Ben Rowe Calls His Home Run, and Delivers, at WMMP by Mike Twist
PASS North Point Leader Continues an Amazing Record at NH Track
Ben Rowe wasn't really surprised that he ended the night at White Mountain as the first driver to see the checkered flag. (Jamie Williams Photos)
Early in the going, Rowe wasn't in the mix as far as the lead was concerned. His teammate Trevor Sanborn and polesitter Cassius Clark were the stars of the show. Clark the majority of the laps, but Sanborn also poked through to lead his share of times as well. And whenever one was in the front, the other one wasn't far behind at all.
“We started on the pole, so it was a little easier to lead that way,” said Clark. “We thought that we had one of the better cars out there, so I was trying to save it a little bit, but we had a good race going there [with Trevor Sanborn].”
Sports fans know all about the legend of Babe Ruth's called shot during the 1932 World Series. Supposedly, Ruth pointed towards the center section of the outfield bleachers at Wrigley Field during the fifth inning of game three. On the next pitch, Ruth hit a home run right to that same area, just like he had boldly predicted.
The PASS North version of Babe Ruth, four-time champion Ben Rowe, made a similar bold prediction after finishing third last week at Wiscasset Raceway (ME). Rowe followed in the tire tracks of Johnny Clark all race long at Wiscasset and had nothing to take the lead from him at that venue, but after the race Rowe made a statement to live up to for the next race at White Mountain.
“We know that this here is Johnny's house,” said Rowe after the Wiscasset event. “But next week we go back to White Mountain and that is my house, so we'll see what happens there.”
What happened was that Rowe won for the eighth time in PASS North competition at the track.
“I told you didn't I?” laughed Rowe, after the White Mountain race was over. “I'm not tooting my own horn, but I said it.”
Rowe didn't hit a grand slam or even a home run to win at White Mountain. Instead, he pounded the competition by lying out some solid base hits to come out ahead when the 150 laps race was all over.
Walt Hammond's #97h went up in flames after a mechanical failure at WMMP.
“We were both the class of the race.,” said Sanborn. “Cassius ran me right and I ran him right. They told me to lay back and wait. I did that and then we got into lapped traffic…”
That was when the lapped car of Steve Berry and Sanborn made contact with neither party coming out ahead. Sanborn took a trip into the turn four wall backwards - ending his chance at a victory while Berry took a penalty that left him disqualified from the race. We'll have more on that incident later this week.
With Sanborn out of the picture, Rowe only had to deal with Clark when it came to battling for the top spot.
“The best car in the house, as far as I'm concerned, got wrecked,” said Rowe. “I think that Trevor had the best car. I couldn't run with him or the #8 early, so I just saved my stuff. “
That exercise in being conservative almost went for naught though when Rowe made contact with Johnny Clark while racing for the third position and went for a wild ride through the infield.
“I was having fun racing with Johnny and I don't know what happened.,” said Rowe. “The #8 [of Cassius Clark] might have pinched him off or something, but he just went into the wall and then he bounced off and hit me. That sent me into the infield. I had all four tires in the grass. There was grass and sod everywhere. I came out right back into traffic and only lost two spots, but it broke my momentum. I couldn't lift though because they would have run me over, so to go sailing through the infield and come back up through was good.”
Rowe's winning move came after a restart with less than 40 laps to go. That was when he went by a surprised Cassius Clark.
“Cassius knew that I had a crate engine in the car, so on a late race restart he was keeping the speed way, way down. I knew what his plan was, so I just stayed ahead of him and the outside had a lot of grip, so I stayed out there and got by Cassius,” said Rowe.
“Ben got by me on that restart and I was a little surprised because he has a crate motor,” said Clark. “He was able to pinch me down, but it was nothing I wouldn't have done, and then he cleared me a little bit and I was just waiting for the right moment after that. I waited too long. The lapped cars held me up a little bit and I couldn't get a run on the outside. I just came up a little bit short.”
Also coming a little bit short was Canadian John Flemming, who served as the caboose on a three-car breakaway train at the end led by Rowe and Clark. Like Rowe, Flemming didn't come on strong until the end either.
“I was running it hard and then I'd back off a little bit,” said Flemming of his early strategy. “I was working with my brakes just a little bit. Once that I got the brakes to where they were decent and the car would turn, I got back going, so I could get on those fellas.”
Flemming was hoping for Rowe or Clark to make an error that would allow him to steal the lead, but he knew that wasn't likely to happen.
“You just get right on the guy and if anyone makes a mistake, you try to fill the hole,” said Flemming. “But both of the guys were pretty stout and didn't make any mistakes. They ran hard the whole race. It was fun racing with them.”
But not as much fun as it is for Rowe to come to White Mountain. His career record at the track now shows eight victories now in addition to six runner-up finishers. All of those accomplishments have come in just 17 starts there.
That means that Rowe is batting higher than Babe Ruth ever did - .470 for White Mountain victories and an eye-popping .824 for top two finishes at the track.
“I just love this place!” said Rowe. “It's a lot of fun and you can really race here. You
work your tail off, but it's fun.”
Next up for Rowe and his Richard Moody team will be the PASS South race at Orange
Country Speedway, in a series where Rowe just hasn't tasted the same amount of
success lately (Rowe's only PASS South victory to date is in the 2007 Mason-Dixon
Meltdown at North Carolina's Concord Motorsport Park).
“We've got to do this down South now,” said Rowe. “We go down there and use up
all of our bad luck. We know that we can run with those Southern guys and we'll put
these things back together in two weeks and go to Orange County to have some more
“We're going to test some these week and try to do something different. There
are a few areas where we're getting bit, so we'll see what we can do about that.”
After three PASS North races in 2008, Rowe extended his point lead with the White
Mountain victory. Even though it is early in the season, Rowe admits to be thinking a little bit about points already.
“It's nice [to be leading the points],” said Rowe. “These points are so close now that you have to be on the money every week. There are three or four teams who are always on their game, so you have to stay right after it and that's what we do. These guys bust their tails on these things.”
The PASS North series returns to action on June 15th at Wiscasset Raceway (ME).
Ben Rowe (Center), Runner-Up Cassius Clark (Left) and third-place finisher John Flemming (Right).
Cassius Clark (#8), Johnny Clark (#54) and Ben Rowe (#4) race in tight quarters.