“That was fun,” said Khiel.  “I haven’t had a chance to do that a whole lot and it was nice to run up front like that.”

Not the next step is to win and Khiel knows that his Richard Moody Racing team, which is only four races old in its current format, is ready to do that.

“We’re definitely ready,” said Khiel.  “We had a good car here in the spring and got taken out early.  We’ve had some problems in the other two races, but we’re ready.  They’ve stepped up the plate with this team.”
PASS NORTH LEFTOVERS: OXFORD by Mike Twist
PASS North Regulars, Busch North Champs, a "Mystery" Racer and More
A FAMILAR ORANGE CAR

It’s been a long time since New England racing fans have seen an orange #29 Pro Stock fielded by the Dion Brothers of New Hampshire.  But that is exactly what was at Oxford for the recent Saturday night PASS show there.  Dave Dion drove the family car to a 22nd-place finish and will be back for the TD Banknorth 250 there later this month.
CAREER NIGHT FOR KHIEL

Travis Khiel looked like he might break through at his hometrack of Oxford for his first career PASS North victory.  Patrick Laperle passed him late in the race and took the victory, but Khiel’s second place finish at the track where he came up through the ranks was still a career best run.
Johnny Clark’s #54 team was not one of those teams.  They were had at work under their racecar.  It was worth it at the end of the night however when Clark came home with a sixth-place finish.

“We broke an axle in the heat race,” said Clark.  “But, I’ve got the hardest working bunch of guys here and they turned things around.”

Clark was lining up for his heat race when he #54 snapped around.  He retreated to the pits and had to settle for a starting spot in the back for the feature.
Khiel's #44.  (Norm Marx Photo)
“The distributor shaft broke I guess,” said Clark.  “It just shut off.”

Now that his streak is over, Clark is disappointed, but philosophical about it.

“It had to come to an end someday.  We’ll just go to Thompson and start another one that’s all.  I’m ready.”

ANOTHER CLARK TAKES THE LONG WAY TO SIXTH

As the local divisions ran their feature events at Oxford, most teams joked a little bit, ate a little bit and had a good time.
“That’s the plan,” said Dion.  “We haven’t run our own car in the 250 in eight years.  We built this car for ACT in 1996 and ran two ACT races and the 250.  We’ve had it parked outside ever since.”

In typical Dion Brothers fashion, the team rebuilt their old car rather than to build (or God forbid buy) a new one.  After all, this is the same team that won the NASCAR Busch North Series race at Oxford last season with a car that was 15 years old.

“We decided, why buy someone else’s car when we’ve got one sitting here?,” said Dion.  “They’ve been working steady on this for two months now.  It’s not quite done, but good enough to test anyways.”
Dave Dion in his orange  #29 Ford.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
CASSIUS KNOCKED OUT EARLY

Entering Oxford, Cassius Clark had gone three-for-three in PASS North competition this season.  A fourth straight victory was not in the cards for the young Maine driver though.  On lap 78, Clark pulled into the pits with a wounded racecar and was forced to settle for the 29th finishing position.
“The track was wet, the Pro Stocks were out there for the first time and our tires were cold.  You’re sitting there and trying not to be that guy who spins out on the warm up laps when the track is damp.  I thought that I was that guy, but it turned out that we broke an axle.

“It was too bad that it happened because if we didn’t have to start 30th tonight, we would have had a better run.  We just used our stuff up so bad to get to the front.  I tried not to, but you just had to run so hard to get through lapped traffic.”

The race at Oxford taught Clark and his team new things that they will no doubt be able to use for the TD Banknorth 250 later this month.  Clark’s team will field a second car for Ricky Craven in that event.
Cassius Clark talks with his father Billy.  (51 Photo)
The Oxford race was delayed by rained and did not start until around 10pm.  That extra time was appreciated by Johnny Clark's #54 team as they worked up until racetime on their car.  (51 Photo)
“Man, I feel really lucky to have come here and run tonight,” said Clark.  “I think that we hit on something that will help us at all of the track that we go to.  We’ve got a little more work to do to the front end and then we are going to have two cars up front for the 250.”

LEIGHTON FINDS A PART-TIME HOME IN PASS

Add Brad Leighton as a new name to the PASS roster.  The two-time NASCAR Busch North Series is driving in a limited schedule of races for SP2 Motorsports in the #25 car as a teammate to Mike Rowe.  Longtime sponsor Irving Oil is backing the team and in addition to Oxford, they team will race at Beech Ridge and in the Irving Oil 250 open show at New Brunswick International Speedway on Labor Day weekend.
Their first race out was a challenging one.  Problems surfaced in practice, that the team worked hard to fix.  They got it squared away in the nick of time and Leighton was able to record a 17th-place finish.

