PASS Leftovers – Mason Dixon 500 at South Boston Speedway by Jason Buckley and Elgin Traylor
Johnny Clark Wins, Alex Haase is the Champion, Trevor Sanborn not happy
JOHNNY CLARK WRAPS UP PASS SEASON IN STYLE
The dream season continues for Johnny Clark. He’s had a year that no one can top in asphalt Super Late Model Racing. Clark has been on fire, winning three of his last five starts. Those three wins just happened to be the biggest races on the Pro All Stars Series schedule.
Clark, who is the 2008 PASS North Champion, won at Wiscasset Raceway (ME) and took home $30,000. He backed it up with a $10,000 win at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) a few weeks later. The finishing touch was his Mason-Dixon 500 win at South Boston Speedway (VA), his first win south of the Mason-Dixon line and another $10,000 payday.
“I told my guys when I crossed the start-finish line that this was the best car I had ever driven,” said Clark. “I can’t thank the guys enough. I have never won in the south; we don’t come down here much. I know people have heard of us. I am not saying just me I mean the whole team. We all bust our butts and work hard. We have never sealed the deal until tonight.”
Clark led most of the race and faltered only when the new tires were strapped on at halfway. After a few laps the car came back to life and Clark pulled away for the win.
Many would think that Clark has a top notch race shop with several full time employees. That’s far from the case.
“I don’t have any full times guys," explained Clark. "I don’t have one guy on this team I pay. I told everyone this might be our last race of the year and they might all get laid off. Maybe now we will have to go to the Snowball (the Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Florida). To be a real small team from Farmingdale, Maine, and to come down south to run strong is really special.”
HAASE WINS 2008 PASS SOUTH TITLE
Despite a trip into the wall after losing a tire and a tangle on track with one of the title contenders, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Alex Haase was able to capture the 2008 PASS South Super Late Model championship.
Speed51.com will have more on the championship in the coming weeks.
SANBORN NOT HAPPY AFTER TANGLE FOR THE LEAD
Johnny Clark had the best car in the first 125 laps of the race, but at half way another car came to life, the #44 of Trevor Sanborn. After starting fifth, Sanborn charged in the second half of the race to take the lead on lap 142. It was the first time all night that someone had passed Clark for the lead.
On lap 150, Sanborn’s night took a turn for the worse when he was on the inside of Clark. As the two went into turn one, Sanborn's car went around, taking him out of winning contention and collecting South points contender Corey Williams. Depending on whom you asked, Sanborn either lost it on his own from overdriving it or Clark chopped him off, causing the spin.
Sanborn escaped with minimal damage while Williams would loose two laps on pit road making repairs. After the race Sanborn was very vocal about the run-in with Clark.
“He (Clark) had me by half a car and when we went into the corner he cut down wicked hard and took the wheel right out of my hands,” said Sanborn.
Clark offered the other side of the story, saying it was a racing accident.
“I don’t know what happened in turn one,” said Clark. “I don’t know why he didn’t go to the bottom. It looked like he was trying to arch off into the corner. We got together and he went around. I was mad at him at first because he I felt almost wrecked us. He’s probably mad at me, but that’s racing.”
Williams was riding behind both drivers in third spot when the incident took place.
“To me it was one of those racing deals,” added Williams. “I felt that everyone held there own lanes going into the corner. The next thing I know the #44 (Sanborn) is sideways in front of me.”
Johnny Clark had not won in the south until this year's Mason-Dixon 500 at South Boston Speedway. (51 Sports Photo)
Trevor Sanborn (R) was not too happy with Johnny Clark (L) after a tangle for the lead on lap 150. (51 Sports Photo)
Sanborn managed to come back and finish fourth.
“I thought we had the car to beat,” added Sanborn. “When you get wrecked like that intentionally, it’s just a joke.”
FULTZ SETTLES FOR SECOND
While Jeff Fultz was busy housing cars this week for Cassius Clark, he also got his Super Late Model ready for South Boston. All the work paid off as Fultz got his best PASS finish of the season, a second place run.
“The guys had the car working really good; I couldn’t ask for a better car,” said Fultz. “The car had a miss towards the end of the race and I felt if I took it easy it would be fine. Then it dropped a cylinder and we were done after that.”
Despite not getting the victory he wanted in the final PASS race of the season, Fultz was appreciative of the help he has received from many this year.
“I have to thank all the guys like Joe Shear, Jr. for coming. He does great work us. I have to thank Hamke racecars, Pro Shocks, Five Star Bodies, and of course Speed51 and all our guys in the pits."
