Shaw and Merrill Both Win PASS Features at Beech Ridge by Mike Twist
Modified and Sportsman Series Both Start Up For 2008
The podium finishers after the Beech Ridge PASS Modified feature. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“Dave Weir went to Brunswick to get the motor," said Shaw. "We did the deal over the phone from the track. We went back to Conway and started working on the car. We took off the parts we needed, took out the tranny and the front end of the motor. Dave got back and we had to pressure wash the inside of the car because there was oil everywhere. We finished [for the night] at about 12:30, all worked until five on Friday and then went down to put the motor in, scale the car, load it up and come here this morning.”
The result of all of the team's hard work was a car that won the Beech Ridge 40-lap feature - and drove just as well as the racecars that Shaw is used to driving.
Andy Shaw Wins in First PASS Modified Start
Andy Shaw is known in Northern New England as a former Pro Stock / Super Late Model competitor. He was a pretty good shoe in those cars too - running strong at Oxford Plains Speedway, on the PASS North tour and in open shows at various tracks.
On Saturday, he took a new step in his racing career by starting, and winning, his first PASS Modified race. Shaw made easy pickings of the field by winning his heat race and dominating the feature, but putting the #66 Modified into that position was anything but easy for Shaw and his team, which is owned by Dave and Crystal Weir.
An entire off-season of preparation on the car, which was run for a different team in 2007 by PASS Modified Rookie of the Year Chris Smith, turned sour when a new crate engine failed during its maiden practice session.
“The first time that I ever drove a Modified was Thursday,” said Shaw. “But we only got 20 laps in because we blew the motor.”
At that point, cell phones started to work overtime and the team made a deal to buy an engine from 2007 PASS Modified champion Chris Staples. As the team packed up and headed in one direction back to their shop in New Hampshire, the team owner took off in the other direction to get their new powerplant.
Shaw's #66 Modified. (51 Photo)
Merrill is a veteran of the Beech Ridge Super Sportsman division and knowing his way around the flat oval didn't hurt during the 50-lap feature race. Although some of the experience that he has earned by running occasional 100-lap Beech Ridge features didn't exactly come into play either.
“It helps a little bit,” said Merrill of his track experience. “A 50 lapper is harder than a 100 lapper because you really have to go the whole way as hard as you can. I rode there for the first 20 laps or so and took what I could get and in the end I just got lucky.”
Beech Ridge runner Ron Smith hopped into Landry's back-up car, numbered #00, and made the most of it - finishing second behind Merrill.
The top five was rounded out by former PASS Modified regular Richie Morse, Duanne Seekins and Shane Tatro.
The top three finishers of the PASS Sportsman feature. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“It drives as good of as a Pro Stock. Our times were only a little bit off. We were consistently in the 15.6s all day and the best Pro Stock that I saw was a 15.1, so we weren't far off from those. It drove good. We put a lot of work into the car this winter and it seemed to work.”
Gary Norris, Mark Lucas, Tom Oliver and Ronald Gooden, Jr. rounded out the top five finishers.
Merrill Comes Out on Top in PASS Sportsman Feature
The PASS Pluffybilt Racing Tractors Sportsman Series has been all about Dan McKeage and Mike Landry of late. In 2007, there was only one race where at least one of the duo didn't finish in either the first or second position. McKeage won the championship and the friendly rivals (McKeage's Top Gun Builders is even a sponsor on his competitor's car) continued their dominance early in the 2008 season opener at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) on Saturday by each winning a heat race.
But the dominance ran out and another 2007 race winner, Terry Merrill, rose to the occasion. Landry had early trouble in the race and McKeage's engine expired on lap 43. Merrill then inherited the lead and ran with it - winning his second career race on the tour.
“It's a great way to start out the season,” said Merrill. “I got a little lucky. I think that Dan McKeage and Mike Landry were real good at the beginning. We weren't that good [at first], but we kept ourselves in a position where the cautions helped out and got us to the front.”