Mark Martino’s surprising run to the semifinals at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., on Aug. 19 ended abruptly.
Following his second-round victory over Larry Morgan, his Charter-sponsored Pontiac GXP weighed 2,345 pounds, five pounds light of the minimum weight at the scales, thus he was disqualified. The 2,350 pounds of the car also includes the driver.
“We weighed 2,345 pounds the first time we went on the scales and we went on again and we weighed 2,345 pounds,” Martino said Friday prior to qualifying at the U.S. Nationals. “We were shocked. My crew asked to see the weight of the car (that came up on the scales) and they (NHRA officials) said no. Apparently everybody thought that was the rule (that you couldn’t see the weight of your car on the scales).”
Graham Light, the NHRA’s senior vice president-racing operations, told CompetitionPlus.com Friday that isn’t a rule to not allow drivers to look at the scales.
“I wasn’t there and apparently there was a miscommunication at that race (Brainerd), and the tech guys did not let him look at it (the weight of his car on the scales), which is a mistake,” Light said. “They are entitled to look at it. We typically do not allow the teams to watch everybody else’s weight. Everybody who is legal weight gets to go ahead. They do not need to be congregating. When we have a case of a car being light or fuel is wrong the racer has the right to see what the numbers are.”
Light is confident the drivers will not have a problem viewing the weight of their cars on the scales anymore.
“That will not happen again,” Light said.
When told Light said he and his crew should have been allowed to look at the scales, Martino was surprised.
“Even if we looked at it and it said it, what are you going to do?” Martino said. “It is what it is. At least someone is saying something. It was a little frustrating there (at Brainerd) because I gave my spiel and nobody wanted to hear it, but Graham wasn’t there. We are not accusing anybody of anything. We just want to make sure everybody knows we didn’t try to do something and get away with it. That is not the way we run our program. We like to run at 2,355 pounds because you never know.”
At Brainerd, Martino’s crew was told his car weighed 2,355 pounds after its first qualifying run, 2360 after its second qualify run and 2,355 after his third qualifying run. Martino’s car didn’t make it all the way down the track on its fourth qualifying pass, so the car was not weighed.
Following Martino’s first-round upset win over Greg Anderson, his car’s weight was bouncing between 2350 and 2,355 pounds.
“After our second round win (against Larry Morgan) our car weighed 2,345 pounds twice,” said Martino, whose team has its rig at Victor Cagnazzi’s shop in Mooresville, N.C. “We didn’t touch the car at all. It had the same tires, same engine, same (transmission), and same clutch.”
Now that Martino knows he has the right to look at the scales, he will.
“We will make sure (we look at the scales),” said Martino, who resides in Stoney Creek, Canada, which is 30 miles south of Toronto. “Hopefully it never happens again (that his car is under weight), but if it does we will get everybody down there (at the scales) so everybody can see what it going on. Graham, my crew, just to make sure everybody can see what it is going on.”
This weekend at Indy, Martino is taking steps to make sure his car isn’t too light.
“We are going to run 10 pounds heavy, 2,360,” Martino said. “We have five pound weight pucks and we will add them to make sure we are not too light.”
The U.S. Nationals is the fifth race Martino has competed in this season.
“Hopefully we will go full-time next year if funding can come in,” Martino said. “We would like to keep working with Victor (Cagnazzi) and right now the quest is to see if we can get funding. If not we will do another 10 races next year.”
Martino said following Indy, he will race at Charlotte, N.C. (Sept. 14-16), St. Louis (Sept. 28-30), and he is debating between competing at Dallas (Sept. 20-23) and Reading, Pa. (Oct. 4-7). Martino made his NHRA debut in 2010 and raced a limited schedule the past three seasons.
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