22nd Reinhart ends in dramatic fashion on and off track

Last-lap contact with Tyler Droste turned out to be the least of R.J. Gonzales' concerns when the dust settled at Quad City Speedway on Sunday night.

Some problems turned out to be bigger than others for the No. 39G, and that could be a tough pill for Gonzales to swallow in the coming days after the 22nd Gary Reinhart Memorial. The 30-lap, $1,500-to-win Iowa-Illinois Termite and Pest Control IMCA Modified feature was caution-free but loaded with drama in the late stages and post race.

Gonzales won the race on the track after contact with the No. 92T of Tyler Droste on the final lap -- Droste still went on to finish second in the running order. Gonzales had lapped traffic on the high side to deal with, so he dropped low in Turn 2, forcing Droste to make a move up high.

"I saw the white flag, and there were lapped cars running my line in turns one and two on the top," Gonzales said, "so I drove down because I knew (Droste) was down there. I went down and he drove around me on the top. I slid up and we touched, and I was up in the air. I didn't mean to get into him. It's racing."

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Droste and Gonzales' contact was solid, and it lifted Gonzales' rear end off the track. Droste didn't see the incident the same way.

"He screwed up on the bottom through one and two, and I got above him," Droste said of the final lap. "We got next to him, and he drove in there and never turned or never lifted. He came across my nose and dirtied the (heck) out of me, but I guess that's racing to him."

The cars of Gonzales and Droste were in the technical inspection line for the rest of the night. This is where things got really interesting. One of the tech inspectors found that Gonzales had an oversized brake caliper (by one-quarter of an inch) on the right-front and a smaller caliper on the left-front.

Inspectors disqualified Gonzales, but QCS track promoter Randy Swanson gave Gonzales a chance to send an appeal for the calipers to IMCA, which he did. Because an IMCA official disqualified the car at the venue, it is disqualified for the time being. Until the official decision is reached by IMCA, possibly sometime this week, Droste is the unoffical winner of the race.

"They have to be within a certain spec of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) size," Droste said. "The tech guy told that he doesn't see how it's going to get overturned."

If the disqualification stands, it's a heartbreaker for Gonzales, who has been friends of the Reinhart family since he was young. He woke up on Sunday morning wanting to win it for them. He will have to stay tuned, like everyone else, to see what IMCA's ruling is.

"If I lose it, it's going to suck," said Gonzales, "but we sent the calipers to IMCA. Hopefully, they take a better look at it. If I'm disqualified, congrats to Tyler. Obviously, I shouldn't have had the part on there if it is, in fact, illegal."

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