As the Busch North Series transitions into Busch East, Penfold won’t be there. Instead, he has shifted his focus to PASS North and after Speedway 95, sits 10th in the standings with his #0 team.
Penfold really feels at home with PASS.
“It’s laid back and relaxing,” said Penfold. “It’s not ball-busting. That’s what’s good about this. The venues that you go to are great and it’s more family oriented. Not everyone is all worried about the big dollars. Everybody is running about the same budget. Some guys are spending more, but you can be competitive with no budget. That’s what makes this series really good.”
As far as his Busch East plans goes, Penfold doesn’t see much a future for his team there.
“I’ve got it all for sale except the road course car. I’ll keep that and have that for me to run sometime. I have a real good time with that. I can’t afford to run Busch and they didn’t take care of me.”
PASS NORTH LEFTOVERS: SPEEDWAY 95 by Mike Twist
Dearborn, Worster, Benjamin, Tardiff, Williams, The Moody Teammates and More
DEARBORN WELCOMES NEW TEAM MEMBER
It really didn’t matter if Richie Dearborn left Speedway 95 finishing first or last. The driver of the #33 was still leaving with a smile on his face.
With race car drivers getting younger and younger all the time, Speed51.com asked Dearborn is he might already have a kart on order for his new daughter.
“Not yet,” Dearborn laughed. “We’ve got a few years until then.”
Miranda’s arrival also brought better luck for the #33 team. Dearborn finished fifth at Speedway 95.
PENFOLD FINDS NEW HOME IN PASS
Since 1995, Bill Penfold has been a fixture in the NASCAR Busch North Series. He has been loved by some, not-so-loved by others, but always has had time to talk to anyone who stops by his trailer and has never been shy about speaking his mind.
Penfold also didn’t mince words when it came to why he was making the change in tours.
“What NASCAR did to the series forced me to quit,” said Penfold. “They can’t come out with a schedule. You can’t go to a sponsor get any sponsorship without a schedule. They want me to run down South when I’m from Maine. I can’t afford the fuel to go down on what they pay out. Granted, they have a great point fund. But with everything else they are doing, they are ruining the series – changing the cars, not having a schedule. It’s a shame. I’ve got cars, motors, everything. It’s a turn key operation and it’s for sale. It’s all because NASCAR didn’t look out for the little guy. They are worried about the big dollar guy. Well fine. They can have their eight or nine big dollar guys and the little guys will go away because we won’t support them either.”
CHUBBUCK DODGES A FEW BULLETS
Scott Chubbuck finished second at Speedway 95, but it was far from an easy race weekend for him or his Jay Cushman-owned #29 team.
Some guys keep photos of their children in their wallets. Richie Dearborn keeps one next to his shifter. (51 Photo)
First, the team had an engine problem in Saturday’s practice session. That problem was solved with a drive down I-95 back to their Southern Maine shop and a late night of work.
“We came here and practiced our two-barrel motor,” said Chubbuck. “We developed a problem at about five o’clock. We decided to go change it, so we drove two hours back to Gray (ME). We spent five hours changing motors and set-ups and got back here this morning.”
Two-barrel….four-barrel….it didn’t matter. Chubbuck was still fast enough to lead laps and run in the top three all
It also goes back to the previous race weekend. Dearborn raced at Oxford, got a flat tire, had a frustrating race and finished 12th. After the race, he headed home to his pregnant wife Jenn and things got much busier than they were all day at the track.
“Once we got home, I got about an hour of sleep when she woke me up because she was having contractions,” said Dearborn. “They were about five minutes part. So I got up and took a shower. When I got out of the shower, they were only three minutes apart, so I said that we’d better get going.”
“We got to the hospital about five in the morning and at 7:30 that night we had her.”
“Her” is the newest addition to the Dearborn family, Miranda Jean.
“Miranda was six pounds and 13 ounces,” said Dearborn. “She’s doing well and her mother is doing well. That’s all that you can ask for.”
