“Jeff got by me earlier in the race and I got behind him to see what he was doing,” said Rowe. “I moved up and reeled him back in to pass him again. You always learn. You learn different lines every lap that you take.
“When I watched Jeff, he was late apexing. He was turning in on the second and third groove to make more of a corner of it. He would let out early and pick the throttle back up and it turns the car. I learned that from Jeff and they told me on the radio that I picked up a tenth.”
Studying his competition is something that Rowe does on a regular basis.
PASS NORTH LEFTOVERS: BEECH RIDGE PASS 400 WEEKEND by Mike Twist
Lap 11 Isn't Good to Many, Kennison Impresses, Taylor is Helpful and More
THIRD RACE IS THE CHARM FOR SANBORN
Three seems to be a pretty good number for teenaged Trevor Sanborn this season. He has three victories in the Pro Series (Super Late Models) during the weekly racing series at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and he finished as the runner-up in the PASS 300 event there this past weekend. It was only his third PASS North career start.
Sanborn made his three starts as a teammate to Ben Rowe at Richard Moody Racing. The young driver hopes to be back in the role full-time in 2007 and the Beech Ridge race could help seal that deal.
“It helps me out here with Richard Moody because he looks at this and is only going to do more to help me. That is great. I really appreciate it. I’d definitely like to be [racing a RMR car in PASS for 2007].”
TAYLOR HELPS OUT AS A DRIVER…
You would think that after three PASS North championships; there wouldn’t be a lot to teach Ben Rowe about driving a Super Late Model. But as Rowe raced wheel-to-wheel and nose-to-tail with Jeff Taylor for the lead early at Beech Ridge, he was a sponge soaking in information on getting around the track.
When the race was over, Mulkern ended up with a third-place finish. He was quick to thank Cassius Clark’s team for helping him get into the position for such a strong finish.
“I want to thank Cassius Clark’s team – Billy Clark [Cassius’ father and crew chief] especially. They’ve been helping me. I’ve only run soft maybe once or twice before now. He was down here every time that I came in from practice. They have things going good and Cassius is a hell of a driver.”
BENJAMIN BACK ON TRACK
Travis Benjamin ran as high as second in the PASS 300. His car faded a little bit late in the race, but Benjamin still finished a strong fourth.
Taylor (#88) leads and Rowe (#4) learns. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“We had a good car,” said Benjamin. “We kept blistering the right front [tire] again. We did it here and we did it in the 250. I don’t quite know what is doing it. At the 250, it was in the middle of the tire. Here, it was the inside of the tire. Maybe we had too much camber. I don’t know, if we didn’t do that we would have been better at the end. I don’t think that we would have had anything for Benji, but we were a second or third place car I believe.”
Over the past few PASS North races, Benjamin was a little off the pace. He didn’t know why at the time, but figured it out the week between Beech Ridge’s scheduled date (which was rained out) and the actual 300-lap feature.
“Man, it feels good to run up front again. The last few races we haven’t, but I’ve figured out why. We had two bent spindles, a lower A-Frame was bent and we had the wrong left front A-Frame on the car.”
The strong finish shows that Sanborn might have a bright future on the tour.
“I think that it does,” said Sanborn. “We just had bad luck at some of the other races and pitted at the wrong time and things like that. I made sure this time that I pitted right, got next to the pace car and did everything right. It turned out fine.
“[This year], we had three wins here on Saturday night. I’ve raced here for four years, so I know how to get around here.”
Trevor Sanborn's #44 (Jamie Williams Photo)
“You learn every time. Every time that I get behind somebody, I’m constantly learning. You’re never the best. There is always someone better than you. That’s what my father always told me, so what you can take in from the cars around you can make you that much of a better driver.”
The lessons paid off well for Rowe. He dominated the race and brought his #4 RMR entry to victory lane after 300 green flag laps.
…AND AS A CAR BUILDER
As helpful as Jeff Taylor was to Rowe as a driver, he was even more helpful to former Oxford Plains Speedway competitor Chris Kennison as a car builder.
Kennison, who is a newcomer to PASS North, wrecked in last weekend’s heat race at Beech Ridge and left the track with a mangled car and six days to get it fixed before the rain-delayed PASS 300 feature.
That is where Taylor’s business, Distance Racing, came in and helped out.
