr's team had high hopes for the race. However, a frustrating outcome leaves to them to focus all their resources on claiming the championship for Dillon Bassett.
Ronnie Bassett Jr. came into Newport Speedway for the Jeff’s Auto Sales 150 looking to solidify his controversial accomplishments. Although it was not the race they were hoping for, the Bassett Racing team made accomplishments at a track they have previously struggled.
Coming off two consecutive disqualifications at Kingsport and Anderson, the team decided if they were going to continue with the UARA series, they needed to work closely with UARA officials. In an extra effort to see that they were conforming to the rules as officials saw fit, crew chief Chris Lawson called UARA President Kerry Bodenhamer to come look over the cars at the race shop and the team would agree to make any changes he saw necessary.
After making only the recommended minor body changes, the team headed to Newport. Ronnie Bassett Jr. topped the charts in Friday practice sessions with a 13.071 lap time. He backed that up in qualifying Saturday afternoon with a 13.069, giving him his first Sunoco pole of the season over Scott Turlington by one-thousandth of a second.
Bassett Jr. and his team were confident in their Bassett Gutters & More Ford going into the 150 lap event on the grueling 4/10 mile track. Early on in the race Turlington, Bassett Jr., Swaim and Pressley proved to be contenders. There was great side by side racing amongst them, and unfortunately Bassett and Swaim made contact on lap 35 battling for the second position.
Swaim proved to want retaliation against Bassett for the early race contact. As the leaders made their way past Swaim in turn-two on lap 87, he slowed to aim for the 04 machine but caught the 44 Bassett Racing machine instead bringing out the yellow flag.
After the incident, Bassett Racing expected Swaim to receive a black flag for the intentional contact. While one was not issued, Ronnie Bassett Jr. was forced to mirror drive the next 40 laps anticipating another attempt.
With Bassett currently running in the third position, the lapped car of Swaim slowed on the track to fall in line with him. Coming out of turn-four on lap 132 the two made contact causing both to slide up the track, placing the 28 car behind the 04 heading into turn-one where Swaim got into the back of Bassett. Being chased out of turn-two Bassett was forced to look to his mirror in an effort to avoid being wrecked in turn-three.
Unfortunately two lap cars had spun in turn-three already collecting the leader. Bassett Jr. saw the carnage in front of him, trying to go low but clipped Kaleb Pressley and shot hard into the outside wall worsening the damage for Tim George Jr.
A dejected Ronnie Bassett Jr. luckily walked away unharmed after hard contact. “I’m just disappointed that race had to end like that for us. The car was strong all night. The early contact was unfortunate, but for him to take it to that level was unreasonable. A lot of great racecars got destroyed. Our car was batting 100, and now it’s junk,” commented the young driver.
With the timing of back to back weekends for UARA, the 04 Bassett Racing team does not have sufficient time to repair the mangled racecar nor get the motor fixed for Hickory. Currently the team plans to head to Langley Speedway on July 28 for the 5th Annual Hampton Heat.
Bassett Jr. commented on missing the Hickory race, “It is a shame. We run well there, and were looking to take both Hickory races this season. But we will focus all our effort into Dillon’s car and go fight to get him the championship.” Dillon Bassett currently sits second in the standings, 20 points behind Travis Swaim.
Keep up with Ronnie Bassett Jr. on Twitter @Bulldog_04 and Bassett Racing @Bassettracing1 for updates on Ronnie’s 2012 race schedule.