WAKEFIELD A SPECTATOR EARY AT SOBO
Justin Wakefield's night ended early at South Boston Speedway. (51 Sports Photo)
Justin Wakefield has had a great season in PASS South. Two wins and a bunch of strong runs led to high expectations at South Boston. However the run didn’t last long as Wakefield was reduced to a spectator after only 58 laps. A stack up on a restart ended his day.
“By the time I hit high gear everyone just stopped,” said Wakefield. “I hit the 62 (Mark Gibson) and the 91 (Heath Hindman) hit us. We’ll fix it and we’ll be back one of these days. We haven’t been that good here we had skip in the motor. We just missed it a little here and when you qualify in the back like that this is what happens.”
CANADA REPRESENTS: SOMMERVILLE RUNS STRONG
It was a 24 hour ride home for New Brunswick’s Lonnie Sommerville, but he will have a smile on his face for several days after he got to live the dream of racing in the south.
Sommerville grew up a NASCAR fan, watching the old Nationwide races on TV at tracks like South Boston. During the Mason-Dixon 500 he got to live his dream by racing at the same track as NASCAR stars like Jeff Burton, Ward Burton, Elliott Sadler and Denny Hamlin.
DJ SHAW SET TO CARRY ON FAMILY NAME
DJ Shaw has turned some heads in the past few years as an accomplished Late Model and Super Late Model driver. Many fans may remember his father Dale Shaw on the old Busch North circuit. The elder Shaw also had a stint in the Nationwide Series. That is where the team hopes DJ can go.
His race Saturday at South Boston in the PASS South event turned out ok, finishing sixth, but they felt they could have been better.
“It was a decent finish; I think we could have done a lot better,” said Shaw. “I made the call to come down pit road late in the race to make changes. I should have known that we couldn’t have fixed the right front. We just ended up taking more bite away. I think we had something for Fultz, but we just made the car worse and we could never make it through the traffic.”
BLANEY STAYS TOUGH AFTER 250 GREEN FLAG LAPS
Rookie driver Ryan Blaney went the distance with the best in the Super Late Model world at South Boston. It’s been a learning season for the 14-year-old racer, who is the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racer Dave Blaney. To race to a solid eighth-place finish was an accomplishment, considering the Super Late Model veterans that he was up against.
“It was a long race, but it wasn’t that bad since they stopped at half way,” said Blaney. “It was nice to have a little break. Sometimes you can just hit the straight-aways wrong, and you hit it and it snaps the car loose. We did it a few times.”
Blaney doesn’t have any plans right now for the rest of the season, but a trip to Pensacola could be in the works for the second-generation driver.
PASS NATIONAL CHAMPION TAKES HOME THIRD
Last week at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Cassius Clark earned the PASS National Championship, despite damage that took him out of the race. After the event, instead of going back up home to Maine, Clark stayed in the Carolinas and worked out of Jeff Fultz’s shop. The long nights repairing his car for South Boston paid off as he finished third in the Mason-Dixon 500.
Despite the work at the shop, during the day Clark had to make changes at the track.
“We were pretty decent in practice, but when the race started we were junk. We were racing for last,” said Clark. “The car was jumping up and down and bouncing all over the place.
“We made a lot of changes there at halfway. Then we had a racecar again, but we didn’t have anything for Johnny (Clark, no relation). It was worth the effort we put in to get third."
THE PHANTOM TREE
Even though the Mason-Dixon 500 was a week before Halloween, a strange thing caught many people's attention at South Boston... a phantom tree.
Behind turns one and two of the track is a line of trees, which is common for any racing facility as nature provides a great sound buffer between the track and the surrounding communities. What is odd though about SoBo is a lone tree, reaching well into the skyline, above all the rest of the foliage.
It appears to either be a dead tree or a tree that has lost all it's trimmings. Either way, it is an odd site and brought a Halloween feel to the Mason-Dixon 500 event.
MISSING SOUTH DRIVERS
Despite PASS officials promoting the Mason-Dixon 500 heavily and the large purse they put up for winning the event, the car count for the PASS South Super Late Model Series season finale was a bit disappointing. A total of 26 cars showed up to race with a large chunk being drivers from the PASS North region.
(Top) Cassius Clark (middle) looks under the hood of his Ford during the halfway break. (Bottom) The strange tree at South Boston. (51 Sports Photos)
Some of the big names that have raced in the PASS South this season that were missing in action included John Stancill, Ben Rowe, Bradley McCaskill, Spencer Wauters and Dean Clattenburg.
Also not in attendance was the BDI Racing team, who won a race earlier this season at Motor Mile with Zach Stroupe. The team is still in operation and is fielding applications for their Super Late Model for races later in the season and next year.