Five Flags Speedway chief technical inspector Ricky Brooks says he set out to find a traction control chip on Chase Elliott following his victory in the Snowball Derby but instead found the block of tungsten that forced him to issue a disqualification.
As is standard procedure after every Snowball Derby, Elliott was forced to change out of his firesuit in the tech shed while his radio and helmet were temporarily confiscated to search for signs of digital tampering. Brooks only found an illegal object, the tungsten, when he began stripping Elliott's Super Late Model.
There were rumors in the garage on Sunday night that Jones and his Kyle Busch Motorsports team provided Brooks a tip but the inspector said that wasn't the case during a Saturday radio segment with Derek ‘Kane' Long out of Mobile, Ala.
"I don't know where that rumor came from," Brooks told Long. "Not that it matters because once you lay it out in front of everyone, wrong is wrong."
Brooks continued on to say that the primary reason he bans tungsten is the $48/lb. difference between the precious metal and lead. He also offered that tungsten allows a team to place the weight lower on the car, providing a slight performance advantage.
At the end of the day, Brooks said there were no hard feelings towards him from the Elliotts or crew chief Ricky Turner.
"It shouldn't dampen their weekend," Brooks said. "They took responsibility for it and they'll be back."
Brooks has earned a reputation in the Southeast for being a stingy inspector, having previously disqualified three Derby winners over the past decade, including both the original first and second place finishers in 2006.
That inspection handed Clay Rogers is only victory in the race to date and established the ‘Room of Doom' as mythical place in short track racing.
In 2007, NASCAR drivers Kyle Busch and Stephen Wallace were disqualified in post-qualifying inspection after both drivers had made the field. Busch's car was found to be too low following two pass-throughs and Wallace was tossed from the Speedway after hiding sockets in his pockets to make weight.
In 2008, Busch's car -- then driven by Brian Ickler -- was disqualified after winning the Derby because Brooks found the car to have two switch-controlled fans next to the tires in the undercarriage.
In short, while Brooks is thorough, he's also known to be fair, never bending and conceding from his rulebook. And for whatever reason, despite that reputation, teams and drivers continue to push the limits in the hopes of winning the Tom Dawson Memorial trophy each year.
"It's the biggest race of the year," Brooks said. "It's what you work for all year."