51 Leftovers: PASS North at Beech Ridge By Mike Twist
Plenty of Fireworks, and Stories, on Independence Day Weekend
ROWE VS. DEARBORN TAKES CENTER STAGE
Well, here are the facts. Ben Rowe and Richie Dearborn were battling for a position on the lead lap as the PASS North race entered the home stretch at Beech Ridge. They touched. Rowe ended up in the backstretch wall. Dearborn didn't.
Those are the plain and simple facts, of which there are only a few. But there were no shortage of opinions about the incident after the race.
“He just blatantly wrecked us,” said Rowe. “He turned me and I don't know the reason for it. I'm sure that I'll find out sooner or later.
“Obviously, the #33 got into me and I don't really know [why]. We've had our differences before. I drove by him and I might have run him up [the track] a little bit, but we never touched or anything.”
“We were racing hard and had a good race going,” said Dearborn. “He [Rowe] kind of fell back and then came back up on me and roughed me up a little bit. I got back under him and he came down. He ended up in the wall.
“I've been roughed up quite a bit over the past few years, and usually by the same guys, so I'm not going to back down. I've had enough and they know that I'm pretty competitive. If they rough me up a little bit, they are going to get it back.”
Rowe thinks that Dearborn might have mistaken him for someone else though.
“Another car got into him going into turn one.,” said Rowe. “That's what put him three-wide to begin with. I don't know if he thought that was me or what.”
Dearborn might admit to not backing down, but he flat out denies that he wrecked Rowe on purpose.
“No,” he said matter-of-factly when asked. “It might have looked that way, but I don't race that way.”
Hopefully, the battle ended at Beech Ridge, since PASS heads to one of their fastest tracks on the schedule, Thompson, this weekend and retaliation there could be a very ugly thing.
“I'm not one to retaliate or stuff like that, but now I'm wrecked and he's sitting over there laughing about it,” said Rowe. “It was a hard hit and the car is wrecked. We're going to Thompson next week and hopefully we don't get together there because the speeds are flying there. But we'll rebound. We've got more cars.”
NOT GOOD TO BE A ROWE…OR A CLARK
The Beech Ridge PASS North race was only the fifth time in PASS North history when there wasn't a driver with the last name of Rowe or Clark in the top five finishers.
Patrick Laperle's July 2006 victory at Unity was the most recent time when that happened. But on that day, the Rowes and Clarks were both close to the top five. Johnny Clark placed sixth and Mike Rowe was seventh.
In the 2003, Big Dawg 400 at Wiscasset, Sam Sessions won and the highest finishing of the Rowe/Clark posse was Ben Rowe in 27th. He had plenty of company back there with his father Mike in 28th, Johnny Clark placed 30th and Cassius Clark in 31st.
In 2001, Ben Rowe finished 22nd in the Atlantic CAT 250 at Scotia Speedworld. There were no others Rowes or any Clarks in that field.
And in the first ever PASS North race contested, back in 2001 at Lee USA Speedway, Mike Rowe placed 16th and Ben Rowe placed 23rd. There weren't any Clarks on that day either.
MULKERN'S MAGIC BUS
When Scott Mulkern rolled into the back gate at Beech Ridge, he wasn't behind the wheel of his immaculate Kenworth tractor and semi-trailer hauler. In fact, that trailer has found a new home with the #54 team of Johnny Clark.
Instead, Mulkern's #84 was being carried in the back of an early 1980's International
School Bus, converted to a new life as a race car hauler….and Mulkern couldn't have
“I sold that on Wednesday and [crew members] Tony [Ricci] and Caesar [Morgan]
knew about a bus for sale for $1,500,” said Mulkern. “I told them to bring it down and
if it was no good, I'd bring it to the junkyard. How can you beat it?”
The price might have been right, but there were a few important systems that needed
attention before heading to the track.
“It didn't have any brakes when I got it,” said Mulkern. “I stepped on the brake and
there wasn't anything, so I told Tony to put in some brake fluid and it was coming out
the rear. So I got under the rear and told Tony to step on it so I could see where the
leak was and it sprayed me right in the face. It was like a sprinkler system under there.
Line after line kept on blowing.”
One little problem though might be the new hauler's reliability. Mulkern's old rig made its way to tracks from Lakeland, Florida to Canada. With the new one, he might not want to travel quite so far from his home base.
“Yes, I don't know how far I'll be able to go with it, but it works well for here since it is 10 minutes away.”
Richie Dearborn (#33) and Ben Rowe (#4) provided some fireworks at Beech Ridge. (Jamie Williams Photos)
Scott Mulkern's new hauler. (51 Photo)
BATES JOINS THE FIRST TIME WINNERS CLUB
Zach Stroupe, Trevor Sanborn, Alex Haase, DJ Shaw, Perry Brown and now Adam Bates. What do these drivers all have in common? Well, each one of the young competitors has been a first time winner in either PASS North or PASS South this season.
