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Game on: Truck tempers overflow in Canada

September 01, 2013, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com

Dillon-Elliott, Papis-Skeen skirmishes add to late-race drama

BOWMANVILLE, Canada -- NASCAR did its best old-time hockey impersonation in the Great White North on Sunday afternoon, with drivers dropping the gloves and bracing to square off after a tense final few laps at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Ty Dillon vowed retaliation against first-time winner Chase Elliott as their crews engaged in a tense standoff. German Quiroga Jr. and James Buescher made cool-down lap contact. Max Papis and Mike Skeen took that act one step further, with Skeen’s girlfriend smacking Papis on the post-race walk back to the garage. Papis later said on his Twitter account that he had a dislocated jaw from the slap.

Sunday’s inaugural Chevrolet Silverado 250 was a rousing debut for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in Canada with a dramatic finish, a fresh face in Victory Lane, boiling tempers and plenty of on-track contact in the late stages which could act as kindling wood to ignite rivalries down the season’s home stretch.

The Dillon-Elliott skirmish ranks first and foremost in the made-for-TV drama that road course races seem to produce on a fairly regular basis. When Dillon’s low-on-gas truck began to sputter in the next-to-last lap, his nearly two-second lead vanished, allowing Elliott to close in on the final time around the 2.459-mile track. By the final turn, Elliott’s look to the inside resulted in contact and Dillon’s No. 3 Richard Childress Chevrolet looping helplessly into the outer tire barrier.

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The RCR crew left its pit stall, marching up pit road to meet the Elliott’s No. 94 Hendrick Motorsports team. When Elliott entered pit lane in the opposite direction, Dillon turned a quick about-face and leaned into the winner’s truck for pointed words and a promise for payback.

“I got wrecked by a kid who just comes in and runs a couple races a year, trying to get experience and he wrecks point contenders,” said Dillon, who led a race-high 25 of 64 laps but had just a 17th-place finish to show for it. “I told him that he ain’t going to finish Iowa if he runs it. Whichever race he’s in, he ain’t going to finish it. So, pretty unhappy with him. He does it to a lot of people. He did it to my brother at the last road course race. Try to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s going to race you clean, but he don’t know how to, I guess. We’ll give it back.”

Elliott, who celebrated as the truck series’ youngest winner at age 17 and change, said he could see how Dillon would cry foul.

“He obviously wasn’t happy. He’s got a right not to be happy,” Elliott said. “I wouldn’t have been happy either, but at the same time, like we all three said, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. ... He just told me I was better than that, and we’re probably going to have some problems next week at Iowa, so we’ll just have to play it by ear when we get there.”

The tangle between the two newly minted young rivals happened just ahead of another fracas that was about to erupt. Papis, the road-racing veteran, and Skeen, a young driver with a history of recent success at the former Mosport track, tangled twice in the final two laps through the same Turn 8 through 10 complex that completes the course.

Both drivers wound up in the tires in sight of the checkered flag, setting off a maelstrom of post-race bumps, finger-pointing and angry words between the two. But that was nothing compared to the flush, open-handed slap delivered by a woman who identified herself as Skeen’s girlfriend, yelling, “That’s what you deserve!” at the Italian driver.

“It was just a very inexperienced guy moved me, you know,” said Papis, who was on the delivering end of the most recent slap in a NASCAR national series post-race, issued to Billy Johnson after the Nationwide event in June at Road America. “We drove really well, nice and clean and the guy just ... it was just disappointing. He should have not done that to me.”

Skeen, who was blazing fast in every practice leading up to the series’ first international event, shrugged off the contact.

“I can certainly see his anger,” Skeen said after placing 13th in his first truck series start. “The pass that I pulled off earlier in the race, I was going to try to do it again and didn’t think he was going to come down on me as much, didn’t think I would wheel-hop it, and two bad situations got worse. I feel bad for him. I feel bad for us.”

Papis and Skeen are unlikely to be on the same entry list for the series’ next race, next Sunday at Iowa Speedway, but Dillon and Elliott will be. Dillon’s golden chance to advance on series leader Matt Crafton, who finished 10th, evaporated with his last-lap spin but gaining or losing points was far from his mind in the immediate aftermath.

“It doesn’t matter any more,” Dillon said. “I’m going out winning races or wrecking trucks. It doesn’t matter any more.”

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