“We left here Saturday night pretty discouraged,” said Kennison. “The car really wasn’t very good. But all that I have to say is Distance Racing. Jeff Taylor and those guys were great. We went home and took the engine out on Sunday night. We brought the car to them on Monday morning. They put a snout on it and we got it back Tuesday night. We came here and tested. We picked up 3/10th with the new snout. It’s all about those guys. I wanted to finish well so bad just to thank those guys because there is no other chassis builder that could do that. They got it done.”
Kennison ran as high as second-place in the race and finished seventh. We’ll have more on his race later in leftovers.
MULKERN COMES BACK FOR PODIUM FINISH
Early in the PASS 300, things weren’t looking very good for Scott Mulkern. He went off course on lap 11 during a major multi-car wreck on the frontstretch. Without any damage, he trucked on.
Then a few laps later, Bobby Babb got sideways coming out of turn two and collected Mulkern, who hit the backstretch wall with his #84.
“I saw the whole thing happen and there was nothing that I could do,” said Mulkern. “I saw Bobby Babb and he went left and I knew that he was going to have to come back right to save it. I was on the brakes, but he shot right in front of me. I clipped him and got into the wall. I’ve hit the wall here a few times and thought that we were done then.”
Mulkern was wrong. He wasn’t even close to being done.
“The thing was still driving though and I guess that we just bent the right front wheel. They said that the toe looked good and the steering wheel was straight.”
Chris Kennison (51 Photo)
Mulkern got caught up in two incidents, but stayed on the lead lap all day and finished third. (Top - Norm Marx Photo, Bottom - Jamie Williams Photo)
Benjamin is mystified as to what led to the bent parts. He doesn’t remember any bumps or bangs that could have caused it.
“I don’t really know, that’s why I never checked it. But after last weekend, I tore the car down. Thank God that it did rain for us, because we needed that week to check everything. That’s why we’ve been running so bad. Hopefully now, we’ll be back up front and running like we did tonight.”
WHITTEN HAS A SHORT RETURN
In the shadows of the first victory for Richard Moody Racing’s first PASS North victory, was the guy who got the ball rolling for the team - Donnie Whitten. In 2005, Whitten finished sixth in the PASS North standings before the tool was retooled for 2006.
This year, Whitten has been absent from driving, but has been helping out Curtis Gerry’s team in weekly competition at Beech Ridge and in a limited schedule of PASS events. At the PASS 300, Gerry offered his second car for Whitten to drive. The Maine schoolteacher shook over the rust and finished a strong third in his heat race. Things looked bright for a good run in the feature.
But it wasn’t to be. Whitten was the innocent, and high-flying, victim in a lap 11 wreck that left him credited with a 29th-place finish.
“It was really disappointing. We had a really good car and I was hanging out there, trying to ride and get in line to click off some laps.
“Unfortunately, there were some guys in front of us chopping and banging 10 laps into the race and that caused a big problem. That didn’t need to happen. If you don’t have a lane, just get what you can get and don’t try to chop a guy down and cause a big wreck.”
Whitten realized how much he missed racing and hopes to be able to come back again before the end of the season.
“I miss it terribly. After the heat race, when the car was hooked up so well, I missed it a lot. It feels like home. It feels natural, but it didn’t work out so well.
“We’re talking about trying to fix it and go up to Unity. We’ve got a lot of bent up stuff and it gets expensive. With the budget that I have, I don’t know if we can do it. The body I’m not worried about, we can patch that up. The bent up shocks, sway bars and panhard bars get expensive.”
CAR OWNER GERRY HAS A ROUGH NIGHT
Curtis Gerry was the car owner for both his own entry and that of Donnie Whitten. Both cars were fast, but lightning struck in the same place twice for the Beech Ridge regular. On lap 11, Gerry’s #7 and Whitten’s #7w were both eliminated in the same wreck.
just stinks that it would happen on lap 11 of a 300 lap race. But that’s racing.”
CLARK STRUGGLES A BIT, BUT FINISHES WELL
An eighth-place finish allowed Johnny Clark to retain his point lead, but the PASS 300 wasn’t the kind of race that he would have liked to have had. A lack of practice hurt Clark’s #54 team.
“We tried something new and we only had 15 minutes of practice today,” said Clark. “We just didn’t have it. The car worked really good on cold tires, but on warmer tires it didn’t.”
That led to an either or decision on a pit stop that also set Clark back.
“We only had time for one thing or another. I was more concerned about getting the car to handle better, but now I wish that we took on new tires. If we had put tires on then, I know that we would have stayed on the lead lap. We ended up losing a lap and put on tires then.”