Billy Penfold by his #0 ride. (51 Photo)
Finishing well at Oxford and Speedway 95 has been a big change from last season, where Benjamin saw plenty of bad luck at both facilities. He’s hoping for more of the same in the next race at Canaan.
“These are tracks where we didn’t run well at last year,” said Benjamin. “Our best finish at Oxford was like a 25th and the best one here was 13th. We didn’t struggle, but we didn’t finish well. At Canaan, we didn’t finish well, but we were running up front, so hopefully we can finish well there and maybe even go down south.”
One common theme to all three 2006 races (which includes the PASS South Easter Bunny 150) has been that Benjamin has started poorly. At Hickory, he was quick but had problems with a brand new ignition box. At Oxford, he got tagged by another car in his heat race and at Speedway 95, he just finished pretty far back in his heat race. Still, Benjamin has overcome all of that.
“It’s been especially good considering where we’ve been starting. We started 17th today and in all three races, we made it to the top five. In two of those, we finished there.”
Benjamin is now hoping that the hard work that he and his team have put in over the past few seasons will now pay off.
“This team is great,” said Benjamin. “Everyone works so hard and the last few years, we haven’t gotten the results that we should have. We’ve been running up front and just not finishing. This year, hopefully, I’ll get lucky and finish these races in the top five. I’d be very happy with that and the guys get excited about it.
Travis Benjamin. (51 Photo)
day long at Speedway 95. However, at one point his crew went running from the pit stands to their trailer. It looked like trouble might be brewing, but Chubbuck stayed out to finish second – crisis averted.
“The front end started bottoming out,” said Chubbuck. “The car got tight and I thought that there might have been a tire going down or something. It’s not like they did anything this weekend, so I might as well have gotten them out of their seats.”
He might have scared his crew, but coming in until he had to really wasn’t an option for Chubbuck.
“You just have to drive it until you find out what it is. You never know.”
WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR CASSIUS?
Cassius Clark has won the first two races of the PASS North Season in pretty convincing fashion. He’s also got some bad news for the competition when it comes to the next event on the schedule at Canaan Fair Speedway on May 28th.
“We go pretty well at Canaan too, so I’m looking forward to that race,” said Clark.
ANOTHER GOOD FINISH FOR BENJAMIN
Travis Benjamin is getting the 2006 season started in style. After two PASS North races, he has two top-five finishes and sits third in points.
Benjamin finished fourth at Speedway 95 after starting deep in the field.
“We’re happy with that,” said Benjamin. “One of these days, we are going to start out front and see what we can do from there. Right now, we’re starting in the back of the pack and using our car up. This place is tough to pass. You just have to play the game and ride, ride, ride. Hopefully, you get in the outside groove there and do what you can.
“We were hoping for one more restart at the end with maybe 10 to go. We weren’t going to touch Cassius, but we might have been able to get a few spots.”
BEN ROWE HAPPY WITH PROGRESS OF NEW TEAM
The debut of the retooled Richard Moody Racing team didn’t go according to plan at Oxford. Both Ben Rowe and Travis Khiel were victims of wrecks with their #4 and #44 RMR cars at the season opener.
At Speedway 95, the story was different. Both teams put together their wrecked cars and without the insurance of a back-up, both drivers finished in the top 10.
Rowe ended up third and although he knows that there is still work to be done, he is happy with the progress that is being made.
“The guys did a good job putting it back together after Oxford,” said Rowe. “We’ve got some work to do. We’re just not quite there yet. But both cars were in the top five at one point, so we’ll be all right.”
Speed51.com followed up with the Tardiff team after they got home from Bangor and their engine did indeed check out okay.
KHIEL HAPPY WITH 95, PLANS FULL SCHEDULE
We documented the day of Richard Moody Racing driver Ben Rowe above. His teammate, Travis Khiel had a decent day as well. Khiel ran strong all day long at Speedway 95 and finished 10th.
“We started off pretty good,” said Khiel. “The car was pretty good and we got up to fifth. We hung around there for a little while and then I don’t know what happened. The car kind of got away from us. But we got out of here in one piece. I’m happy with that. I would have liked to have had a better finish, but I’m also just happy to finish a race.”
