Travis Khiel started out the season as the driver of the #44 Richard Moody Racing ride and the personable young driver had some good runs, with a strong second at Oxford in July topping his season. Khiel was gone from the car Beech Ridge however. A team source said that the parting was amicable.
Beech Ridge standout Trevor Sanborn drove the #44 this week and will be back in the car in two weeks for the PASS 400 weekend at Beech Ridge. Plans for the #44 in this year’s other PASS North races are up in the air though.
PASS NORTH LEFTOVERS: BEECH RIDGE by Mike Twist
A Line-Up Change, Dion Talks About Super Late Models, Rowe Discusses Engine Rules & More
BEN CATCHES UP
Earlier this season, Ben Rowe was in awe of Cassius Clark. He told Speed51.com back in the spring that Cassius would be fast in anything, even a John Deere tractor, but that the #8 team he is with was especially hard to beat.
“You can’t take anything away from him. We were on top of our game a few years ago and he was chasing us. Now we’re chasing him. I have no problem running second to him right now. We need to work on our stuff a little bit more and we’ll get back on top.”
One thing that Rowe probably won’t be able to do to get on top is pysch Clark out. That might have worked in the past, as Rowe is well known for getting into other driver’s heads just like the late Dale Earnhardt did, but it’s not working in 2006.
“You used to be able to, but this year he’s just so much better than that now,” said Rowe. “Two years ago, you could kind of freak Cassius Clark out but not anymore. He’s good. There’s no question and I’ll be the first to say it. He’s got a good team. He’s got guys who are good and have been together.”
out a car that hadn’t been raced in 10 years earlier this summer and competed in the PASS North race at Oxford, as well as the TD Banknorth 250 there. He also showed up at Beech Ridge.
Dion was very racy too. He led early, had the handling go away on his #29, got spun and finished 16th.
“We had trouble with the front all day,” said Dion. “We came here to see if any problems surfaced before the 300. The car was good right off, but the front got tight and we never did get it cured. We learned what we needed to learn.
“I was so slow in the middle of the tunr that when I got punted, it was no big deal. I was stopping to keep the front end planted. The guy hit me, but that was okay. It’s hard when the car keeps slowing down more and more in the middle like that. I didn’t blame him for hitting me.”
The Moody #44. (Norm Marx Photo)
Well, that as long as the crate motor had a blue oval on its valve cover.
“I’d never buy a Chevrolet. I’m like [car owner] Jay Cushman. I’d run a Ford crate motor to help their program, but I wouldn’t sell out to Chevrolet. To me that ruins everything that racing is about. It’s not about a bunch of cars going around. It’s about personalities and differences and a rivalry between makes. It’s bad enough that they took the tire rivalry away several years ago. But you have to have Chevrolet vs. Ford. You need to argue over that. If they put Chevy motors in everything, to me that’s the end.”
Rowe knows how Clark feels. After all, the three-time champion has had his run of being untouchable in New England Super Late Model racing.
But now Rowe is catching right up to Clark’s bumper. The two were the class of the field at Beech Ridge. If not for some bad luck, Rowe and his Richard Moody #4 team could have already won PASS North races at Thompson and White Mountain, as well as the Oxford 250, this year.
“I can see Cassius now,” said Rowe. “We’re on the same straightaway. That’s what we have to chase. He’s the best in the series right now and we just have to beat him. We’re almost there. We beat him for half of the race today. He was just more consistent.
Ben Rowe (#4) was right with the elusive Cassius Clark (#8) at Beech Ridge. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“We’ll run the 300 and I think that we might go to the South Boston race (the Mason-Dixon Meltdown) too,” said Sanborn. “We’ll see.”
…WHILE SANBORN SLIDES IN
The Beech Ridge race was Sanborn’s first PASS North start and the teenager had a great time. He made contact with Cassius Clark and spun in the middle stages of the race and finished 19th.
“The car just wore out,” said Sanborn. “We got a big push and just couldn’t stay with the leaders. That happens. We came home in one piece and I’m happy with that.”
As far as racing with the touring stars went, Sanborn had a blast.
“It was pretty fun today, I know that.”
DION FINDS A HOME IN PASS?
In his time off from a limited NASCAR Busch East Series schedule, Dave Dion has been casting an eye towards Super Late Model racing. His Dion Brothers team rolled
Cassius Clark talks with his father Billy. (51 Photo)
Dion's #29. (Norm Marx Photo)
CHUBBUCK HAS ROUGH RACE
Scott Chubbuck had a long day at Beech Ridge. He started back in the eighth row and tried to work his way to the front. But flat tires and getting spun didn’t help that cause. Chubbuck ended up finishing 20th and losing the PASS North point lead.
PASS fans might be seeing a lot more of Dion in the future as well.
“I like these cars, I like the officials and I like Tom Mayberry. I really don’t like what happened at the [Oxford] 250. I’m not in favor of that at all.. I don’t know what their business reasons were, but I doubt very much that I’ll support the 250 even if there was a winning ride for me. I’ll probably go with Mayberry and do what I can to help his deal.”
That’s not to say that Dion will follow the tour blindly either. He know sthat there are a few things with PASS that need attention. Through the years, Dion has spoke his mind about what he feels is best for the sport. He done that in ACT and NASCAR racing and he’s not afraid to do that with PASS either.
