Joey Porciello Holds Off Some Very Accomplished Company To Win PASS North Opener At Beech Ridge
Rookie Comes Out On Top After A Dogfight Through Lapped Traffic
When it came to the top finishers in Saturday’s Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Model season-opening race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine, there were some heavy hitters represented.
Kelly Moore (Right) and Dave Dion (In Car) congratulate each other on their top five finishes. Neither champion had enough on Saturday to beat a pair of talented rookies at Beech Ridge.
“It’s great because you always hear about Mike [Rowe], Benji [Rowe], Stan Meserve, Dave Dion and the best of the best,” said Whorff. “When you can run with them and even pass them or finish ahead of them, it’s an honor. It really is.”
It also gives a driver an extra boost to get through the rest of the season.
“This builds my confidence right here,” said Porciello. “Now, we’ll see what happens next.”
There was plenty of other action at Beech Ridge in addition to the 150-lap PASS North Super Late Model race. Earlier in the afternoon, Scott Mulkern won the 100-lap PASS Outlaw Late Model event after taking the lead from former track regular Mike Fowler on a very special lap to the race winner.
“We had a good race,” said Mulkern. “The car was good. I just wanted to ride behind Mike for a while and see how things played out. Then I had enough to get by him on lap 37. I think that was the same lap I took the lead in the only PASS [Super Late Model] race I ever won, too.”
The performance was far from a fluke, though. Porciello fought long and hard through various stages of the race to win it. The Lee, New Hampshire, driver first took the top spot with a bold outside move on three-time PASS champion Ben Rowe on lap 37 of the race.
Then Porciello fought through lapped traffic with Cassius Clark. The two drivers would alternate between racing grooves; they would swap the lead, and they would dance around the lapped cars. A few times, the two leaders would even split a lapped car or two with one going high and one low. The action was breathtaking and fun to watch. It might not have been too fun behind the wheel, though.
“It was hard, especially when I was on the outside and was getting blocked in with the lapped cars,” said Porciello. “I would get set on the outside and have to catch back up to Cassius again. I wasn’t too happy about that at the time, but once we got cleared of traffic, I could reel him back in and take the lead back over.”
Once Porciello settled into the lead for good, Clark dropped off the pace with a power steering problem. He did not contend for the lead again and finished ninth.
But now there was a new threat to Porciello’s lead. Jeremie Whorff was closing fast as the laps clicked down.
“Towards the end I was catching him, but we had a late caution, and after that my car was pushing,” said Whorff. “Joey had a little bit of a better car than me on the restart, so congratulations to him. Next time, we’ll try to get it done at the end.”
You might think that in the final laps, a rookie like Porciello would be sweating bullets. Instead, he was cool and calm behind the wheel, knowing that the clock was ticking down when it came to Whorff catching him.
“I wasn’t too worried,” said Porciello. “I knew that he was coming up on me, but there was not enough time for him to catch me and pass me.”
Behind Porciello and Whorff [who won the Oxford 250 as a track regular, but is now a rookie in a touring series] were a trio of racing legends –Rowe, Moore and Dion in that order. Topping the masters like that was a major accomplishment for both young drivers.
Joey Porciello in victory lane at Beech Ridge (51 Photos)
Among the top-five finishers, there were two NASCAR Busch North Series champions and three Oxford 250 winners. One man, fifth-place finisher Dave Dion, even accomplished both feats.
Joey Porciello doesn’t own any touring championships yet. Before Saturday’s race at Beech Ridge, his only touring series victory came in a PASS Outlaw Late Model race last fall at Star Speedway (NH). Porciello has not been a household name among race fans in the Northeast, but that is all on the fast track to changing. Porciello held off Jeremie Whorff, Mike Rowe, Kelly Moore, Dave Dion and a stocked field of other top drivers to start off his rookie season in PASS North with a big victory.
Even after the victory lane celebrations and technical inspection process, Porciello was nearly speechless about his victory.
“I can’t believe this,” said Porciello. “To win my first PASS race…it’s just awesome. I don’t know, this is so weird. I still can’t believe that this happened.”
Finishing behind Mulkern were Jay Sands, Jimmy Rosenfield, Brian Whitney and Fowler.
In the 40-lap PASS Modified feature, Kenny Harrison benefited when Chris Staples spun out of the lead with five laps to go. Harrison went on to win the race over Tom Oliver and Chris Smith.
The PASS North Super Late Models return to action on Saturday, May 12th, at New Brunswick International Speedway near Fredericton, New Brunswick. It will be the first of four Canadian appearances for the Super Late Model tour in 2007.
The PASS Modifieds and Outlaw Late Models will next race on Sunday, May 20th, at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, New Hampshire.
PASS North Super Late Models
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway
May 5, 2007
1. Joey Porciello
2. Jeremie Whorff
3. Mike Rowe
4. Kelly Moore
5. Dave Dion
6. Ben Rowe
7. Richie Dearborn
8. Mark Patten
9. Cassius Clark
10. DJ Shaw
11. Steve Berry
12. Johnny Clark
13. Curtis Gerry
14. Bill Whorff, Jr.
15. Gary Smith
16. Trevor Sanborn
17. Kirk Thibeau
18. Bill Penfold
19. Travis Benjamin
20. Derek Ramstrom
21. John Flemming
22. Kevin Kimball
23. Bill Rodgers
24. Rick Martin
25. Lonnie Sommerville
26. Dale Shaw
27. Jeff Burgess
28. Ralph Nason
29. Mike Parks