PASS Goes 3-1 Against Mother Nature at Speedway 95 by Mike Twist
Mulkern, Lucas and McKeage Win, SLM Race Gets Postponed
John Fleming (#97) races with Jesse Smith (#55) during a PASS North heat race at Speedway 95. (51 Photo)
Adam Bates and DJ Shaw also both won their heat races.
PASS officials have not announced a make-up date for the Speedway 95 PASS North event yet.
MULKERN FLIES TO, AND AT, SPEEDWAY 95
Scott Mulkern picks and chooses the races that he runs carefully these days and that's a shame since “The Kernal” is considered by most of the PASS pit area to be one of the most stand-up guys out there. But while Mulkern once was a near-regular in PASS North, and and often an entrant in PASS South, now he limits his racing quite a bit.
All afternoon long on Saturday at Speedway 95, people in the PASS pit area looked up at the sky and were amazed that on-track activities were able to continue on. The air was heavy, there was light rain and everything was gray. But for the most part, the track stayed dry. Features were held for the PASS Modifieds, PASS Outlaw Late Models, PASS Sportsman and a local Pro Four division of mini stocks.
However, just as the pace laps were underway for the grand finale 150-lap PASS North Super Late Model race, the rain got heavier and the plug was pulled on the event.
Polesitter John Fleming was so eager to get underway that he didn't even seem to mind the rain…he would have raced in it anyways.
“Actually, I was ready to give it a shot because the track felt like had some grip in it,” said Fleming. “I think we would have been okay. I think so…but I could be wrong. Maybe I'm optimistic.”
Fleming started on the pole due to winning his heat race earlier in the day. The Canadian driver has stepped up his game in 2008 and the results being shown by his Seth Holbrook-led team are starting to show it.
“Things are definitely coming together really quickly, we couldn't be more pleased really,” said Fleming.
Scott Mulkern's winning #84. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Before and after the intermission, Mark Lucas was able to translate a heat race victory and front row starting spot into a feature race victory with his #9 Modified.
He accomplished that by using a lot of care.
“That last restart, it was just like driving on ice,” said Lucas. “I just barely put any power down going into the corners. I had to work to keep it under me. I was running really easy to keep it going. With these slicks on, it was tough.”
The race was shortened to 27 laps instead of 40 after because of the rain. Before that happened, a notable wreck took place while several drivers were battling for the lead. Andy Shaw attempted to pass Lucas for the lead, but found the door closed while running down the backstretch. Shaw slid up into the backstretch dirt and then shot down into the #85 Modified of Kenny Harrison. Both cars then spun and hit the turn three tire barrier hard. Shaw fired up and drove away to a finish of sixth. Harrison was credited with the 10th position.
Lucas knew that trouble was coming in his mirror.
Gary Norris went for a swim early, but came back to place himself on the podium in the PASS Modified race. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Mulkern entered the PASS North season opener at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) last month and was quick, but mechanical woes sidelined him before the conclusion of the race. Still, he must have had some fun since he made the last minute decision this week to head to Speedway 95 and bring out his #84 PASS Outlaw Late Model for the weekend.
While his crew towed to the track, Mulkern was a little bit behind them. The newly-licensed private pilot flew up after practice began and hopped into the car for the heat race. The lack of laps didn't hurt him one bit either. After an early battle with 2007 PASS Modified champion Chris Staples and Mike Harnish, Mulkern checked out from the field and won the race.
Staples, Harnish, Joe Decker and Scott Alexander rounded out the top five.
We attempted to get a word from Mulkern after the race, but we were a bit too slow in
getting back to his pit area. It turned out that after the victory lane celebrations were
over, Mulkern hailed a cab to the airport and jetted back home - with an extra trophy as his carry on luggage.
LUCAS SLIPS AND SLIDES TO PASS MODIFIED VICTORY LANE
Racing with slick tires and water usually don't mix too well and the PASS Modified feature at Speedway 95 was no exception to that rule. A light rain kept the track moist for the Mod feature and even gave teams an unplanned intermission - when the track got a little too wet and the PASS Sportsman with semi-grooved tires were able to sneak their feature in.
“I had a feeling that they were going to start spinning out behind me. “
The victory by Lucas goes along with a third place finish to start the season at Beech Ridge.
“Hopefully, our luck with continue,” said Lucas. “We had a pretty good run going at Beech Ridge and the car has run good so far this year. We're going to try [to chase points] if the money holds out.”
Tom Oliver finished second while Gary Norris, Jr. recovered from an early trip through the muddy infield to finish third.
McKEAGE'S WINNING WAYS AT BACK IN WET SPORTSMAN FEATURE
Dan McKeage also slipped and slid to victory at Speedway 95. The defending PASS
Sportsman champion won his 50-lap feature under wet condition.
“It was a little bit wet out there,” said McKeage. “It was slippery.”
Setting up a car for changing conditions is never easy. So the #38 team of McKeage
had their hands full before the feature and their efforts appeared to pay off.
“It wasn't too good in the heat race, but we threw something at it. We were skeptical
and asking each other questions, so I knew I'd either be a hero or a zero. “
Following McKeage to the finish were Shane Tatro and Richie Morse.
Dan McKeage in victory lane. (Jamie Williams Photo)