“The guys worked their butts off all day,” said Leighton.  “We had a skip [in the engine] and they changed everything.  They finally got it before the race, but we didn’t have a lot of time to practice the car…maybe seven laps…so we’re just happy it ran well.

“I think that we probably had a top 10, but we got spun around early.  The tires got used up getting back up there.  But that’s racing.  We’ll get them next time.”
Leighton is always waiting patiently for his next race in the car.

“This is a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to a better finish the next time out.”

ROWE HAS NEW CAR BLUES

Ben Rowe dropped out of the race early.  It was a disappointing end to a long day where his Richard Moody Racing team debuted a new car.  But fuel supply problems and getting caught in a wreck on the track took their toll on Rowe.

“We just finished this at three o’clock and wanted to run this car to get it ready for the 250.  This is a different car than what [teammate] Travis [Khiel] runs.  We struggled all day, but got it decent at the beginning of the race.  Then they wrecked in front of me and I got into that.

“The damage from that was minimal.  The water temp got up to 230, but that’s all.  It just wouldn’t run.  We had a fuel problem or something.  Every time that I went to give it throttle, there was nothing there.  It was kind of weird.  It’s a brand new motor and I didn’t want to do anything to it, so I brought it in.”

Rowe was credited with the 34th and final finishing position.

TARDIFF FALLS JUST A HAIR SHORT OF A TOP 10 FINISH

There were some really good racecars at Oxford.  The mix of PASS North regulars, Oxford hotshoes and teams looking to get a head start on the TD Banknorth 250 later this month meant that logging a top 10 finish would be quite an accomplishment.



PASS rookie Alan Tardiff came close to doing just that.  The former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway regular ended up 11th after 150 laps.

“We’d been struggling all night,” said Tardiff.  “We started out a little tight and loose in.  About 50 laps in, the car got neutral and we started to pick up spots.  Then the car would go away a little bit.  We couldn’t come in to pit [and lose track position], so we just stayed out there and made the best of it.”

In every race leading up to Oxford this season, Tardiff had
run solidly in the top 10 before bad luck put a damper on his races.  So he wasn’t disappointed at all with where he finished at Oxford.

“We had a lot of trouble at the beginning of the year, so we’re pretty happy with 11th.  We finished the race, the car is in one piece and we made some spots up late in the race.”
BUSCH NORTH OR PASS NORTH?

The PASS North race had Oxford has the feel of a race in the series formerly known as NASCAR Busch North.

First of all, Oxford was a track where up to six Busch North races per year had taken place in the past.  However, the tour does not visit the track in 2006.

Then there were the faces.  Three former Busch North champions – Brad Leighton, Kelly Moore and Dave Dion were in the PASS North event.  It was the same number of active Busch North champions in the Thompson Busch East Series race at Thompson two nights before.  In that event, Dion was joined by Mike Olsen and Jamie Aube.

Other former Busch North regulars in the field at Oxford were Mike Rowe, Ben Rowe, Travis Benjamin and Billy Penfold.

MULKERN’S BACK AND HE FINISHES FOURTH

Scott Mulkern started out the 2006 season racing down south.  He competed in Speedfest at Lakeland, in an CRA Super Series event at Nashville and in two North Carolina
PASS South shows at Hickory and Southern National Speedway.  The past month or so, he’s been mostly idle though.

Mulkern returned to action at Oxford and finished fourth.  He did so with the benefit of a new crate motor, which went into his #84 car just a few days before the race, and without the benefit of power steering, which he lost late in the event.
“I sat on the top of the pit cart and had a headset on for Trav over those last 60 laps,” said Rowe.  “It was fun.  I enjoyed it.  I told them that I’m going to retire now.  Those guys did a hell of a job with his deal and I was just trying to calm him down late in the race.  I know what he was going through and knew what he wanted.” 

“I didn’t really know that Ben was out of the race until he came on the radio and started giving me a few tips,” said Khiel.  “He kept coming on then and I didn’t even bother asking why he was out of the race.  I was just so focused.

“He took over with about 20 laps to go and spotted for the rest of the race.  I valued his tips.  He knows how to run up front a lot and he’s won a lot of races here.  It was good to have him doing what he could to help me out.”
PODIUM FINISH FOR CHUBBUCK MEANS POINT LEAD

Scott Chubbuck and his #29 Cushman Engineering team finished a strong third at Oxford.  Driver and crew were satisfied with that.

“That wasn’t bad at all,” said Chubbuck. “We started off loose and finished loose.  Every race this year, we gotten tighter as the race went on.  So we decided to start loose tonight and it would come around, but it stayed exactly the same way all race long.  We’ll just have to go back just a little bit and hopefully that will be better.
With their finish, Chubbuck took over the PASS North point lead.  Since this barnstorming team races where the big shows are and doesn’t follow a schedule of points chasing, they could care less about that.