Now, with two races left in the season Clark leads Mike Rowe by only 10 points in the PASS North standings.
“It ought to be [a close battle],” said Clark. “He’s on his game right now and he’s picking away here and there. We have to have solid runs in these last few races, that’s for sure."
WILLIAMS TAKES A HARD HIT
When cars scattered and ended up pointed every which way after a lap 11 melee, Cassius Clark and Corey Williams were pointed in the worst direction of all – directly towards the frontstretch wall.
The two young drivers ran into that wall side-by-side. Clark broke his thumb in the wreck and was at the hospital getting patched up after the race. Williams was sore, but uninjured. He spoke to Speed51.com as his team loaded up their badly mangled #47.
“That was quite a hit,” said Williams. “It was probably the worst one that I’ve ever taken. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us now. I didn’t see anything happening. One minute I was racing along and the next, Cassius and I were headed straight towards the wall. It happened pretty quick.”
Williams had a fast car before the wreck too, which made the wreck tougher for him to swallow.
Travis Benjamin (51 Photo)
Donnie Whitten (#7w) goes up over Dave Dion's #29d. (Norm Marx Photo)
Alan Tardiff's #8t (Norm Marx Photo)
Corey Williams' #47 sits among several of its pieces in the pit area. (51 Photo)
Johnny Clark smiles before the race starts.
“The motor gave out at the end, but it was a mercy killing,” said Chubbuck. “We struggled all day. We weren’t going so good our last time here, so we put a different set-up in it. The car was loose, loose, loose. We’d go 25 laps and be allright. After that, I couldn’t even drive it. I was trying to maintain when the motor went.”
Chubbuck was right in the thick of the PASS North championship battle, but has fallen behind Johnny Clark and Mike Rowe. Now, he just hopes to maintain a top three points finish.
“Not at all,” said Chubbuck when asked what his chances of contending for the championship now are. Third’s fine. I’ll just be glad when it is over. We’re just trying for wins now.”
Chubbuck (#29) races with Travis Benjamin (#17). (Jamie Williams Photo)
It wasn’t a good situation for a multiple-car owner to be in.
“We both went out in the same caution – in the same crash!,” said Gerry. “It doesn’t make any sense either because he was in the front of the pack and I was in the back of the pack. He was eighth and I was 19th. How does that happen?
“That car [Whitten’s] was pretty good from the moment that we unloaded it because it is one that I run weekly here at Beech Ridge. This one [Gerry’s], we struggled with a first. We fought with it and did some work. When we came back this time, it was fast right out of the trailer. To have this happen is really frustrating. “Both cars were good. They were set up for the long haul and it
CHUBBUCK’S MERCY KILLING
Sunday was a bad day for Scott Chubbuck. He got bounced around in the consolation race and struggled in the feature. With a handful of laps to go, the engine in his #29 let go and dropped him to an eventual 22nd-place finish.
Curtis Gerry's #7 is buried under a stack of racecars. (Norm Marx Photo)
“This was definitely the best that this car ever felt and we were looking for a good run, but our night was cut short.”
TARDIFF JUST CAN’T CATCH A BREAK
2006 has been a frustrating year for leading rookie Alan Tardiff. Top 10 and top five runs have been the norm for him and his family-owned raceteam, but circumstances have kept the finishes from being there.
Beech Ridge was no exception. Tardiff paced Saturday morning’s practice session, but got caught in that now-infamous lap 11 wreck.
“The car was really good in practice. I was pretty happy in the beginning of the race too. I was just letting everyone sort things out. The race was 300 laps. There was no need for that.”
The wreck left Tardiff without one of his quarter panels, but his car was still quick. He worked his way back up into the top 10 and towards the top five. He fought a strong battle with eventual second-place finisher Trevor
Sanborn and it looked like the sky might be the limit for the #8t team until more trouble surfaced.
“With 111 laps to go, I could see the gauges dimming out,” said Tardiff. “The last time that happened was at the [Oxford] 250 two years ago when the alternator wire burned off. It was the same deal this time. I just babied it around the racetrack. We finished. I was doing pace laps and she was all the way to the floor, but we made it.”
Tardiff nursed his car to an 11th-place finish, but he was hoping for a much better result.
“We lost a chance at a top three race tonight. We were fastest in practice and had all that could go wrong, go wrong. That’s frustrating.”
