Leftovers: PASS North at Beech Ridge and Speedway 95 by Mike Twist
All the Stories of Two Races in Two Days for PASS North Stars
DJ Shaw bested his old man at Beech Ridge. (51 Photos)
SECOND GENERATION SHAW BEATS ORGINAL MODEL
Dale Shaw has gone head-to-head with many drivers throughout the years. He’s won races in PASS North, ACT Late Models and in the NASCAR Busch East Series. He’s come within inches of a NASCAR Busch Series victory at South Boston Speedway.
But at Beech Ridge he managed to do one thing for the first time in his career. He raced against his teenage son.
Even Dale’s years of experience couldn’t top DJ on this day. The two battled each other, and tire problems, during the 150 lap race with DJ finishing 10th and Dale dropping to 26th in the final results.
“I’m really proud,” said Dale Shaw. “I drove the wheels off it, to try and hold him off. But I just couldn’t do it He did an awesome job with a converted ACT car. It was a three-day job and he came out and showed his father how to do it. I have never been so proud as when they said that it was him behind me.”
“It was pretty exciting,” said DJ. “The car was a little loose at the start and it came to me. Then I made a rookie mistake. I overdrove it for a little while there and it blistered the right front. The last 30 laps, I had nothing left. The tire was blistered pretty bad and I just couldn’t go anywhere. That last restart, I gained a couple of spots, but that was all that I had left.”
“I blistered a tire and so did he,” said Dale. “But mine was shaking for 100 laps and his was only shaking for about 30 laps. But I’m not making excuses. He did a good job today. He blew the transmission in the heat race and blew the clutch in practice, so he really got it turned around today. It was a fun race. I’ve got to get my s—t together and get my car going. I shouldn’t tell him so much I guess.
“It was my first race with my son and maybe I should quit now because he beat me his first time trying.”
Well, the elder Shaw isn’t exactly ready to quit, but he is planning to scale back his activities to help DJ run weekly at Beech Ridge this season.
“We’ll see where it goes [my racing],” said Dale. “My priority is to help him race the full season at Beech Ridge.”
Meanwhile, the significance of finishing in the top 10 for his first career PASS Super Late Model race was slow to register with DJ Shaw.
“Not yet, but I’m sure after the weekend it will,” said DJ.
DION HAS SOME FUN AT BEECH RIDGE
When Dave Dion climbed out of his familiar orange #29 after finishing fifth at Beech Ridge, he looked just as excited as if he had won the race. The New England racing icon is still competitive, and wasn’t satisfied with just a top five run, but he also knew that he got the best result out of his car that was in the cards for that day.
And most of all, he had a lot of fun.
“That was great,” said Dion with a large smile on his face. “I enjoyed it a lot. I never really conserved. I basically ran as hard as I could run and I noticed that they were coming back to me. I noticed their cars were going away. Anyone that I could see was going backwards. So if I tried to pick up the pace and speed up the process, it
would only hurt me. My car was in its zone. I told myself that I had a pretty good car and they were coming to me. I didn’t have to go to them. I couldn’t see the front couple of cars, but I knew that if the race was long enough, they would all come back to me.
“We had a good car all day. Running it hard never hurt it. Being on the outside didn’t hurt it. It just kept going and going. I told myself that this was the way that I remembered the Dion cars.”
Dion plans to run the PASS North race at White Mountain Motorsports Park on May 26th.
GREMLINS KEEP CASSIUS FROM ANOTHER WIN AT THE RIDGE
Cassius Clark battled with Joey Porciello throughout the middle stages of the race. But it wasn’t a fellow competitor that did in his chances of getting to victory lane. Instead it was a pair of mechanical gremlins that left Cassius with an eventual ninth-place finish.
“We ran the whole race on seven cylinders,” said Clark. “Then we lost the power steering at the end. It just irks me when you have a car that good and you can’t win with it. It’s nice when you have a dominant car, to get the job done. That’s what you are supposed to do.”
Dave Dion got back to having a good time in his familiar orange #29 at Beech Ridge.