How does it feel to be a part of the PASS youth movement? We asked Bates moments after his victory.
“It feels awesome…I hope that the old guys are getting scared,” joked Bates.
“Hopefully, I can be the first repeat winner up North. I know Alex has done it down South, so hopefully I can do it up here.”
Bates also likes racing against his fellow young guns…but then again, he enjoys racing against the veterans too.
“I love it, but I love racing against everyone.”
SHAW IS SECOND AT HIS FORMER STOMPING GROUND
Prior to joining the PASS North circuit, D.J. Shaw raced weekly in the Pro Series [Super Late Model] division at Beech Ridge. In Saturday night's PASS North race there, he finished second. Was that a coincidence? Probably not.
“Maybe experience with this track helped, because I've run here more than any other
track, but I really was never this competitive for a win even in a weekly race.,” said Shaw.
“Set-up wise, we're far ahead of where we were last year. It feels good to finally run well
here. Especially in a long race.”
Coming on the heels of his first PASS North victory, a second place run felt pretty good.
“The team is really coming together and we're working well together. We 're getting the
right opportunities from JLM. They've really helped us a lot this year and that has
definitely helped. Hopefully, we can carry the momentum to Star because I'm not very
good there and it showed during our heat race last week.”
With his finish, Shaw moved into the second position of the PASS North standings. He's
still not thinking too much about that at this point though.
“We just keep trying to be consistent and we'll see where they fall. Bad luck for Benji
was bad luck for us when it comes to points, but I hate to see that happen.”
CHUBBUCK FINALLY HAS A GOOD DAY AT THE RIDGE
Scott Chubbuck has excelled at just about every racetrack in Maine. He's a legend at his home track of Wiscasset Raceway. He's won at Unity and Speedway 95. He's put on dominating performances in the Oxford 250.
Adam Bates' #98 (51 Photo)
But until this past weekend, he never really ran strong at Beech Ridge. This time around though, he put his Hight Motorsports #77 out front and ended up finishing third there.
“We're happy that we went good. It's something to work with and the best that I've ever run at Beech Ridge. We pretty much haven't had any [success] here,” said Chubbuck. “But we haven't raced here much. We got the set-up closer [tonight].”
RODGERS CARRIES THE FLAG FOR THE RIDGE RUNNERS
Three of the top six finishers in the PASS North race at Beech Ridge were regulars in the tracks' Pro Series division. But none of them placed higher than Bill Rodgers, who came home in the fourth position.
“It feels real good [to represent the Beech Ridge teams],” said Rodgers. “I think that there were about five of us out there tonight and it worked out well for us. In the beginning, we weren't too fast, but after a while they started coming to us.”
Rodgers didn't use the latest and greatest racecar to get his finish.
“We just got this car together. We worked on it all winter and just got it together for this race. It's one of my old cars. We rebuilt it and tried some new to go with the old.
“It was just a little bit too tight through the center tonight. I had to wait on t and wait on it before I could get on the gas. If it was a little looser through the center, I might have been able to catch up to them and raced them, but we stayed out of the wrecks and kept those nose clean.”
Even though he is used to running 40 laps features, the 150-lap PASS race didn't wear
“I actually feel pretty good. I could go even further.”
DEARBORN IS SMOKED OUT OF RIDGE RACE
Even before the Ben Rowe /Richie Dearborn incident, all eyes were on the #33 of Dearborn. It was quick enough o be one of the few cars to stay on the lead lap, but it was smoking pretty heavily at times. Not enough to immediately draw a black flag right away or park the car, but enough to wonder what was going to happen next.
Rowe, who was racing hard with Dearborn, was still talking about it after the race.
“He was smoking for 30 laps before that [The Rowe/Dearborn incident].” said Rowe.
“I couldn't get around him because he was leaking so much s--t.”
Dearborn was hoping to nurse his car to the finish though and take home a top 10 finish.
“We had a bad oil leak in the motor and it hit the headers,” said Dearborn. “That
caused a small fire. We knew there was enough oil in it and we were going to try
and make it to the end. Then they black-flagged us and we went so many laps down
that we decided to park it. We're not running for points anyways.”
That nugget of information was important to know, since Dearborn has been one of the
most consistent point men in recent season of PASS North racing, and a contender until
the last race of 2007 for the championship. But he confirmed that this year, he's not
looking for a run at the title.
“We're not going to Halifax,” said Dearborn. “We're going to stay close to home. It's a good schedule for that.”
HIGH SIDE IS THE PLACE TO BE
Often, at a relatively flat racetrack, the low groove is the quick way around. It's a shorter distance and unless someone can power by on the outside, it can often be tough to pass.
At Beech Ridge, track officials have treated the racing surface with a solution to improve the stickiness of the outside groove and have also turned that into a racy place to be.
