TULSA, Okla. — Shane Golobic and Tanner Carrick showcased plenty of speed during Warren CAT Qualifying Night Tuesday at the 35th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
Unfortunately, after their paths crossed several times in the 30-lap main event, neither driver ended up with anything to show for his pace. Neither one was particularly happy with the other, either.
Golobic and Carrick’s battle was perhaps the loudest of the dramatic storylines from the chaotic night and at times it appeared one or both of them might be able to finish among the top two and lock themselves into Saturday’s 55-lap headliner.
Then lap seven came along and a restart changed the course of the race.
As the field came to the green flag, third-running Carrick clipped the restart cone on the frontstretch, sending it toward the infield and necessitating a caution flag to put the cone back into place.
Carrick appeared to have gotten a tap from Golobic that got his No. 98k slightly out of shape as it got up to speed on the restart, but as Carrick was the one who physically hit the cone, he was penalized to the rear of the field. The penalty was consistent to similar instances Monday and Tuesday.
That elevated Golobic into podium contention and Golobic later passed Thomas Meseraull to take the runner-up spot as well, but the story wasn’t over just yet.
After clicking off laps following a restart with nine to go, coming to the white flag, leader Kyle Larson had caught Carrick to put him a lap down and slid to the inside going down the frontstretch toward turn one.
Golobic attempted to follow suit and secure his place in Saturday’s main event, but suddenly, Carrick veered down the race track and the pair made contact.
Golobic’s No. 17w ramped over Carrick’s left-rear tire in turn one, where it stalled out and remained perched as another caution flag waved. Just like that, Golobic was relegated from a potential A Main starting spot to an E Main for Saturday’s alphabet soup.
Larson won the feature and Meseraull finished as the runner-up in a race he felt like he shouldn’t have been that high in. But all eyes were on Golobic and Carrick.
There was no physical altercation, but there were several verbal jabs delivered in their post-race interviews. For Golobic’s part, he took responsibility despite his disappointment.
“We were just kind of cruising along in the rubber, just trying to hold on to second right behind Kyle,” Golobic said. “I don’t know if we had a shot, because it was just cruising the bottom and I wasn’t really willing to do anything too crazy to try and win it — second was going to be good enough. But Kyle got under a lapped car, and typically lapped cars know the leaders are coming in and don’t completely chop down to the bottom.
“I knew I had T-Mez behind me, so I hummed it in there … nothing crazy, I wasn’t trying to run anybody over, but I was just trying to at least hold on to second, which is so important here. The B Mains are not things you want to be in,” Golobic added. “But I got under Tanner Carrick there and he decided to chop down, I guess. And that was it. Looking back, I should really have considered who I was racing with and know that a driver like that is going to do things like that.
“I’m going to put that on myself and say that, maybe, I should have just coasted through there and tried to make my car as wide as possible. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, but I wanted to hold second. So it’s on me and I should be smarter racing with some of these guys, and especially some in particular.”
Carrick was understanding of the situation, but he wasn’t exactly apologetic, either.
“On the early restart, I think I had a little help from behind and got pushed into the cone. It doesn’t take much on these restarts; if you barely get tapped from behind, you’re already pointing the wrong way. No harm, no feelings there, but that really ruined my whole race, honestly,” Carrick noted. “Getting put to the back on a track that’s one lane to where you can’t pass is not what you want to have happen.
“Then when Kyle passed me, I tried falling back in line behind him and I got absolutely ran through by Golobic. He was trying to blame it on me, I guess, but if they go watch the replay they’ll realize what happened,” Carrick added. “You can’t do much there when you’re the guy in the front. It’s different if you’re the guy running through someone from behind, but that’s racing.
“They’ll realize it and they’ll get over it.”
Despite the pair’s misfortune, both Carrick and Golobic believe they can still make runs through Saturday’s alphabet soup and have cars capable of being in the grand finale.
“I think this is the best speed I’ve had here since I’ve been here, honestly,” Carrick said. “Every time I went out on the track, I was up in the top three. That’s kind of hard to complain about, even with what happened at the end there. We’ll be back Saturday and give it a go.”
“I feel like our Matt Wood Racing cars are really good. I think last night and tonight have showed that, with three cars that all had a shot to run top two,” Golobic pointed out. “We just haven’t put a whole night together yet and we’ll come back with our other cars the next few nights and try to do that.”
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