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Lucas Oil Speedway

Lucas suspends Vaught one year for pit incident

June 2, 2010, 1:49 pm
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com chief writer
Will Vaught
Will Vaught

Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series rookie Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., who was disqualified from Saturday's 18th annual Dart Show-Me 100 for bulldozing another driver's car through the hot pit area, has been suspended from series competition for one year, the series announced Wednesday. | Complete Show-Me 100 coverage

The 23-year-old Vaught is also suspended from competition through May 30, 2011, at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., which hosted the event, and with the Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association, which co-sanctioned Missouri's richest Dirt Late Model race.

"While with on-track incidents it can be difficult to determine whether the incident was an accident or purposeful, Mr. Vaught’s actions were clearly deliberate, and dangerous to the other driver, and exposed crew members to great risk," Lucas Oil Series director Ritchie Lewis said in a press release. "This type of action cannot and will not be tolerated. Will is a good man that will be an asset to many forms of racing for years to come. He made a mistake and will pay for his off-track actions and move forward."

Vaught apologized for his actions to the series and in a statement, and said in an interview he immediately regretted retaliating.

"I would like to take this time to apologize to my fans, competitors, sponsors, family and friends for my actions taken Saturday night at the Show-Me 100 in Wheatland, Mo.," Vaught wrote in a statement released Tuesday. "I used poor judgment and I'm truly sorry for my actions. I can assure everyone that this will never happen again."

The incident was triggered by a collision between Vaught and Jesse Stovall of Galena, Mo., on the backstretch which caused a lap-58 caution. Stovall steered his damaged No. 00 around the track to the hot pit area behind turn two while Vaught's damaged No. 1 came to a rest in turn three.

Stovall's car owner, Steve Rushin, said several crew members attended to Stovall's car while Vaught drove the wrong way down the backstretch and into the pits through the turn-two track entrance. Vaught rammed into Stovall's machine nose-to-nose, bulldozing the car an estimated 200 feet, Stovall said. There were no reports of injuries.

The 29-year-old Stovall said before the suspension was announced that he hoped it would be severe enough to teach Vaught a lesson. "I want him to know that he's done something wrong," he said.

Vaught and Stovall agreed there's tension between them because Vaught drives for the Paul McKenna-owned team that fielded cars for Stovall in 2008 and early '09, but Vaught said he "wasn't thinking right" when he retaliated for the on-track collision.

"I just let the situation entice me. ... when I pulled off the track, people were giving me hand gestures and stuff, and I just lost my cool," Vaught said. "I know people talk bad about me, but I lose my cool very seldom, and try to stay very calm. It was just one of those times when I screwed up."

After 14 series events, Vaught was third in Quarter Master Rookie of the Year points behind Chris Wall and Eric Wells, and 15th in overall points. His best finish was third on two occasions, April 23 at Bedford (Pa.) Speedway and May 23 at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa.

Series officials stressed that only Vaught — not McKenna's team — is under suspension.

Vaught is the first Lucas Oil Series driver punished for misconduct since February 2009, when Terry Casey of New London, Wis., was suspended five races and fined $5,000 for on-track retaliation against Josh Richards at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla.

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