“Once I got on the high side, it didn't seem like anyone could get enough bite down low to get by me,” reported race winner Adam Bates.
But the outside just might have been too good according to third-place finisher Scott Chubbuck.
“I don't know why Beech Ridge ruins the racetrack by putting that stuff in the second groove,” said Chubbuck. “It just makes the whole race lousy because everyone has to race in the same groove. You can't race the bottom. They do it for the 35 lappers because those guys will run around the bottom.”
A TV TRUCK IN THE PASS PITS?
There was one aspect of big league racing that the PASS event at Beech Ridge shared with your weekly NASCAR Sprint Cup race - a television truck in the pit area.
But it wasn't SPEED, ESPN or FOX in the pits at the Ridge, it was Steve Perry's Mainely Motorsports show showing up to get footage and interview for their weekly show, complete with a sparkling new TV trailer.
“A TV truck…I don't know about that,” laughed Perry. “The show is going pretty good
though. If it wasn't for the people at SnoPro Trailers, who provided me with this rolling
billboard, we'd be sitting in the front seat of a truck. But this works good. There's a
couch in there and it is well lit. it's got A/C and it works well. Plus, it's a good place
to get away.”
Mainely Motorsports, which started as a cable access program before Perry bought
the rights to the show, has grown up quite a bit recently. It now appears on Time
Warner cable and is accessible through the provider's On Demand system throughout
Maine and beyond.
“That has really helped and we're getting more added exposure,” said Perry. It's also
available in parts of New Hampshire now too, so [New Hampshire residents] D.J. and Dale [Shaw] are able to watch it. The more people who watch it and talk about it, the better. Word of mouth is the best advertisement for the show. It's going well and we've got some big plans for the future. I'm real happy.”
SANBORN IS SEVENTH CLOSE TO HOME
Trevor Sanborn recently won his first PASS South race on the road, at North Carolina's Orange County Speedway, but he would love to back that up with a victory in PASS North at his home track of Beech Ridge.
“I want to win here more than any place,” said Sanborn. “I grew up here and I know everyone here. I want to win here bad.”
On Saturday night, Sanborn had to settle for a solid seventh place finish though.
“It was all right. I expected more out of it, but what can you do?”
HAASE HAS BUSY WEEKEND
On Thursday, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Alex Haase went to the PASS South Firecracker 125 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC) and came away with the victory.
On Saturday, he made the trip up to Maine to compete in the 150 lapper at Beech
Ridge. His day wasn't as good up North though, as early problems led to a finish of
Haase plans to return to Beech Ridge for the PASS 400 weekend in September.
RAMSTROM ON A ROLL
If it wasn't for driveline problems late in the race at Beech Ridge, Derek Ramstrom
could possibly be the latest first time winner in PASS. But the teenager is getting
plenty used to winning off the PASS circuit. In his free time, he's been wheeling a Pro
Stock at Thompson International Speedway (CT) and in his last three starts, he has
come away with three feature victories there.
“I've been running at Thompson and that's been going good,:” said Ramstrom. We've got three wins in a row. That is really great. It's 20 minutes form home and it's our home track. To go down there and compete is great. We've been doing good so far.”
Ramstrom, a former PASS Outlaw champion, has been close to winning a PASS North race recently, but hasn't broken through to victory lane yet - so winning at Thompson is big for his morale.
“That definitely helps. We haven't had one since the year that I started, so to go and get three in a row adds a ton of confidence.”
It might not be much longer for Ramstrom to have to wait to earn a bigger trophy in a PASS North race though. The tour visits Thompson this Saturday as part of the Full Fendered Frenzy show, so you can rest assured that Ramstrom will be a contender in that event.
BENJAMIN BIRTHDAY BASHES
It was like a big birthday party in the Travis Benjamin pit on Saturday. Race day was also his son Kaiden's first birthday.
“We came down last night to try and relax - me, him and the wife. We were going to try and go to Chuck E. Cheese this morning, but we didn't make it,” said Travis Benjamin. “So we're going to have a big party for him tomorrow. If we had been racing on his birthday party, I'd be in trouble. It's bad enough racing on his birthday.”
That wasn't the only birthday celebration that involved the Benjamin clan.
“There's another kid who cheers for me, Matthew, who is having his fifth birthday,” said
Benjamin. “So I went over and had some cake with him. After the heat race. It's everyone's birthday, so the pressure is on the run good.”
Both Scott Chubbuck (#77) and Bill Rodgers (#53x) had top five finishes. (51 Photos)
Richie Dearborn (#33). (51 Photo)
The high line was the preferred way around Beech Ridge, which left plenty of traffic down low for those who couldn't get up there. (51 Photo)
The Mainely Motorsports TV trailer (51 Photo)
Trevor Sanborn's #44 (51 Photo)
Alex Haase's #51 (51 Photo)
Travis Benjamin had a birthday message to his son on his hood. (51 Photo)