“They need to get the engine and the weight issues squared away. They can’t keep giving the crate engines everything in the world. If you want to let people run crate engines for the financial reasons, I think that you should have them. But I don’t think that they should have a disadvantage or an advantage. They need to work hard. If you choose to go with a crate engine, that’s a good decision but you can’t be guaranteed success with it. You should only be guaranteed a level playing field. If you can do that with a crate motor, I’m totally in favor of it. If I blew up all my good stuff, I’d probably buy one.”
“I don’t know if the right front was going down from the get-go, but it had a hole in it,” said Chubbuck. “We maintained our own until we got to racing with the #9 car (driven by Bub Bilodeau). If he had just let me go, we would have been good but he wanted to race me hard for 14th position 75 laps into the race. We got together and around I went and a lap down I go.
“I wasn’t thinking about points, I was just thinking about racing to the end. When a guy has you by that much, let him go. Holy Christ, let him finish the race. But some of these guys don’t want to give an inch ever.”
JOHNNY CLARK GAINS POINT LEAD
What Scott Chubbuck lost, Johnny Clark found. After finishing fourth, Clark took over the point lead for the first time in 2006.
But don’t think that Clark has an easy ride ahead of him if he wants to win his second PASS North title. He knows it is going to be a close race with Chubbuck and Mike Rowe for the championship.
“I’m definitely looking forward to battling it out with those guys,” said Clark. “Scott’s a class act and so is Mike. It looks like it’s a three-car race now. There’s five races left, that’s way too much time to worry about it. We’re just going to go out and chase top fives and see what happens. We’ll let the points play out.”
DID ANYONE ORDER A PIZZA?
With technical inspection lasting well into the evening, the #24 team of Mike Rowe had the right idea. While they were tearing down their car, they ordered a pizza.
A Domino’s Pizza delivery driver drove into the pit area at Beech Ridge and had to be told which hauler to drop dinner off at for the hungry crew.
“We had the two-barrel motor today and I really think the 58% [left side weight] cars are good and you really have to go that route,” said Rowe. “I’ll talk to the guys, but I think that we should put that in and run that [when we come back for the PASS 300].
"If the race had stayed green today, I don’t think that I would have beat that crate motor [in Johnny Clark’s car] . That’s my opinion and I could be wrong. They just change the rules so much that it sucks to keep up, but what can you do?”
WHITE HOLDS HIS OWN AGAINST TOUR TEAMS
Speedway 95 regular Paul White came down to race with
the PASS North teams at Beech Ridge and most of them looked at his rear end for much of the race. White ran in the top five for much of the event, but was one of several lead laps cars to get tangled up when Ben Rowe and Cassius Clark locked horns with just a few laps to go. White faded to a seventh-place finish, but was still happy with the result.
“Until that last wreck in turn one [Our day was really good], that’s when everyone got by us. We were sitting fourth before that. We were really happy about that. It feels pretty good. It means quite a bit to race against the Rowes and the Clarks like that.”
White will be back at Beech Ridge in two weeks when the PASS 300 takes place.
“Last year we came down for the 300 and ran well. We’ll definitely be back this year.”
WILLIAMS USES PATIENCE, FINISHES SIXTH
Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe finished first and second at Beech Ridge, but it was another Rowe and Clark that fought tooth and nail on the last lap. Mike Rowe nipped Johnny Clark at the end for third.
“Johnny was there,” said Mike Rowe. “I just had enough to get outside of him coming up to the line.”
“We didn’t need all of those restarts at the end,” said Johnny Clark, who ran third for most of the second half of the race. “We thought that we had third and the lapped traffic was hard. If we didn’t get stoved up, I think that we would have definitely had third. Two lapped cars went around and I had nowhere to go but up and over them. That’s what I did. I just feel lucky that after that we still ended up fourth.”
Dion (#29) gets to race with some of his old runnign buddies - Mike Rowe (#24) and Kelly Moore (#47k). (Jamie Williams Photo)
Chubbuck tangles with Bub Bilodeau's #9. (Norm Marx Photo)
Johnny Clark's #54 (Norm Marx Photo)
Rowe (#24) and Clark (#54) battle to the finish. (Norm Marx Photo)
White slides off track to avoid late race trouble. (Norm Marx Photo)
Corey Williams (#47) goes three-wide at Beech ridge. (Jamie Williams Photo)
ROWE SCRATCHES HIS HEAD ABOUT ENGINES
There are several different engine rules in PASS North right now. There are crate engines, two-barrel engines and four-barrels. There are dry sump motors and wet sumps. All fo the combinations get different weight breaks and left side weight percentages. It’s caused quite an uproar this year and Mike Rowe is frustrated, and confused, when it comes to what works best.
CASSIUS WINS ONE AT A SPECIAL PLACE
Cassius Clark started his racing career by running a Legends car at Beech Ridge and returning to victory lane there for the first time in a Super Late Model was something that he was very proud of.
“I wanted that one pretty bad,” said Clark. “We raced here with the Legends cars for a few years and I actually started out racing here. We had a lot of wins [with that team] and I wanted this one pretty bad. We were able to pull through.
“What it took was patience today,” said Williams. “I thought that we might have a little bit better outcome, but the lapped cars had an effect on where we finished. Sixth place wasn’t too bad though. We’re happy with that.”
The young driver also learned a few things to be able to use when the PASS 300 comes around in two weeks.
“We learned that weather is a big factor here. Our car changed three different times within 150 laps. We’re going to take that into consideration that next time that we race here.”
ROWES AND CLARKS – DOWN TO THE WIRE
The Rowe family - Mike in the #24 and Ben in the #4. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Patience was the word of the day for sixth-place finisher Corey Williams.