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Eugenio feeling cheated

January 09, 2009|By MARIO RENTERIA, Sports Editor

El Centro’s Steven Eugenio was going into the Bud Light Dash in the MDR Productions’ Superstition Series looking for a class win.

The off-road racer was looking for a three-peat championship in class 1600.

Instead, he finished the year feeling cheated.

Eugenio won the race but was penalized twice for what MDR officials are calling “unsafe actions” in two separate locations of the race.

An MDR official, who requested not to be named, said Eugenio passed another vehicle at a checkpoint zone and finished parallel with another vehicle at the start/finish checkpoint.

The official said vehicles cannot pass each other at checkpoint zones to avoid a collision in areas populated by officials and, more importantly, spectators.

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“Officially, he was not penalized for cutting the course. There was nothing wrong with his driving in the race,” the official said. “It was just a safety issue that he was penalized for.”

Eugenio, however, thinks one of those penalties was unjust.

Eugenio said the rule book states you cannot pass a vehicle 500 feet prior to the checkpoint. He said he was about 1,000 feet from the checkpoint.

Both penalties caused him to officially finish eighth. To add insult to injury, Eugenio wasn’t happy with the way officials handed out the penalties.

He wasn’t told until four hours later he said, after he had celebrated what he thought was a win.

“They didn’t have the courage to tell me. They said they didn’t want to penalize me at the finish line to not cause a commotion,” Eugenio said.

He also said he was not allowed to appeal the penalties. Eugenio said he should have the right to appeal the decision in front of the CRV board, but he wasn’t given the chance.

Because of the way things ended for Eugenio, he said he will never race MDR again and will focus on Best in the Desert and the new DRIVE Series with co-driver Kyle Conlon.

“It’s a shame it ended that way, but it happens,” Eugenio said. “I just want to thank my friends and family for the year and all the people that helped out … sponsors and friends.”

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