Moore has had many successful moments at Beech ridge through the years and he added another one to his resume in the PASS North opener there, with a solid fourth-place finish.
“It was a good time,” said Moore. “That is a brand new racecar that they built this winter. There’s quite a learning curve with us when it comes to these cars. We ran three or four times last year and it’s really all new to me because they have changed so much since when I last ran this kind of car. So we built this new over the winter. The guys did a nice job with it. It never skipped a beat all week. We don’t have it perfect, but we have it pretty decent.”
CLARK WINS THE RACE TO THE TRACK
WHORFF PLANS TO RUN PARTIAL PASS
Jeremie Whorff was on top of the world last season when he won the TD Banknorth 250. This year though, he became a man without a country when the Pro Stocks [Super Late Models] were phased out at Oxford Plains Speedway.
So for 2007, Whorff plans to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that when he races. Jeremie will be helping out his father, Bill Whorff, Jr. run his Pro Series car weekly, while running his own #00 car on occasion with the PASS North tour.
In the Beech Ridge PASS North race, Jeremie got off to a good start for the year, finishing a close second to Joey Porciello.
“I’m taking it as it goes right now,” said Whorff of his plans for the year. “I’m going to try to run a bunch of the PASS tour races. We’ll do as many as we can and see how it goes.”
Jeremie Whorff and crew celebrate their second-place run at Beech Ridge (Norm Marx Photo)
ROWE SLIDES HIS WAY INTO THIRD
Mike Rowe made a breathtaking move on the final restart at Beech Ridge to move into third place.
“They put the lapped car up there. I guess that he wanted to get the lucky dog. So I knew that I had to do something. He went a little high coming out of turn four, so I just filled the hole down the bottom.”
Mike Rowe's #2 at Beech Ridge
Filling that hole worked out well for Rowe, but not so much for Kelly Moore – who dropped to fourth place with the exchange.
“It was good for us, but it was kind of sad for Kelly,” said Rowe. “He was there, but when the hole is there you’ve got to go for it.”
Racing with Moore brought back plenty of memories for Rowe. In the 1990’s, the two Maine drivers were regulars in the NASCAR Busch North (now Busch East) Series.
“It was kind of fun. Kelly went by me a few times and I went by him a few times. I definitely enjoy racing with him, he’s a nice guy to run with.”
JOHNNY COMES HOME A HAPPY 12th
Chris Kennison's #10 machine took a hard couple of licks (top) then sat destroyed at Beech Ridge. (Jamie Williams Photos)
The car was heavily damaged and Tardiff was bumped and bruised pretty well too. After being examined at a local hospital, last year’s Rookie of the Year was told that he could not race for several weeks. Meanwhile, the team had retreated to their shop to tear down the car while their driver was in the emergency room – just in case that the young driver got a clean bill of health.
Tardiff and his team plan to return to PASS North action in the near future. They could even be back in action within the next few weeks.
A driver who hoped to follow in Tardiff’s footsteps this season by chasing the Rookie of the Year award was Chris Kennison. The former Oxford Plains Speedway regular had a brand new car and the expertise of Brian Burgess on his side. However, a heat race wreck left that car extremely heavily damaged – possibly destroyed. Kennison skipped towing to Speedway 95 and the wreck altered his plans for the season, but that could prove to be a good thing in the long run.
Kennison has now joined forces with Richard Moody Racing to drive a second entry as a teammate to Ben Rowe. Burgess makes the move as his crew chief and the team will contest a limited schedule of PASS North aces this season to maintain their rookie eligibility for 2008.
“I’m pretty pumped up about racing for Richard Moody Racing,” said Kennison. “We wrecked our brand-new car at Beech Ridge and were going to build a new car to run in its place. Then they approached us and we worked out a deal to run a second RMR car. Brian is coming over to the team to be my crew chief and it’s going to be a lot less stressful than being an owner-driver. It’s a win-win situation.”
Kennison will return to the PASS North Series in the May 26th event at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Finishing 12th usually isn’t a good result, especially for the defending champion of a series. But Johnny Clark was satisfied with that result at Beech Ridge.
