PASS South Leftovers: South Carolina Clash
Young Drivers, Old Drivers and Angry Drivers 
By Elgin Traylor
Rowe Takes Us Back to the Early Years of PASS

When the Pro All Stars Series was founded back in 2001, there was a young driver from Turner, Maine, that simplly dominated the tour.  Ben Rowe, in his famous yellow double zero, was the terror of the Super Late Model ranks in the northeast for many years.  Those who came down from the Northeast to watch the PASS South opener at the Dillon Motor Speedway swore they could see a pair of zeroes on Rowe’s car.  He was so dominant it reminded many people of the early years of PASS.

“Today was like those years,” said Rowe. “Today the car was so good. I just wanted to get to the front.   After four or five laps, I could just get out there and ride.  It takes a lot off of me when the car is that good.  When the crew does their job and gives me a fast car, it makes it a lot easier on me.”

For Rowe, this was his first all out victory in the south.  He did win the Mason Dixon Meltdown at Concord Speedway (NC) back in 2007, but he and several others say that one doesn’t really count because of the circumstances.  In that race, Rowe passed Corey Williams on the final lap when a yellow came out because of a car stopped in turn four. The rule in PASS is you race back to the line. 

“We leave our house to come down here and we are on these guys’ turf,” said Rowe.  “This is their turf and it’s tough.  To come down here and win races just shows how strong the team is.  It shows you how strong the whole north is.  I would like to see 10 or 12 of these guys come to New England on our turf and run with us.”

The victory makes you wonder if Rowe will win his fifth PASS North title and take down defending champion Johnny Clark.  Rowe has won titles in 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007.  Clark has won in 2004, 2006, 2008.  With it being and odd year, chances look good for Rowe.

“Johnny is good, he’s got good equipment and he’s a good driver,” said Rowe.  “I would like to see him come down here too.  Johnny built a new car halfway through the season and he won everything under the sun.  We haven’t physically built cars but we’ve cut everything out of these cars and started over.  It’s a lot of hard work putting them together this time of year but we have three of them that are ready to go.” 
 
Defending Champ has Off Day

Alex Haase will not be defending his 2008 PASS South Championship.  Instead, he will work on advancing his career to the next level.  He was on hand to race at Dillon though and led the early laps before sliding back through the field for a 14th place finish.

“We were running in the top three for the first 50 laps, but we just couldn’t get much in the long runs,” said Haase.  “I ended up getting a flat tire, that’s nothing new though, just a bad luck deal.”

Haase will now be turning his attention to the Camping World East Series.

Frustrating a Fultz

Jeff Fultz has been so close to victory lane in the PASS South Series so many times.  It’s only a matter of time before he does pull into victory lane.  Dillon could have been the place for that, but a mid race run-in with Preston Peltier left both drivers at the back of the pack.

“The #26 (Peltier) got up to me and I knew as soon as I got around that clown what would happen.  I went to go underneath Haase and he just drove up on the outside and slammed me all the way down the backstretch.  I don’t know how other people do it, but I don’t think that crap from anybody.  I don’t race that way, we come to win races, not bang each other around.”

Fultz had been battling in the top three prior to the incident.  He would recover to post a fourth place finish.

Blaney Starting to Shine

Ryan Blaney is already turning some heads early on in 2009.  The 14-year-old son of Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney, had his best career finish in the PASS series when he posted a third place run at Dillon.  The youngster got out of the car and was a little out of breath after the 150 laps in the warm South Carolina spring air. 

“It’s so hard to pass here, after a little bit, people just start parking it (in the corners),” said Blaney.   “You have to keep running on their butts until they make a mistake.  We ran really well and I’m happy.”

Blaney starts off the season strong with the intentions of running for points in the PASS South Series.  Blaney had done a lot of jumping around a year ago between some different series, but now it looks as if he has found a home with PASS.  The finish was a great motivator for the entire team. 

