Alex Haase Drives Kyle Busch Motorsports #51H To Victory For First PASS South Victory by Jason Buckley
Wake County Speedway (NC) Produces Fourth First-Time Winner In Series' 2008 Season
Alex Haase was fast throughout the practice and qualifying session at Wake County Speedway. (51 Sports Photo)
This season in PASS South competition it has been expected to see Alex Haase in victory lane. Besides the talent he has from the driver’s seat, Haase has the backing of NASCAR driver Kyle Busch and his #51H Kyle Busch Motorsports Super Late Model at the track. However Haase has had to sit by, watching driver after driver get their first win in the Super Late Model series while he wondered when or even if his day would come.
Corey Williams sported a "Batman" logo on his car at Wake County (top) while Heath Hindman sported a smile in his car (bottom) after practice. (51 Sports Photos)
Alex Haase snagged his first PASS South winner's trophy at Wake County, despite all the damage on the front of his car. (51 Sports photo)
Friday night at Wake County Speedway (NC), Haase didn’t have to wait any longer as he drove the #51H to the lead and onto victory lane for his first PASS South victory in the “Capital City Clash 150” Super Late Model event.
While there were only 12 cars that showed up to race for the win on the tight quarter-mile track in Raleigh, it wasn’t a cake walk for Haase as he had some stiff competition at the facility with him. Haase timed in second with Corey Williams taking the pole, but on the redraw he had to work his way back to the front from the sixth position – something that took almost one-third of the race to accomplish.
“We just took our time and took what was given to us,” said Haase. “I knew when I was about third place we were going to have a good car. I went after it and it worked out. We got the lead and never looked back.”
Looking back might not have been an issue for Haase as he pulled away from Williams and the rest of the field, but looking forward was. Right before the halfway mark, Haase came off turn two and prepared to pass Brandon Johnson. On the narrow backstretch, Haase and Johnson made contact, sending the #51H ramping off the rear of the #26 machine, heading skyward. Both drivers were able to continue without a yellow, but the next few laps ended up being a feeling-out process for Haase.
“The track is so tight,” explained Haase. “I was underneath him (Johnson). I was up to his left rear and he still came down. Off of two it gets real tight. We just got into each other; it was no big deal. I was definitely feeling it out a little bit. The only difference I could tell was it was dragging the nose a little bit. It didn’t cut a tire and the tire wasn’t going down. We got lucky.”
Behind him, Williams closed in when the incident happened, but saw Haase drive back away from him.
“I was back there and all of a sudden I see his (Haase) car jump up in the air,” said Williams. “I couldn’t believe how high up in the air it went. He had to have done something (to the car). I saw him sparking. I hadn’t seen him do that earlier in the race. I thought he was going to have a right front tire go flat. I can’t believe he was able to finish the race. That is pretty impressive.”
The remainder of the race when green to the checkered flag, which was good news for both Haase and Williams, but bad news for Heath Hindman, who was gaining on the two leaders during the second half of the event. He ended up finishing third.
“I am happy with it (the finishing result), but knowing I was running them down there at the end, I wanted a caution, but I am still happy with it,” said Hindman. “I tried not to spin my tires. I was probably using a quarter throttle down the straightaway for a hundred laps. A few times I tried to gas it to light the tires up and keep my momentum.”
Up front, Haase struggled keeping an ill-handling car underneath him, but was able to do so until the 150-lap mark was in the books.
“I didn’t know how long it was going to last,” said Haase. “We were getting loose. It never turned around and got better. I was just doing the same thing throughout the race and it stayed.”
The top-three racers were satisfied following the event with their finishing results, but were even more complimentary of the track – the first time PASS South had visited the Wake County Speedway.
“I showed up and tested here and I thought ‘what happened?’ It is a small place, buy real racey,” explained Haase. “It is a real unique track.”
Williams agreed, but wished there would have been a larger turnout of drivers.
“I think they should come back,” said Williams. “I wish they could get more of a car count. I was kind of disappointed to see 12 cars when you know there were a lot more out there that could have been here. Honestly no one really tore anything up bad tonight. I thought it was a good show, so hopefully we will come back next year.”
Even Hindman had a smile on his face after the race, even though he normally doesn’t prefer to race on the shorter tracks.
“I don’t like small race tracks, but this was pretty fun,” said Hindman. “The double-file restarts were kind of tough. There really wasn’t enough room, but it was fun.”
Whether or not PASS comes back to Wake County next season, Friday night Haase etched his name in the PASS South record books as the fourth first-time winner in five races this season, joining Perry Brown (Watermelon Capital Speedway in Coredele, Georgia), Zach Stroupe (Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia) and Trevor Sanborn (Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, North Carolina). Haase has won before in other types of cars, but this was his first win in the PASS South Super Late Model and his first win under Kyle Busch Motorsports.
“I have run late models around the country, so I know what it takes to do it,” explained Haase. “It is cool to get the first win on the East Coast. We had a blast.”
Of course, a win in your car owner’s car means a phone call in victory lane to the boss. Busch was many miles away at Infineon Speedway in Sonoma, California, but was happy to finally see Haase and the KBM team get a victory.
“He (Busch) is a racer and knows what it takes,” said Haase. “He was stoked.”
For Busch, it wasn't his first win with his own team, but it was the first win for his team with someone else behind the wheel.
"I won a race last year with my team, but this was my first win as a team owner," said Busch. "And I know there was only twelve guys there, but with the exception of Bob’s team (Dillner with Zach Stroupe), they were all the good guys; Corey Williams, Perry Brown, (Heath) Hindman and the rest of them.
"To have Alex come out from the West Coast and compete here on the East Coast is cool. He’s been working 12-14 hours a day with the rest of the guys. It’s tough on all of them, but it finally paid off. It means a lot to me and him and the family, so hopefully this continues on and we can get some more wins."