“We were starting to come into it and the oil temp was around 300 degrees,” said Tardiff. “The water was upwards of 240. We were going to stay out and hope that it was going to cool off. But she didn’t cool off. I think that the gauge panel caught on fire. The cabin filled up with smoke, so we had to pull her in and take a DNF. It’s just frustrating to be this early in the season and to already have a DNF.”
Still, Tardiff was hopeful for the next race on the schedule.
“We’re going to take the motor out and have it checked out at the engine builder,” said Tardiff. “Then, hopefully we’ll be ready to go for Canaan.”
TARDIFF TAKES EARLY EXIT AT 95
Rookie Alan Tardiff was running in the top 10 at Speedway 95 before he pulled into the pits just before 50 laps were on the board. He ended up being the first car out of the race with a finish of 22nd.
Khiel is looking forward to the future of both his team and that of his friend and teammate. Khiel and Rowe worked together in 2005 on Rowe’s championship winning #00 team [Khiel was the tire specialist].
“We worked well last year and we’re pretty good friends now. I knew that there would be no question if that would work and it did. We’re going to have better runs in the future. We were quick all day long in practice. I think that we’ll definitely have some good races this year.”
That future has even more races in it than Khiel expected. When he joined RMR, Khiel was planning for a partial schedule of racing in 2006. Now, he plans to be able to run the full schedule.
“It sounds like we’re going to do it now,” said Khiel. “The only reason that we weren’t going to before was the deal that Rick [Moody] had worked out with SP2 Motorsports [who the RMR team was originally planning to team up with in 2006]. Since that has separated, we plan on running the full schedule now.”
SMITH BOUNCES BACK AFTER OXFORD WRECK
Gary Smith had to be very pleased with his seventh place finish. It might not sound like cause for celebration, but after the week that his #75 team had it was perfect.
“We just pretty much held on for the finish,” said Smith. “It was a good day, we came through it with a whole car. That makes it nice.”
Smith crashed hard in the PASS North opener at Oxford. He was uninjured, but the same could not be said for the car that he was racing. Ironically, Smith had borrowed his son’s Speedway 95 Pro Stock for the race when his own engine wasn’t quite ready yet. That set up a scenario that wasn’t very desirable with only a week between the two races.
“This car had its motor lying on the floor when we got back Monday morning,” said Smith. “We had a wrecked racecar on the trailer and a motor on the floor, so that was tough. We worked some late nights. Three nights this week, we were working until Midnight and the other nights, we were working until nine or ten. It was a hard week. Then we worked on it all day Saturday [practicing] to get it to go.”
Smith did have an exciting moment at Speedway 95. He was one of several drivers who spun in some gear oil on the backstretch. In the driver’s meeting, teams were told that they would not lose a lap as the caution came out if they were making progress in a forward direction and those words stayed with Smith. After spinning, he dropped his car in gear and drag raced the leader, Cassius Clark, in an effort to stay on the lead lap. He succeeded.
“That’s what I was thinking,” said Smith of the briefing in the driver’s meeting. “I was trying to get back out to get Cassius to slow down a little bit. He just barely got by me, but they said as long as I was going in the right direction, I’d be okay. They told me on the radio that there was gear oil on the backstretch, but my radio wasn’t working too well. I didn’t hear them.”
WILLIAMS HAS UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN AND SMOKY DAY
The 150 laps of racing at Speedway 95 had just about everything that Corey Williams could imagine. The young driver ran towards the front, then dropped back with smoke appearing from his #47 car, then he made it towards the front again, then fell back again. Eventually, he ended up finishing 11th.
“We definitely had an up and down day. We were up in the top five for awhile and I messed up as a driver and got a little high out of the groove. I nearly lost it. I just got a little bit out of the groove. This track is so touchy that if you get in the loose dirt, you’re going to going for a ride. Towards the end, we started to come back through, but it was too late. We would have had a top three if I didn’t screw up there.”