“I kind of feel like it’s a win coming from 17th to third,” said Blaney.  “We were running with and passing some good guys.  We are going to stay with the PASS.  We are going to try to run for points and this was a good start.”

Goodson Wins First PASS Truck Race

Hal Goodson had some trouble in his Super Late Model at Dillon Motor Speedway, but he put his name in the record books as the first ever PASS Late Model Truck winner earlier in the day.  It was not surprise to many as Goodson was the track truck champion at Dillon a year ago.

“I think we won 10 out of 12 over here last year so we’ve got a good truck,” said Goodson.  “I have a lot of laps on here and I had to do a few a changes going from the BF Goodrich to the American Racers.  These American Racers are real good tires though.  They didn’t fall off a bit.  If you can use them with those straight rail cars then you know they are good tires.” 

Goodson plans on taking both his truck and his Super Late Model to Hickory on April 11th.  Hopefully he’ll have a better run.

Wakefield Starts Year with a Second

To no surprise, right out of the gate Justin Wakefield is already showing some muscle early on in 2009.  After scoring a pair of win in 2008 and finishing seventh in points, Wakefield is ready to be a title contender. 

“I know I got into Ben (Rowe) a few times today,” said Wakefield. “My eyes were in my mirror when I jacked him up. I went over and apologized for that. It was a great race.  A second place finish to start the year is great.  We’re just going to shoot for a couple of wins this year and maybe a championship.”

Wakefield was the winner at Dillon a year ago when the PASS tour came to the South Carolina track. 

“I like this track a lot,” added Wakefield.  “We added a few more spring rubbers to the right rear from the last time we were here, but we should have just put it exactly how it was.  We tried to make it a little faster and get a little bit ahead of the game.  Ben (Rowe) got us this week but hopefully he will come down and race with us a little more.”

Wauters Has Career Best

Spencer Wauters has had a tough run in Super Late Model competition.  2008 was a year to forget as he failed to post a top five finish in nine starts.  2009 is already off and rolling in the right direction as Wauters came home a career best fifth at Dillon.

“It’s indescribable for me with the bad luck that I had all of last year,” said Wauters.  “It’s just amazing. It’s a lot easier to drive the car and it handles a lot better (this year).  Overall, I just got a lot better at racing I guess.”

Wauters will look to keep his hot streak at Hickory on April 11th. 

Jones Takes a Mangled Car Home in Seventh

Late Model regular Clay Jones had some trouble at Dillon, but even with an oil leak, a torn up racecar and the aid of some duck tape he managed to post a solid top 10 finish. 

“After qualifying we came in and it was just spraying oil everywhere,” said Jones.  “We busted a seal in the front of the motor so we didn’t make the autograph session.  We had to go to the parts store and find a seal and the guys got it back together.  I can’t say enough about these guys.  When we got in a wreck down there, we came in and they fixed everything.  We had another problem 20 laps into the race and I came in and they fixed that.  My guys have been working wide open all day so I have to give it all to them.”

Jones is one of those hit or miss races who runs on a tight budget and doesn’t have the opportunity to travel as much as other teams.  However, they are going to give it a try here in 2009.

“This year it is hard because the economy is bad,” said Jones.  “Right now we’re just going to go to the ones we can make.  We’re going try to make the first five and see where we are in points after that, then base that on whether we are going to run the rest or not.”
Ben Rowe working turn four. (51 Sports Photo)
Rowe in victory lane.  (51 Sports Photo)
Alex Haase was the 2008 PASS South Champion. (51 Sports Photo)
Ryan Blaney was third at Dillon.  (51 Sports Photo)
Hal Goodson won the first PASS Truck races. (51 Sports Photo)
Justin Wakefield is going to be a serious contender for the PASS South crown. (51 Sports Photo)
Spencer Wauters had a career best fifth at Dillon. (51 Sports Photo)
Clay Jones made the best out of a crazy day. (51 Sports Photo)