“At Oxford, they just killed us,” said Ben Rowe. “Seven of the top 10 cars had two-barrels.”
“With the rules that they’ve got, we just can’t do it,” said Ben’s father Mike, who won five races in 2005 but has been shut out of the top five in both 2006 events.
PASS made a few minor adjustments to the formula before Speedway 95 and promises to announce a few more changes next Monday, well before the next scheduled event at Canaan (on May 27th).
“They’ve got to do something,” said Scott Chubbuck who finished third at Oxford with a two-barrel set-up and
PASS NORTH ABUZZ ABOUT ENGINE AND WEIGHT RULES by MikeTwist
Clark Sweeps Both '06 Races, Adjustments Are Planned
There’s an old adage that the sport of motor racing got started at the same time that the second automobile was built. It’s also a pretty good bet that about 10 minutes after that first contest was finished, the guy who finished second started saying that the winner had an unfair advantage.
The idea was that by leveling the playing field, there would be more crate, spec and lower cost engines. However, what it also brought it the mix were some powerplants especially built within the rules that, although less powerful than the traditional four-barrel mills, are a lot stronger than what was intended. Add weight breaks and that makes for a pretty potent combination.
“I’m not quite sure what’s going on,” said defending PASS champion Ben Rowe. “At the beginning of the year, they talked about two barrels and we always had that two-barrel option. It’s kind of gone haywire now. They are 150 pounds less than we are and can have two percent more left side weight. That’s huge.”
That advantage has shown up in the finishing order.
Ben Rowe (L), Cassius Clark (C) and Clark's car owner Ed Champman (R) discuss the engine rules in the pits at Speedway 95. They haven't been alone.
Complaining about rules packages has become a sport of its own through the years. Cup teams grumble that the nose design on their make of car is holding them back. Street Stock guys complain that the Camaro in the next pit has it all over the Monte Carlo in their own pit. It’s a fact of racing at any level.
That doesn’t mean that sometimes those gripes aren’t justified. That is what many Super Late Model competitors in PASS North are saying after Cassius Clark has won the first two races of the season in convincing fashion.
In question is a well-meant PASS rule designed to make the series more cost effective and friendly to weekly Pro Stock racers at tracks all over New England who would like to do a few touring events here and there. The rule sets up a second engine package option for teams and gives a weight break and additional allowed left side weight to an entry that utilizes a two-barrel intake manifold, stock 500cfm carburetor, limited compression ratios and a few other items.
Cassius Clark's car has been on a diet this year because of what is under the hood. It's worked too. Clark has swept both PASS North races in 2006. (51 Photos)
horsepower is tricky. A combination that kicks tail at Oxford, could be out to lunch at tracks like Canaan or Thompson. Hitting a moving target like that makes coming up with an equal formula difficult at best and impossible at worst.
“Obviously Oxford is not a big horsepower track. It never has been. You go to Canaan or here [Speedway 95] and it is different. The fastest two cars here in practice were four barrels. I think that I had the only two barrel in the top five. They are tracks where you use a lot more throttle.”
“There aren’t many tracks that we go to that need a ton of power,” said Travis Benjamin, who runs a four barrel set-up. “You need to handle and that 58% left side is going to make you handle a lot better than what we are.”
The #29 of Scott Chubbuck has had a two-barrel and a four-barrel under its hood in 2006. It finished in the top five with each combination.
second at Speedway 95 with a four-barrel mill. “I don’t know if jumping right in after Oxford was the best thing to do. I don’t know that they had to do anything right then, but they would have to sooner or later. If it ain’t fair, it ain’t fair. They’ll have to bring it back the other way.”
“They’ll bring them back,” said Ben Rowe. “Because if they don’t and those cars continue to dominate, that will just force us to go back and build two-barrel engines. That’s not what they want. That’s not what we want.”
The two-barrel contingent is afraid of a knee-jerk reaction.
“I think that it’s kind of early to start making adjustments,” said Clark. “We’ve won races, but it’s not like we ran like junk at those places last year [Clark visited victory lane in 2005 at both Oxford and Speedway 95 under the old rules]. We were actually running faster times at the end of the Oxford race last year than we were this year. They kind of jumped on it kind of quickly in my opinion.
“They should have waited four races or so. You’ve got guys who are building new motors and if they start changing the rules, you’ll have a bunch of guys spending their money for nothing.”
Four races might be too long though according to some competitors.
“One race isn’t much to go on but when seven of the top 10 are two-barrel cars, they kind of had to do something,” said Ben Rowe.
The tricky part of adjusting the rules in taking into account the mix of tracks that PASS visits. Balancing handling and
All of the power in the world can’t beat a better handling car at some venues.
“We don’t have enough for some of these tracks that we go to that we can keep up,” said Benjamin. “Especially places like Oxford or Beech Ridge. It won’t so up as much at a place like Canaan or here [Speedway 95]. Some tracks that we go to, you do need some power and we’ll keep up. But if we go back to Oxford for the 250 and the rules are the same, we won’t keep up.”
Ideas on how to address the problem are all over the pit area.
“My honest opinion is that if they are doing this to get more cars than they should make the top 10 or 20 in
Travis Benjamin knows that even the best engine is no match for a good handling racecar at most of the tracks where PASS races.
PASS points not be able to run the two barrel option,” said Ben Rowe.
“That will put us at a disadvantage at some tracks, but it will get those outside cars into the series. You won’t get guys like Cassius, us or my father to build two-barrel engines. It will force us to run four barrels and still bring cars in. Give them the 100 pounds and the two percent. If that will get people here and racing, then we can work with them. If they get into the top 15 or 20 in points, then they can run our option. That would be the easiest thing for me.”
“They are trying stuff each week and they did take off 50 pounds [already], but 50 pounds is nothing,” said Benjamin. “We need more left side or they need to take something away from the other guys. I don’t mind 58% and 2,800 [pounds]. That’s what we were at down in Hickory [in PASS South] and it worked. That’s what I feel that they need.”
And do two barrels even have a place in Super Late Model racing?
“They have a separate tour for the two barrels, so if you want to run a two barrel, you can go race with them,” said Ben Rowe referring to the PASS Outlaw Late Model tour. “That’s how I feel.”
One thing is for certain. PASS is going to make adjustments. If those adjustments, don’t work, they’ll make more. This is definitely a work in progress.
“This still isn’t set in stone,” said PASS Technical Director Paul Johnson in the Speedway 95 driver’s meeting. “We are trying to maintain competition. We can and will make adjustments. We want the cars equal and at the same time we are trying to open up other options to boost the car counts.”
“I’m not complaining,” said Ben Rowe. “I just want to know what the rules are going to be. I know what Paul is up against. I understand what he is trying to do and we’ve talked one on one. They’re working on it. There are six or eight guys who have built two-barrel motors.
“He’s in a predicament now where if they do bring back to rules to favor the four barrels, he’s going to make those guys really upset. I don’t want that job. Paul and those guys can have it. I like my job. I’ll just sit back and try to figure a way to weasel around the rules that they do make.”
And as racers, the bottom line is that some guys will do whatever it takes to win.
“I just want to know what the rules will be,” said Ben Rowe. “We have a new car coming and we’re up in the air about what we need to do with it.”
“They make the rules, we just follow them,” said car owner Jay Cushman, who is in business selling Ford speed parts and has a shop full of them.
“Oh yeah, we’ll be okay whatever they do,” said Cushman’s driver Chubbuck. “Jay’s got enough parts laying around [to build anything].”
This story is far from over. Stayed tuned to Speed51.com to see what happens next on the rules front.
The tech line has been an interesting place this year in PASS North.