Mike Rowe Declared Winner in PASS North All-Star 200
Kyle Busch Crosses Finish Line First But Is Penalized for Unapproved Tire Change
Drama; it’s what makes life interesting. It’s also what makes the racing world intriguing, whether you are a fan of the NEXTEL Cup Series or the Pro All Stars Series North. The All-Star 200 PASS North event on Saturday night at All-Star Speedway in Epping, NH, had more drama than a Steven Spielberg movie, both on and off the track.
The climatic winner of the event is last year’s PASS South champion Mike Rowe. Rowe was declared the victor after NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitor Kyle Busch was given a two-lap penalty by PASS North Officials for an unapproved tire change.
Kyle Busch climbs from his "Rowdy Busch" #51 a winner - for a little while, at least. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“We came in when Kyle thought that he had a flat. We checked the tires and we could physically hear the air coming out of the right front. There was a puncture hole in the right front,” explained Perry. “A lot of these guys (on the team) have never been in the position (with PASS) to know the whole tire deal and when you can and can’t change them. By the time we got the tires off and realized we didn’t have a hole in the other tire, just a stuck bleeder, the official had confiscated them and took them over to the PASS trailer. The bleeder doesn’t technically constitute a flat tire. I went back and tried to rectify the wrong by getting the tire, but it had already been confiscated, so there was no way of getting the tire and putting it back on.
“I have a lot of fun racing with Busch,” said Rowe, who claimed his second victory of the PASS North season. “We raced good at Oxford (last two years) and we had a good time down at South Boston last year. It’s nice to race with those guys and beat them, but when they stretch the rules and do what they do, it kind of makes us look bad. We’re the ones that should’ve been in victory lane at the track taking the pictures, but it’s just one of those deals.
“The crew did a good job for me, so that’s why this feels good. Kyle just made a mistake by putting on those tires. I didn’t think he even had a right-front going down, but he did. That’s just one of those deals, but we’re just happy to come out on top.”
Kyle Busch ran up front early before beginning to fade near the mid-point in the race. During a caution on lap 94, Busch pulled his number-51 machine into the pits with a right-front flat. The team changed both right-side tires and PASS rules state that a tire can only be changed if it is indeed flat. After examination following the race, PASS ruled the tire was not flat, and according to rule 10.19.9 – B, the Kyle Busch team received a two-lap penalty for the violation.
“That was a really exciting race for all of the fans who were at All-Star Speedway tonight, and Kyle Busch helped make it that way. He ran very well on the racetrack,” said Tom Mayberry, President and Owner of PASS. “We never want to have to make a change in the finishing order of the race because of a violation, but a rule is a rule and we will always uphold the integrity of PASS by following our rule book. Nevertheless, the fans still saw a heck of a race here tonight that they probably won’t forget for a long time to come.”
PASS North officials survey the tires that came off Kyle Busch's #51 Super Late Model during the unapproved pit stop at All-Star Speedway (51 Photos)
Penalty or no penalty, the race around the tight quarter-mile facility was among the best of the year for the PASS Super Late Model Tour. A half-dozen drivers, including Rowe, Busch, Rick Martin, Cassius Clark, Travis Benjamin and Ben Rowe waged war in a dramatic battle for the top spot that had the standing-room-only crowd on their feet for nearly the entire race. Busch, who had started fourth in the event, had crossed the finish line first at the end of the 200-lap race.
“This is the hardest-fought victory I’ve ever had in a Late Model,” said Busch before the penalty was enacted. “It was definitely a tough battle on a short track like this. This was probably even tougher than a Cup race at Martinsville. I’ve been a short track racer for a long time and I’ve run against the best of them from all over the country, and that’s why I like running with these guys, and that’s why this means so much.”
Even Mike Rowe, who some consider one of the toughest short track racers in the country, felt the battle for the win was extremely challenging.
“It’s just a shame for everybody involved,” added Perry. “It stinks for PASS to have to deal with this, for the fans and everybody that was here to witness it, because the kid (Kyle Busch) put on a show. It is what it is and those are the rules; we have to abide by those rules.”
The All-Star 200 catered to all that is so exciting about short track racing. With young guns battling with seasoned veterans throughout the field, plus the added thrill of a hard-nosed and eager NEXTEL Cup driver trying to beat them all in front of a record crowd at the New Hampshire bullring, the All-Star 200 had it all.
Officially there were 11 lead changes scored at the start-finish line, but the front runners Busch, Rowe, Travis Benjamin, Clark and Martin swapped the lead throughout the 200-
PASS North teams and fans await PASS Officials' decision on Kyle Busch's fate at Star.
lap event sometimes two or even three times a lap. Rowe appeared to have saved his tires and equipment just enough to get to the finish line first, but on lap 179 Busch made the move for the lead that Rowe was not able to counter.
“I don’t think I would’ve had him at the end of the race,” added Rowe. “He was real good at the end, but that’s probably because he had the new tires on it. I tried running him back down once he got by me, but I was just slipping and sliding; I just didn’t have it.”