The smoke came from under the hood of Williams’ machine.
“We were smoking all day long,” said Williams. “We were trying to fix an oil leak up in the motor. I think that we had a valve cover gasket leaking.
“We definitely needed a long run for this car. It seemed that the longer we went, the better it was. But, we’re happy to have the car in one piece and we’ll take it home to see where the oil leak is coming from. We were happy with the car. It was definitely competitive, so we’ll bring it back and hopefully be up front.”
NOT ALL WRECKS HAPPEN AT THE TRACK
The #29 Cushman Engineering team had a wreck while in Bangor for the 150-lap PASS race, but it didn’t involved their Ford Taurus racecar. It involved the vehicle of team owner Jay Cushman’s mother, who lives in town.
“I went 150 laps and a didn’t even put a mark on the car and Jay went to the store and destroyed his mother’s car,” said team driver Scott Chubbuck.
Cushman overheard Chubbuck telling tales and at first denied the story...sort of.
“That’s a rumor,” said Cushman. “There are no witnesses that I wrecked it.”
When pushed, Cushman admitted his smash-up and he also couldn’t resist a jab at his driver.
“Yeah I did it,” said Cushman. “Scott isn’t the only one on this team who can wreck.”
CLARK PUZZLED WITH BAD SHOWING
Johnny Clark was good in practice, but never got up to speed in his heat race or the feature at Speedway 95. He’s not sure why either.
“I’m sitting here scratching my head because we were so quick in practice yesterday,” said Clark after the race. “Then we drew dead last and couldn’t pass anyone in the heat race, so we started dead last in the feature. We put it on the scales and did some work. But we couldn’t figure out anything there. We made some changes, but they weren’t the right ones.”
Clark had mixed emotions after the race.
LOCAL HOTSHOE HAS TOUGH RACE
Erik Worster had high hopes for his home-track race at Speedway 95, but problems with his #11 ride made his day much shorter than he would have liked.
“It started off good,” said Worster. “The car was fast and probably the best feeling car that I’ve ever had. We ended up loosing a piece off the bottom of the spring that holds it in. That’s how we started the race. Then we lost oil pressure and just decided to park it.”
Worster is not sure yet of his complete 2006 PASS North plans.
“I don’t know yet,” said Worster. “Our plan was to try and run all of them, but I ended up blowing my motor the first time we practiced. I’ve got someone else’s engine in there now, so we’ll see. I would like to make some more and some of the other tracks.”
NOT MUCH TO SAY ABOUT ROWE
Mike Rowe didn’t have much to say after finishing sixth
at Speedway 95. He was just happy to have finished the
“That was about it…survival,” said Rowe. “We had a
decent car, but nothing for Cassius. It’s one of those
“I like racing this place, but I hate it at the same time. I enjoy coming here, but you have to be really patient. There was just no passing today. Usually, we can run a little better on the bottom. It’s usually a little bit better down there than it was today.“
Racing in the tight quarters of the Speedway 95 was partially to blame for that.
“Most everyone did a pretty good job of giving and taking,” said Clark. “But some guys used me pretty hard getting in line. I don’t want to get to the point of having to run someone up the track to get up in front of them and that happened to me a couple of times.”
“Track position is everything. I didn’t want to come in and drop back. We could have pitted when there weren’t very many cars out there, but I didn’t even want to lose five or six spots because it was so hard to even pass the slow cars. You used your stuff up so bad on the bottom.”
Chubbuck's #29 Ford. (Norm Marx Photo)
Bne Rowe (L) talks with Speed51.com's Mike Twist (R) before the race. (Norm Marx Photo)
Alan Tardiff gets ready to get up on the wheel. (51 Photo)
The Richard Moody Racing #44 of Khiel. (Norm Marx Photo)
Williams' #47 car. (Norm Marx Photo)
Johnny Clark (Norm Marx Photo)
Clark's #54 at the tail end of the starting grid. That is not a usual place to find it. (Norm Marx Photo)