”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Ok, so this is no Charles Dickens novel. This is just a PASS South Super Late Model race. But just as Dickens wrote in his famous novel “The Tale of Two Cities,” Tuesday night’s Firecracker 150 at Tri-County Motor Speedway could have had the same premise, but instead of the “Tale of Two Cities,” it was rather “The Tale of Two Races.”
The first portion of the race was all about Wade Day. The most-recent PASS South winner, Day qualified second and won the Dash, putting him on the pole for the 150-lap main event. From his pole spot, Day jumped out to a HUGE lead, sometimes leading by as much as a straightaway. In the process, he was putting cars laps down left and right.
“I was just cruising,” said Day. “They (the crew) were saying ‘10 car lengths, 12 car lengths, a straightaway, back off.’ I was telling them I wasn’t even going that fast. And when I would try to let off, I was all inconsistent and sideways and every which way.”
However, on lap 51, the first of two cautions came out. With Mike Rowe starting on the outside, Day got the
Mike Rowe won Tuesday night's Firecracker 150 at Tri-County Motor Speedway. (51 Photos)
jump and kept the lead. Then, on lap 56, another caution bunched the field and made for another set of double-file restarts.
This time, Rowe got the jump and officially took the lead on lap 57. From there, it was a race all about Mike Rowe. Rowe led the rest of the way, pulling out to an equally-commanding lead as Day had earlier in the event.
For Rowe, it was the “best of times.” For Day and the rest of the competitors, it was “the worst of times.”
“He was real quick early,” said Rowe of Day. “I didn’t even know if I was going to run him down. I couldn’t catch him. He was just too quick. Then, we had that restart and he said that he didn’t see the flagman when he dropped the green. That was the turning point for me. I got ahead of him then and went.”
“This car has just one speed and that is the speed it goes. He said he started getting loose in and I believe him. He started slowing down after he was catching me there for a while. He reeled me in once and I thought he was going to get me; then I got back away from him. It was a good race.”
The lack of any other cautions from lap 57 on meant for easy pickings for Rowe.
“That is a good race. That is what I like. The longer the greens with this car, the better we are.”
Day had nothing for Rowe late. He couldn’t match his speed from earlier.
“I was being easy I thought early,” added Day. “Maybe I did hurt the right rear (tire) a little bit. The car was just too loose entering. That was my problem late in the race. We fought that today during practice, but I thought the track would tighten up tonight. It didn’t and stayed loose.
“On the restart, when the flagman threw the green, it was right in the A-Post. I couldn’t see it at all. That is why Mike got such a good jump. After that, it was all over. At the beginning of that run, it seemed like we were the same. He wasn’t pulling away. I wasn’t catching him. The longer I went, the looser and looser it got. The car just went away after that.
“I really wanted to win, but I guess that is not a bad way for these last two races to end, especially after this car has frustrated us so much in the past.”
With the final 93 laps run under green, the field got rather strung out. The best battle for the fans ended up being the battle for the final podium spot.
Series hotshot Ryan Lawler held that spot for much of the night. However, late in the race, he put on a spirited challenge with friend Dean Clattenburg for several laps. It was something good for the fans to watch after the domination put on by Rowe and Day.
The two drivers banged doors nearly every time entering turns three and four lap after lap. Clattenburg was trying to get the position and Lawler was holding on, which is how they would finish as well.
“We need a win. This runner up and third place stuff is getting old,” said Lawler. “Our car wouldn’t turn worth a crap. Early on, the car wasn’t too bad. The car was just tight as can be. We seemed to do everything we could.
“As far as that late race battle with Dean; he’s my buddy.
He works over at Hamke’s with me. He is (Robert) Hamke’s right-hand man. It was good hard racing. After the race, he gave me a thumbs up. There is no conflict there. It was a lot of fun.”
Tri-County Motor Speedway - Hudson, NC
1. Mike Rowe
2. Wade Day
3. Ryan Lawler
4. Dean Clattenburg
5. Kevin Love
6. Chris Dunn
7. Charlie Bradberry
8. Lee Tissot
9. Tom McCann Jr.
10. Brian Scott
11. Matt Brooks
12. Tab Boyd
13. Dennis Schoenfield
14. Larry Pollard
15. Preston Peltier
16. Wes Burton
17. Rob Stevens
DNS Ted Musgrave Jr.
Rowe (#24) races to the outside of Ryan Lawler (#31), who finished third.
Wade Day (left) talks with winner Rowe (right) after the race.