Chad Criswell Light On Scale, Disqualified From Williams Grove 358 Sprint Car Win After Track Went The Extra Distance For His Team
By STEPHEN BUBB
Friday night, at Williams Grove Speedway, Chad Criswell edged out Derek Locke to become the first repeat 2023 358 Sprint Car feature winner. Or so it appeared. Twenty minutes later, after several attempts to weigh the car, and the car weighed on a different scale, the Criswell machine was declared underweight and the win went to Derek Locke.
The disqualification, which Criswell handled quite well, appears to be a matter of fuel. When Criswell’s car was returned to his pit, the team quickly checked their fuel level. The stick was applied to the fuel tank and did not register any fuel. As many know, a gallon of racing fuel weighs just over seven pounds. While Criswell’s machine was almost out of fuel, second-place finisher Derek Locke still had plenty of fuel.
Early in the evening, as the 358 Sprint Cars reported to the back pit scale, Williams Grove official Dan Richcreek wrote down the weight of each machine. When Chad Criswell went across the scale following his heat race, the car weighed in at 1590 pounds.
The 20-lap feature had a series of cautions in the early laps and another series of cautions in the final laps. As per the 410 Sprint Cars, a count is kept on the number of laps toured around the track monitoring the fuel consumption. On a big half-mile, the 410 Sprint Cars can swallow a gallon a lap while the 358s have a lower consumption rate.
Following the completion of the 358 Sprint Car feature, where Criswell defeated Locke by a length, the top five finishers reported to the backstretch scale. Criswell was the first on the scale. Criswell’s weight showed the car was light. What puzzled track official Richcreek was the car was much lighter than the earlier 1,590 pounds.
Richcreek and other Williams Grove track officials checked the four-wheel scales. The scales were pulled and cleaned. Criswell’s car was pushed onto the scale several times, re-positioned several times and with each check, the car came up light.
Behind Criswell’s car were the other top four machines. The suggestion was made to remove the Criswell car and weigh the Derek Locke machine. The Locke car was brought onto the scale and his No. 77 made weight with no issues.
The Criswell car was then brought back to the scale and weighed again, once again it was light. By this time a crowd had formed around the scales and several individuals became quite vocal. A call was made to the front stretch tower about the situation.
A decision was made to bring the cars of Criswell, Locke, and Frankie Herr to the front stretch scale. Before departing for the front stretch, the Herr car went over the scale and made weight.
The three cars reported to the front-side scale and were weighed. The Criswell car was again light while the Locke and Herr cars made weight. The decision was then made to disqualify the Criswell machine and the win would go to Locke with Herr now in second.
Back at his pit, the Chad Criswell team checked the fuel and when the stick was applied, no fuel showed. A Williams Grove official arrived at the Criswell pit and informed the team that the race was one lap away from a fuel stop.
“If they had done a fuel stop, we would have added fuel,” said Chad Criswell. “I would have been okay. But you know, nobody else got that opportunity, so if other guys made that weight, shame on us. It just happens, I am not upset. We’ll go back as a crew and figure it out.
“We thought we weighted a lot more than what we weighed in the heat. I am sure that is why they put in the amount of fuel they did. I guess I stood on the gas a little too hard and burnt too much of it up. Someone can blame me for that. If I had been running the bottom I would have been running less fuel.
“It is no one’s fault. The track I am sure counted the right amount of laps. It is what it is. It is disappointing I never lost that one that way. It seemed like my whole career has been like a never-ending story of either I just win and the car breaks or I am going to win and the car breaks. The first time I drove the Super Sportsman at Lincoln, I just passed Rich Eichelberger for the lead and our car stopped and that sucked. Earlier this year at Lincoln, we passed the checkered line and the car broke. So, it is part of it. Some you are going to win, some you are going to lose. Tonight, we lost and it just sucks.”
Chad Criswell did talk to Williams Grove Speedway manager Justin Loh and was happy with the way the situation was handled by the Grove officials. “It is part of racing,” Criswell said to Loh. “There is nothing to be mad about, we didn’t do our job. Everybody has got to do their job so we move on. I am not mad, just disappointed. Your guys were all professional and everybody did a good job.”
When Derek Locke arrived back at his pit following his victory lane celebration, one of the first drivers to congratulate Locke was Criswell. Locke’s team had topped off the fuel tank before the race which helped in an event with extra caution laps.
“We had a good bit of fuel,” said Derek Locke. “We had like 12 gallons left. I save fuel under the caution. The 358s don’t burn that much fuel. We pack our fuel. We put a full 28 gallons in. We always like to have a little insurance. With the 410 you go through a gallon a lap. We have to pack it for that so we pack it for this thing too.”