“Even though we finished 12th at Beech Ridge, we were happy with the progress that we made. We just needed about a 10-minute intermission. We had a top five car. We made a pit stop on lap 50 and made it a lot better, we just needed a few more pit stops to bunch the field back together. We ended up 12th, but we were pretty happy with the progress that we made.”
TARDIFF AND KENNISON HAVE BIG BIG-RACE PROBLEMS AT BEECH RIDGE
Two teams that prepared to run the entire PASS North schedule saw those plans change before the start of the race at Beech Ridge.
Alan Tardiff had entered the season with a new number and a new paint scheme. He was hoping for some new luck too, but that turned bad in Friday’s practice session. Tardiff had something break or lock up in the rear end of his #88 car and he hit the backstretch wall hard.
ROWE’S TEAM WORKS HARD AFTER PRACTICE WRECKS
Mike Rowe had the worst time of any driver in practice at Speedway 95. A brake problem left him off the track twice before the heat races even started,. The first trip into the tire barrier resulted in some minor sheet metal damage. The second trip was much worst. Rowe hit the wall nose-first and ripped off the front section of his racecar. Spindles, suspension parts and more had to be replaced.
The team did not have a back-up car at the track, so they just got down to work. With a little help from fellow competitors, Rowe made the starting bell for the race and ran as high as third before getting involved in a last lap altercation with Bill Penfold…we’ll have more on that later on.
“They sure did work hard today,” said Rowe. “We had the brake hanging up on the front and that caused the wrecks. We got that fixed. Everyone in the pits came over and offered to help us. Man, it was awesome to see that.”
Rowe’s problems weren’t over when the feature race started though.
“We went through the first two cautions without power steering. I came in and they fixed that. Then we were going to the front. The team made that happen. The were just awesome today.”
Rowe and his team were able to bring the car home in the 11th spot.
Eventually, after Cassius Clark’s disqualification [click here for more], Johnny Clark won the PASS North race at Speedway 95. Before that though, he also won another race – the one to get to the track first on Sunday after Saturday’s event at Beech Ridge.
“We got here at 10pm last night,” said Clark on the morning of the race. “We figured that after the checkered flag flew at Beech Ridge, there would be a race to get up to Bangor and lined up at the pit gate. We had already planned to do all of our maintenance at the track. We brought our scales and our scale stands, so we were ready. We changed a few springs before practice at Bangor and we were all set.”
The victory wasn’t a flawless one though.
“I really wasn’t thinking because I didn’t bring any clothes. I had to wear yesterday’s clothes this morning. I drove straight here, got to be the first one in line and went to a hotel. I got up at 6am to come out here and I know that anyone who didn’t come here last night had to get up a lot earlier than I did.”
RAMSTROM HAS AN UNHAPPY HEAT RACE
The heat races of the PASS North doubleheader weekend weren’t kind to young Derek Ramstrom. The 16-year-old racer got caught up in two different incidents not of his doing at Beech Ridge, and then got run into the back of after trying to avoid the spinning car of Scott Chubbuck in the Speedway 95 heat.
After Rowe took a trip into the tire barrier (top), his crew began patching together a new front end on the #2 (bottom)
MOORE FINISHES WELL, CLOSE TO HOME
Kelly Moore’s race shop and his family’s business, RC Moore Trucking, is located just a few miles from the pit gates at Beech Ridge. The winningest driver in NASCAR Busch North/Busch East Series competition is also a native of Scarborough, Maine (the town where the track is located) and he cut his racing teeth at Beech Ridge.
Ramstrom didn’t expect to be finishing near the top five, so quickly, but knowing that he can do gives him an extra boost of confidence.
“It really does,” said Ramstrom. “I just can’t wait until the future when I can get a win. We’re a little bit ahead of schedule. Last year, we thought that we would start out slow since it was our first year in a Pro Stock. We did well in the Outlaw class, winning a race and the championship. So we upped it and moved to the Super Late Models. We thought that we could be around the top 10.”
