Wayne Taylor has completed his first stint in a race car in the last four years, as he stepped out of his eponymous No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP.
Taylor, a two-time former overall winner at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, was reflective and pensive – almost a bit shaken – after the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Risi Competizione accident that caused a red flag.
“Memo’s (Gidley) accident put a damper on the evening for me. It puts everything into perspective,” Taylor told assembled reporters in the Daytona International Speedway press room.
“My stint was OK. I haven’t driven for four years. It was pretty tough,” he added, actually describing his stint. “I wanted to get in after (Ricky). We had a plan where Ricky would start, and if there’d be a caution in the second stint, I’d get in. But if no caution, we’d put Max (Angelelli) in and I’d go into into the evening. That would allow me to be in the nighttime. It was the safest thing to do.”
Taylor also had less than complimentary words of some of the gentlemen drivers in the race. Some classes require Silver and/or Bronze-rated drivers to complete the driver lineups.
“I’ve always believed in the 110 percent rule,” Wayne Taylor explained. “I always believed that every driver should have to qualify. The car… I don’t think the car qualifying is necessarily OK when you have paying drivers that quite honestly aren’t good enough to be on the track, I’ve always believed they bring this rule in.
“They just need to stay on line and we’d find a way around them. They change their mind and run in the middle of the track, safe with room on right and left.”
It was a sentiment SRT Viper factory driver Dominik Farnbacher echoed in the next media availability.
“Without saying any names, there are some people who don’t know where to go,” he said.
Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.
Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.
On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.
One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.
After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.
The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.
Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.
“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.
“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”
But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.
“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.
“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”
Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.
“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.
“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”
The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.