Williams to Drive Cushman #29 at Thompson By Mike Twist
PASS South Driver Comes Back to PASS North in a Potent Car
At one point, driver Corey Williams and the #29 Ford team of car owner Jay Cushman were both very familiar faces in the PASS North pit area, but lately they have been missed. They both raced separately, but were a big part of the community in the series.
Lately though, both have been absent from the action up North. Williams has gone on to make a name for himself in PASS South competition, winning the most races to date in that fledging series. Cushman has sat out most of the season, running Florida Speedweeks with Trevor Sanborn and fielding an entry for NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Regan Smith in the rain-delayed race at All-Star Speedway (NH) recently. Cushman has come around to most of the races on the schedule to visit old friends and keep up with the circuit, but it just hasn't been the same without his truck and trailer in the pits.
This week though, Cushman and Williams will be back and for the first time, they'll be working together with the young driver getting behind the wheel of the familiar #29 machine for the PASS North race at Thompson International Speedway (CT).
For Williams, it will be a chance to race close to home. The Maine native moved to North Carolina following his 2006 racing season and has only made one start up north, in the 2007 TD Banknorth Oxford 250, since that time.
“I love racing up in New England,” said Williams. “I've been trying to put together a deal to come up and race in PASS North and I especially wanted to do the Thompson race. Luckily, I hooked up with Jay and we put this deal together.”
Originally, Cushman intended to put Modified ace Ted Christopher in his car for Thompson. After all, that is the site of Christopher's only career PASS North victory and the two have a long history of working together. But a scheduling conflicts (the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be at New York's Spencer Speedway on Saturday), kept TC from being able to run the race.
“It's pretty hard to replace Ted Christopher, but I think that we'll do okay,” said Cushman. “Corey is a great driver and he can teach us a few things too. I like him and I like his guys. We all get along and I think that we can win down there together. I can supply him with a good car and he knows how to drive.”
A “good car” might be a bit of an understatement. Cushman is known for building some exceptionally powerful engines himself and that is the key to success at Thompson, a track with long straightaways. Cushman isn't cutting any corners for this race.
“Last year down there, we finished second with Trevor Sanborn and it was the first time that he had ever seen the place,” said Cushman. “We're going back with the same car this time. I built an engine for just Thompson and Antigonish and I've freshened that up. We've got some new shocks coming. We should have everything we need this weekend.”
In fact, when news of Christopher's scheduling conflict got out, Cushman became a very popular guy.
“I talked to at least 15 drivers about racing at Thompson,” said Cushman. “They were 15 very good drivers too. Everyone wants to go to Thompson and drive someone else's car. But I think that I made the right choice with Corey.”
“This is a great opportunity,” said Williams. “I know that we'll have a great shot at winning the race and to pull one off at Thompson would be great. I'm excited to work with Jay on this.”
And after sitting on the sidelines for what seems like forever, Cushman is excited too.
“It's been tough,” said Cushman. “I don't miss spending the money that it takes to run one of these cars and I don't miss the six days of commitment in the shop that it takes to work on them. But I do miss the one day a week at the track. I had too much invested in racing at Thompson to not do something and it really made me feel good when I had 15 people interested in driving for me. I think we made a good choice with Corey and I'm excited for this weekend.”
The PASS North Series will share billing with the NASCAR Camping World East Series on this Saturday, July 12th at Thompson. Speed51.com will be there to provide Trackside Now coverage of both events.
Corey Williams (Top) will drive the #29 Ford this weekend at Thompson - it's a car that finished second there last year. (Bottom - Rick Ibsen Photo)