From left, Dave Hamm, of Attleboro, Mass., Mark Dupont, of Taunton, Mass., Dennis Hamm, of Raynham, Mass., and John Kazarian, of N. Providence, R.I., stand at attention during the National Anthem prior to the start of the first annual Speedway 5K road race during WOKQ FanFest Thursday night at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. (JOSH GIBNEY/UNION LEADER)
LOUDON — Jeff Rieman came to New Hampshire Motor Speedway's FanFest Thursday to have some words with one of the two drivers scheduled to be there, Clint Bowyer.
Bowyer, who is among the 13 drivers chosen this year to compete in NASCAR's Chase championship, has been at the center of controversy since he allegedly spun his car at a recent race in in Richmond, Va., a move that NASCAR officials said was a deliberate attempt to help a teammmate win points.
Bowyer was the talk of fans waiting for FanFest, which regularly features two drivers meeting with NASCAR follower. But at the last minute, it was announced that Joey Logano was present, but Bowyer couldn't appear. No reason was given.
"I'm mad as hell," said Reimer, who is from Meriden, Conn. "I still respect him as a driver, but he spun his car out on purpose, and he won't admit it."
"He did it on purpose, and that taints the race. I was going to ask him about it here, but he didn't show up."
Benjamin Hunter of Rochester agreed.
"What he did was a load of crap," Hunter said. "The thing that bothers me is that another driver (Martin Truex Jr.) didn't make the Chase because of it."
Most at FanFest said they would still watch the race, and some thought too much was being made of the incident, which caused NASCAR to impose penalties on the drivers and crews involved.
"I don't think what Bowyer did was right, but it's been going on for years in the sport," said Jeff LaPierre of Lee. "It really doesn't spoil anything for me, though."
"NASCAR made a point to everybody with the penalties, no more horsing around," said Allan Machado of Concord. "To me, the story is over, time to move on."
Reiman had the same feelings. "As long as it's a good race, I don't care," he said.
"But it still bugs me, with all the cheating that goes on in other sports, it definitely taints this sport, and other drivers are hurt in the process."