“Yesterday at Beech Ridge, the heat race went pretty bad,” said Ramstrom. “I drew a bad number and just had bad luck. I got trapped in the wrong hole and wrecked the car. Today we had more bad luck – a guy spun in front of us, we slowed to avoid it and got rear ended. There’s nothing that you can do about it. I never really liked heat races because they are rush, rush…and I’m more of a patient driver. I don’t succeed at heat races very well, but you have to do them.”
RAMSTROM HAS A HAPPY FEATURE RACE
He might hate heat races, but Ramstrom came out of the Speedway 95 feature looking pretty racy. The rookie driver kept his nose clean all day and finished a strong sixth.
“We usually have bad luck in the heat races and that puts us to starting further in the back, but I like starting back there. I’m a patient driver and I like to take my time. So by lap 100, I start moving up. That worked out well in this race.”
CHUBBUCK TEAMS UP WITH MULKERN
Scott Chubbuck made his first start of the 2007 season at Speedway 95. He drove the #15 entry owned by fellow racer Scott Mulkern with True Value Modified Racing Series competitor Tony Ricci serving as crew chief.
Chubbuck finished seventh at Speedway 95.
NEW CAR EQUALS PODIUM FINISH FOR BENJAMIN
Travis Benjamin rolled out a brand new car at Speedway 95 and was rewarded with what turned out to be a third-place finish. His car was a little bit less than perfect too.
Travis Benjamin rolled out a brand new car at Speedway 95 and was rewarded with what turned out to be a third-place finish. His car was a little bit less than perfect too.
“The last two days, we have been really fast in practice and we’ve been making good 10-15 lap quick runs, but once we start racing it tightens up. We ended up fourth I think [Benjamin improved a position when apparent winner Cassius Clark was disqualified.], we probably should have been third but this racing back to the yellow stuff…Benji [Rowe] ended up passing me going back to the caution. They gave it to him and I was kind of upset about that. Hopefully it will be vice versa someday. “
Overall, the weekend was a success.
“We brought two cars home in one piece. Beech Ridge was kind of discouraging. But this is a brand new car and the other car has a brand new front end, so we have some learning to do. To be two races into the season, be fast in the practices and to finish in the top five today with a brand new car is good. We’ll take it.”
Now Benjamin is off to a track that is very familiar to him – New Brunswick International Speedway.
“We’re going to Fredricton [New Brunswick International Speedway] and I hope that we are really good there. We’re going with the same setup as last year. I think it will work maybe even a little better with this car if we make a few adjustments.”
ROLLERCOASTER WEEKEND FOR PORCIELLO
Saturday’s victory at Beech Ridge for Joey Porciello turned out to be the highlight of his weekend by far. On Sunday at Speedway 95, Porciello and Johnny Clark got together on the backstretch during their heat race. Porciello hit the wall hard and heavily damaged his #04 car.
Porciello made the start of the feature, but with a badly wounded car. He was missing most of his nose on the way to an eventual 17th-place finish.
DEARBORN NABS A FOURTH
Richie Dearborn was very happy to leave Speedway 95 near Bangor, Maine with a solid fourth place finish.
“Overall it was a good day for us at Bangor,” said Dearborn. “It isn’t one of my best tracks. We just try to come here, stay out of trouble and finish on the lead lap. We did that today.
PENFOLD AND ROWE RUMBLE
On the last lap, the racing for the third position turned out to be a little too close for Mike Rowe and Bill Penfold. The two made contact, with Penfold sliding back two spots and Rowe dropping to an 11th-place finish.
The facts were that the front of Penfold’s pink #0 hit the rear of Rowe’s #2 ride. How did that happen? There are two sides to that story.
“He ran me off the backstretch,” Said Penfold. “I stayed outside of him and got a run on him. He tried to take my spot and that turned him.”
“I tried to get to the outside and I guess Billy didn’t like it, so he just turned me going into turn three,” said Rowe. “Who knows? It was one of those racing deals I guess.”
Ramstrom (#35) had a tough heat at Speedway 95, but then got back on track in the feature.