Despite a record of two PASS South victories so far this season and perch upon the top of the points in that series, four-time PASS North champion Ben Rowe hasn't exactly had a season to write home about so far in his native PASS North series.
Through the first three events of the season, Rowe hadn't even recorded a single top five finish. But that all changed as Rowe won at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) on Saturday night.
There was a little bit of South in play at the race though…as Rowe's Richard Moody Racing team used the same car that has been winning down South in the WMMP event.
“It feels good, but this was with our South car,” said Rowe. “I wanted to win with our other car. This car has been good to us. But we'll take it.”
Rowe had plenty of competition for the victory at various stages of the race, but not all of those drivers made it to the finish.
Kelly Moore had the most memorable exit from the race. He started on the pole and led early. Eventually, he gave up the lead to Rowe and Travis Benjamin - but that was by design.
“The car was running real good and Travis was a little bit quicker on the top,” said Moore. “I just didn't want to torture the tires. I knew that Ben was coming, so I wanted to let Ben wear Travis down. I knew we had a real solid racecar. It was the best it was underneath me that it had been in a long, long time.”
Moore's race went south though on lap 111 when he tangled with a lapped car. That triggered a vicious wreck that Moore was happy to walk away from [click here for more on the wreck]. It was also one that ended both his race at White Mountain and the life of his Super Late Model.
“It was just unfortunate,” said Moore. “I had a little strategy. I wasn't going to push the car. I was going to settle into third and not let anyone by me. I had a few challenges there and that is when I ran a little harder than I wanted to, but I didn't want to go back further than third. That was my striking distance. I'm not saying that we would have won the race, but I was going to sit there, let the front two guys wear each other out and then I was going to run those last 25-30 laps.”
Even without Moore in the mix though, those final 25-30 laps were something memorable. Rowe and Benjamin duked it out for the lead. However, for the second straight race the two tangled with Benjamin getting the worse of it. Inside of 20 laps to go, he got pinched down low coming out of turn four and spun through the infield.
“When you have a car like I had tonight, it is just unreal,” said Benjamin. “I could put it anywhere that I wanted to. But that red flag [for Moore's wreck] hurt us. It cooled our tires off and Benji got by us on the next restart.
“I want to blame Benji, but with 10 or 15 laps to go you've got to pinch people off and that's what happened. I just need to start to get more aggressive - not to wreck people, but to let them know that I'm not going to be pinched down like that. Maybe it was my own fault. Actually, it was my fault because I tried to pinch the car down so I wouldn't get into him. Then around she went. So it was operator error and I'll take the blame.”
“I wanted to race him at the end. I think that we definitely had the car to race a good race,” said Rowe. “We were just biding our time and waiting on Travis. I knew that he was real good and I just didn't want anything to happen after last week. But we were running each other hard. I thought that we gave each other enough room and I don't know. I hope to hell that it wasn't my fault. I don't know how it could have been my fault because I was ahead of him. So I don't think that I could have hit him. I felt him on me and then he was gone. He was a little bit free off, so I was going to try and hold him down. I don't know if he got into me a little bit or what. I think that he just wanted to stay off me and around he went.”
But even with Benjamin out of the picture, Rowe didn't have a worry-free ride to the checkered flag. One final charge from Derek Ramstrom kept the race honest.
“I tried like hell to get him,” said Ramstrom. “I just couldn't get there.”
Ramstrom held on to second place with Richie Dearborn, Adam Bates and Chris Staples rounding out the top five.
Johnny Clark finished sixth and retained the PASS North point lead. The series next heads to Speedway 660 near Fredericton, New Brunswick on June 13th.