ARCA: Tom Hessert, Dakoda Armstrong, Cunningham Motorsports to Appeal Penalty

Ashley McCubbinAnalyst ISeptember 23, 2010


As talk surrounds the Sprint Cup Series with Clint Bowyer’s penalties, the ARCA Series has its own case of what looks to be an attempt at "Creative Interpretation."

In post-race tech after the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic 200, both Cunningham Motorsports drivers, race winner Dakoda Armstrong and points leader at the time Tom Hessert, failed inspection. 

Both teams were penalized $10,000 and 25 points, as per ARCA’s normal penalty.

Kerry Scherer, co-owner of Cunningham Motorsports, released a statement yesterday, stating that they’d be appealing, based upon the specified reasons.

“The Cunningham Motorsports teams, driven by Tom Hessert and Dakoda Armstrong, strive to produce the fastest, most competitive cars in the ARCA Racing Series. In no way do we ever, or will we ever, search for an illegal advantage. We feel it is unfortunate that ARCA officials have penalized our teams following the post-race inspection at Salem Speedway and plan to appeal the ruling.

“Following the event, ARCA officials alleged that the roof of the #77 car was 1/16 of an inch too low and the roof of the #22 car was 1/8 of an inch too low. We believe the post-race procedure was not a just assessment based on the following points:

· The race cars were inspected on two separate occasions before the race and passed each time.

· Our crews were unable to make any adjustments prior to the race, after the final pre-qualifying inspection, based on the fact that the cars were impounded after qualifying.

· The circumstances of the race, including the rough track surface at Salem Speedway, could have caused the springs to compress and not fully rebound prior to the post-race inspection and cause the alleged infraction.

· The spoiler of our cars met the required specifications; therefore, the alleged infraction did not provide any competitive advantage or have any bearing on the outcome of the race.

· The cars were only measured one time during post-race inspection and our crews were not given an opportunity to push the cars back through the inspection line, to double-check the accuracy of the officials’ alleged findings, as is allowed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

· Since these alleged infractions gave no competitive advantage to either Hessert or Armstrong, neither driver should be punished with the loss of 25 championship points.

“The battle for the 2010 ARCA Racing Series championship is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in history. No doubt that it will come down to the wire. The racing action and competition have been tremendous. We would hate for the champion to be decided based on this penalty, and not settled on the track.”

Scherer does bring up some credible points in his defense that could very well win him the appeal.

The fact that the car passed inspection before the race on those two separate occasions does not help his case, as it could easily be argued that it was set with the settings to occur on track. We've seen this case on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series side, as drivers have been fined after races for being too low, yet were fine before.

Also, blaming it on the track's surface isn't really the best excuse to use, as that's something that the teams should be preparing for, knowing what the rules are and what's expected.

However, the argument stating that the finding was unable to be double-checked does bring up discussion. Without double-checking it, ARCA Re/Max officials are hurting their credibility, and that credibility is something the appeal board will look at.

Could this very point be what reverses the appeal and sees a change in the tech inspection process for ARCA? Very well as relying back to what is considered ARCA's big brother to some NASCAR, they've strengthened their credibility considerably.

This will be a very important decision for the appeal board, as if the penalties were to be reversed, Hessert would regain the points lead and be 10 points ahead of Patrick Sheltra.