Adam Bates Bests Johnny Clark at Beech Ridge PASS Bash
Is Friday Night Race a Predictor of PASS North's Title Race?
By Mike Twist
It's very possible that the championship battle for the PASS North Super Late Model series might come down to the same scenario as the final 10 laps of the tour's most recent race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME).

That is because the current top two in the PASS North standings duked it out over the final 10 laps of the Beech Ridge race.  Adam Bates edged defending champion Johnny Clark out for the victory this time, and also moved into the unofficial points lead.

The PASS North season is only six races old.  It hasn't even reached it's halfway mark yet.  But what happened at Beech Ridge could prove to be big in many ways.  DJ Shaw did not make it to the track in time after making his NASCAR Camping World East Series debut earlier in the afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  The missed start killed any long shot that Shaw had at the PASS North title. 

Other contenders also took smaller hits.  Chris Staples had his worst finish of the season so far - remarkably still an eighth place result.  Ben Rowe finished ninth after getting into a late-race wreck.  Travis Benjamin got turned out and taken out early - finishing last and Cassius Clark continued to have the bad luck bug bite him - this time resulting in a 12th-place finish.

But Bates and Clark decided the race among themselves - regardless of whether or not it is too early to worry about such things.

“I'm definitely glad to be up there and in contention,” said Bates.  “We're definitely going to start really looking at the big picture.  We have all year, but you also have to go and win.  If you're not going to win, this looses all of its fun.  So I guess in the long run, I'd rather win the most races than the championship, but I'd love to win the championship.”

“It's becoming a cool little battle,” said Johnny Clark.  “Benji had a bad race and we've had a bad race.  Everyone is bound to have at least one bad race.  Adam has just been plugging away, so right now he has the point lead.  But it's so early.  Look at where we were last year.  We came out of Wiscasset 50 points out of it and we ended up going and winning a couple of them at the end and getting a few top threes.  Our worst finish in the last half of the year was a fourth and we pulled it off.  So any one of us can do it.”

Bates sure drove like a champion at Beech Ridge.  Early in the race, he watched Kelly Moore run away from the top other top cars.  Then he watched Scott Chubbuck lead the race.  All of the time, Bates never let anyone get too far ahead.  He also didn't race hard either.

“I just rode behind them and let them burn themselves up and come back to me.  When that happened, I just kept going,” said Bates.

Clark quietly did the same thing.  He didn't run in the same pack of those three did earlier, but he did pace himself just right to line up next to Bates on the final restart of the night.

And after that, the race was on - whether the competitors involved were ready or not.

“I loved it, but I'm not going to lie - I was nervous,” said Bates.  “I was wetting myself before that last green.  I knew that Johnny would be coming on strong.  I'm glad that he came on in the end and made it a good show for the fans.  I don't know what it looked like behind me, but it was starting to get a little bit boring on that last green run.  I liked it though.”

“I thought that we were going to be able to do it,” said Clark.  “I really did.  I started to go by and then he just went by me.  I got too tight in the center.  I just got too tight at the end.  It was shoving the nose.  The car was tight, but I though that we him on the inside and me being on the outside like that, he wouldn't get any traction.  But he got some traction.  He was able to pull it off.  I don't know.  I just couldn't get it done.“

Even though he didn't win, Clark was very happy to be able to race with Bates at the end.

“Absolutely,” said Clark.  “We were rubbed a little bit and he apologized, but I said to him, “Hey, we didn't wreck each other and that's all that matters.”  It was good racing, real good racing.  I wish that I could have stayed on the outside of him and had a photo finish, but I just couldn't stay out there.  I tried to cross him over, but by the time that I got it turned to the bottom, he was already gone and he ended up pulling away.”

For Bates, the victory is the third one of his PASS North career and the second one that has happened at Beech Ridge.

“I'm starting to [really like this track],” said Bates. “We have a good record here.  Out of the last four races here, our worst finish here has been a second.”

The PASS North teams will return to action on Saturday, July 11th at Thompson International Speedway (CT).

Early in the race, Adam Bates (#98) sat back as Kelly Moore (#47) and Scott Chubbuck (#77) battled for the lead.  (Jamie Williams Photos)
Bates in victory lane.
Later on, it was Johnny Clark (#54)  who battled Bates later on.
Adam Bates' winning car.