KENNISON BREAKS THROUGH
Chris Kennison’s stock shot way up in the PASS 300. The driver of the #10 car ran second to Ben Rowe in the middle stages of the race, finished seventh and gave both himself and his team a big boost of confidence.
“The car was hooked up, we started 23rd and made it up to second,” said Kennison. “It felt like we were as good as any of them. I gave them plenty of room to race. My guys loved it. They’re pumped, I’m pumped.”
If pit strategy had worked out a little bit different for Kennison, an even better finish could have been in the cards.
“I think that we would have had a trophy if we could have changed four tires on our pit stop. We were ready to do it, but we just got boxed in with those short pit stalls. We put on two, came out in second and it just didn’t work.”
DOES COLOR MATTER?
Ben Rowe started out the season driving a black #4 for Richard Moody Racing. That didn’t work out so well. Rowe was fast, but luckless. At Oxford’s TD Banknorth 250, he was even leading when lapped cars got together and took him out of the race.
So Rowe wanted to make a change. It wasn’t to his line-up of crew members, in the engine program or with the mechanics of the car. He wanted a new paint scheme. After all, his three titles came in a bright yellow machine and black just wasn’t cutting it.
So Moody repainted the #4 in Corvette yellow livery late this summer and it seems to have paid off.
“There’s a lot of difference,” said Rowe. “Two or three people pulled in front of me before [with the black car] and told me that they never even saw me. So we’re done with that. If they tell me that they can’t see me now, I know that they are lying to me.”
Did the color change really make a difference in the team’s luck though? Maybe.
“Well, we won,” said team owner Richard Moody.
A RAINBOW OF RACECARS
So that begs the question…what is the hot color to have in PASS North racing?
Not surprisingly in frugal New England is the fact that the most cars (nine) in the PASS 300 field had white as their primary color. Second on the list was black at six. There were four blue cars and four silver cars in the race and only three yellow machines.
Orange, red and green were the least popular colors at Beech Ridge with two cars in those hues.
SCHEDULE CHANGES WORK OUT FOR BENJAMIN
Because of a number of rainouts and rescheduled events, PASS North had revised their 2006 schedule to drop a race in Quebec and add a season finale at Unity Raceway (ME).
Nobody is happier about that move than Travis Benjamin, who claims Unity as his hometrack.
“We’ve always run good at Unity,” said Benjamin. “It is our home track and it makes it easier on us to go there. That will save us at least a $1,000. It’s a place where we run well, so hopefully we’ll have something for them there. We’re on the up.”
BRACKETT GETS A CHANCE
Oxford Plains Speedway Pro Stocker T.J. Brackett isn’t quite sure what he is going to do next year as that class of racecars is phased out at his hometrack, but he is glad to have received a chance to race at Beech Ridge. When Brad Leighton could not return to Beech Ridge to drive Steve Perry’s #25 car due to a scheduling conflict with the NASCAR Busch East Series at Lime Rock, Brackett was tapped to drive the car.
“It was great,” said Brackett about the opportunity. “Steve told me Monday that if [Brad] Leighton couldn’t make it, I could drive the car. I didn’t quite believe it until we got here. I really have to thank him a lot.”
Unfortunately, the race didn’t work out so great for Brackett. Handling problems dropped him to a finish of 26th.
“We missed something. No matter what we did, we just couldn’t get it working. I don’t know what it was, but we just couldn’t make it better. I’d say that something big happened, like something bound up or a shock was bad, because it just wasn’t right.”
PLENTY OF PASS 400 WEEKEND WINNERS
Ben Rowe wasn’t the only big winner during the PASS 400 weekend. All in all, there were over 800 green flag laps of racing that took place on Saturday afternoon.
Dennis Spencer won the 100-lap PASS Outlaw race over Derek Ramstrom and Charlie Colby. [Click here for the full Speed51.com story] after early leader Corey Williams blew a shock.
Twin PASS Modified features were claimed by Chris Staples and Richie Morse.
Cole Watson topped Dan Wink and Billy Childs in the 75-lap Wildcat/Strictly Stock feature.
A 75-lap Limited Sportsman race capped off the night at Beech Ridge. The top three in that event were Dan McKeage, Don Colpritt Jr. and Chris Smith.
T.J Brackett (51 Photo)
The action was wild in several classes of racing at Beech Ridge. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Ben Rowe traded black for yellow and went to victory lane. (Norm Marx Photos)