Dassow Hopes to Cinch ASA Title at Five Flag's "USA Digital 200"
ASA Challenge Series To Wrap Up Season At Historic Track
Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida has been short track racing’s home for champions for more than 40 years. As the home of the prestigious Snowball Derby, Five Flags has hosted and crowned champions from all types of Late Model racing in the most distinguished events in the short track world, including the Derby and its companion event, the Snowflake 100.
On Saturday, September 29th, a new victor will receive the laurels of a title when the ASA Late Model Challenge Series crowns its new champion at Five Flags Speedway in the series’ final event of the 2007 season. At the end of the “USA Digital 200,” a new champion of the ASALM Challenge Series will hoist the prestigious championship trophy over their head at Five Flags Speedway, a place that is no stranger to champions.
“We’re looking forward to having the ASA Challenge Series here at Five Flags and we’re honored to have them crown a new champion here as well,” said Tim Bryant, promoter of Five Flags Speedway. “We had the ASA Late Models’ Southern Division here last year and it was a great race, so we’re expecting even more great racing with the Challenge Series.”
Travis Dassow holds a comfortable margin in the ASA Late Model points standings, a 93-point advantage over Colt James going into the “USA Digital 200.” Dassow will be making his first-ever Five Flags appearance, but with relative inexperience at the track, he is looking forward to going there to hopefully wrap up the title with the assistance of a crew that is no stranger to the tough Five Flags half-mile.
Dassow’s Crew Chief, Howie Lettow, has worked with such drivers as Jimmie Johnson, Kenny Wallace, Tony Raines and David Stremme, and is quite familiar with Five Flags Speedway from his numerous trips to Pensacola including when the ASA National Tour raced at Five Flags as far back as 1997. With Lettow and the rest of TD Racing’s experience, Dassow heads into the “USA Digital 200” hoping for just the right amount of success to clinch the team’s third-straight ASA Late Model Challenge Series championship.
“It’s definitely going to be a big help, having all that experience there with me,” said Dassow. “Howie knows a lot going into the race, what the place is going to be like and what it does. I’ve been able to pick up on a racetrack pretty quick and I can figure out how to get around it. It’s going to be a big help to have a setup under me that should be pretty close right away. It should be a quick learning curve for me. Having a crew that has been there a lot should definitely be a big help.”
“Since our Pro Late Model race last Friday night, I’ve had no less than five guys call me and ask about running the ASA race, so there could be a pretty heavy local contingent there as well,” said Bryant. “I do believe that Johanna Long is a definite. She had a good run last Friday night, finishing second. Her dad, Donald Long (a Florida Super Late Model veteran himself), sees in the ASA Late Model Series, a lot of drivers following the same path that he sees for her.”
The tire difference could mean that the championship chase in the final event could be a closer one than expected, as Dassow is going to have his work cut out for him with the different tire.
The ASA Late Models Southern Division raced at Pensacola last season, where local regular and current Blizzard Series points leader Scott Carlson took the checkers.
“We’ve kind of struggled on the bias-ply tires this year,” added Dassow. “We’ve been doing a lot of testing in the last couple weeks trying to learn them just a little bit better. I think we’ve definitely gotten a lot better. It helps that it’s one of Howie’s favorite racetracks too. So I’m looking forward to going down there. Hopefully we can go out there and stay out of trouble and lock up the championship. We’ll just try to race smart to clinch up that championship.”
The “USA Digital 200” will conclude the 2007 ASA Late Model Challenge Series schedule. There will be an optional practice on Friday, September 28th with ASALM practice rotating with local divisions from noon until 9pm. On Saturday, qualifying will begin at 5pm, with an on-track autograph session to follow at 6:15. The green flag for the “USA Digital 200” will fly at approximately 8:45pm.
Joining the ASA Late Model Challenge Series will be the Five Flags weekly divisions, the Sportsman class, the Super Stocks and the Modifieds.
For more information on Five Flags Speedway, the Blizzard Series and the 40th Annual Snowball Derby event, contact Matt Kentfield at (704) 788-2134 x 5 and visit www.fiveflagsspeedway.com and www.snowballderby.com
Travis Dassow will be all smiles at Five Flags if he's able to win the ASA Challenge Series championship. (51 photo)
Dassow is a winner, as proven by his two Challenge Series victories on the year, but he heads into Five Flags fully knowing that a title is on the line and can be won or lost in every turn.
“I think we have to finish top-20 or something like that to lock it up,” said Dassow. “Depending on how many cars are there, we will either be smart and patient or we can go the entire race trying to win the thing. The more cars that are there, the smarter we have to be about what we do and we’ll have to try not to make any mistakes. We’re doing a lot more maintenance on these cars going into the last race so that we don’t have any simple failures that we can’t have if we want this championship.”
The ASA Late Model Challenge Series is the premier division of the three ASALM series that tour around the country. The Challenge Series is also the only one that regularly competes on a radial tire. At Five Flags on September 29th, however, the Challenge Series teams will be competing on a bias-ply tire to level out the playing field and also to encourage some of the local Pro Late Model teams to try their hand at the rest of the field that will include drivers from all over the country.
Colt James had a couple of wins this season and needs to win again at Pensacola to have a shot at the title.