“Not at all,” was Chubbuck’s reply when asked how much the point lead meant to his team.  “I’d have rather won the race tonight.”

But Chubbuck is enjoying the team’s string of strong finishes in the first four PASS North events of the year.

“It makes it a whole lot better to start up front and run up front.  It’s easier on equipment and the car has been running good.”
WHO WAS THAT RACER?

Former PASS North champion Johnny Clark had a strong battle with another competitor at Oxford.  He just didn’t know who it was.
What a difference a year makes.  Benjamin isn’t sure why his car isn’t going like it did last season, but he’s not going to rest until he figures it out.

“It was a long day,” said Benjamin.  “I don’t know what is wrong with this thing, but it’s not driving like it used to.  We’ll go through it and make sure that everything is all right.  I’m going to strip the car and find out because this car drove so good last year.  Right now, I have the exact same set-up in it and the only place where it has driven well has been Bangor.”
The problem could be because of a weight formula used to try an equalize competition between two-barrel and four-barrel engines.

“I’m still running the four-barrel deal and everyone else seems to be switching over to a two-barrel, so maybe I’ll have to join that group.”

But Benjamin isn’t hanging his head.  He is ready to go to the next few races.

“We’re excited to go to Thompson and the next few tracks.  Oxford has never been a good track of mine, except for last year.  This year we’re back to fighting the car here.”  




Brad Leighton and his SP2 team at Oxford.  (51 Photo)
Alan Tardiff got send for a ride late in the race, but still finished 11th.  (Norm Marx Photo)
Dave Dion (L) and Kelly Moore (R) catch up on old times.  (51 Photo)
Clark (#54) races with the mysterous #7 of Curtis Gerry.  (Norm Marx Photo)
Ben Rowe dons a headset and spots for his teammate at Oxford.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Scott Chubbuck  (51 Photo)
Benjamin's #17 was caught up in a late, multiple-car pile-up.  (Norm Marx Photo)
Mulkern has a few more races on his schedule and then he’ll decide what other events to add to that.

“I didn’t want to run the [TD Banknorth] 250 and not run a PASS race here first,” said Mulkern.  “I’m going to go to Thompson and then come back here for the 250.  Besides that I don’t know what I’m going to do.” 

BEN ROWE: FROM DRIVER TO SPOTTER

When Ben Rowe dropped out of the race early, he didn’t know what to do.  He wasn’t keen on just being an observer, so he hopped right into the role of being an extra spotter for young teammate Travis Khiel, who finished second.
PASS South shows at Hickory and Southern National Speedway.  The past month or so, he’s been mostly idle though.

Mulkern returned to action at Oxford and finished fourth.  He did so with the benefit of a new crate motor, which went into his #84 car just a few days before the race, and without the benefit of power steering, which he lost late in the event.

“That was fun,” said Mulkern.  “I wasn’t too sure that I was having fun until I started the race, but that is the way that it is for me.  I get burned out.”
the time he makes his next PASS North, a lot more eyes will be on Gerry and his #7 team.

TIGHT CAR MEANS A SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH FOR ROWE

Mike Rowe finished seventh at Oxford with a car that handled a little bit less than ideally.

“We were just tight all night,” said Rowe.  “We salvaged a seventh-place finish and that’s not too bad.”

Rowe ran a two-barrel engine at Oxford and took advantage of a weight break offered to cars running that powerplant.

“It looks like the crate motor might be the way to go.  [Scott] kern just came flying up on the outside.  I don’t know.  A two-barrel won the race, a two-barrel was second I guess and a crate motor was third.  We ran a two-barrel, but we just missed the set-up a little bit.  We rode around and salvaged what we could get.”

BENJAMIN SCRATCHES HIS HEAD OVER CAR

Travis Benjamin finished 25th after having a night where he had two flat tires and dropped out of the event late in the running.  Last year at the TD Banknorth 250, he had one of the fastest cars on the track, and possibly the best handling machine in the outside groove, before dropping out with an engine fire. 
I had a torrid battle with the #7 car there,” said an impressed Clark.  “I’m not even sure who he is.  But he drove the wheels off it and whoever was in that car did one hell of a job tonight.  I raced him really hard and got up on the outside for too long.”

The #7 belonged to Beech Ridge regular Curtis Gerry who finished ninth.

Speed51.com tried to catch up with the masked racer, but honestly we just couldn’t find where he trailer was parked after the race.  There’s no doubt though that by
Scott Mulkern was all smiles at Oxford.  (51 Photo)