51 Leftovers: PASS South Super Late Models at Hickory
Invaders Dominate as Series Regulars Falter
By Jason "Stix" Buckley and Kevin Streigle
ASA SAT Invaders Steal the Show at Hickory

When the ASA Southeast Asphalt tour bailed on their scheduled race last weekend, it left countless series competitors scrambling for a race to participate in. The Pro All Star Series was certainly an option that came to mind quickly, for many, as they traveled to the Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) for 150-laps of action Saturday. But they did more than participate; they dominated.

Jeff Choquette and Chase Elliott were the two front-running ASA SAT drivers, and at the end of the night, a hardcore battle to the checkered flag occurred between the two drivers as the rest of the field battled for second best to the “invaders” that showed up to race at Hickory.  Choquette had the advantage out front late in the race, but Elliott, after getting by Cassius Clark for second, was able to drive his #9 machine to the back bumper of Choquette’s #33 car, give him a slight tap to the rear, and take the victory.

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Cassius Clark Finally Has a Finish to be Proud Of

The 2009 PASS South Season hasn’t been kind to the 2008 PASS National Champion Cassius Clark.  After a 28th-place finish at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) in April, followed by a 22nd at Orange County Speedway (NC), then later a 25th at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (NC) and a 17th-place finish back at Hickory in July, his few times of being 11th and 6th at a few venues didn’t seem so bad.  However, Saturday Clark turned the corner on his season by finishing third at Hickory and being the first PASS regular to take the checkered flag.

“We have been struggling with this car all year long.  It is an old relic, really,” said Clark.  “We put a lot of hard work into it and it started to show off.

“We usually run well here (Hickory) and never have the results to show it.  I thought we had the car there.  I was trying to baby it.  Every time I could get to the front I could use my line and get a way a little bit.  I just couldn’t get by Jeff (Jeff Choquette) on the restarts.  We were working hard on him.  I think if I could have gotten in front of him I could have driven my own race and maybe stayed out in front of him a bit longer.  He was awesome and Elliott (race winner Chase Elliott) was awesome all night long; he was just saving his stuff there.  I don’t know if he would have gotten by me if the lapped car wouldn’t have messed me up there, but he is a great little driver.”

Corey Williams Goes From the Penthouse to the Outhouse

Just like Cassius Clark, Corey Williams has had a season to forget, and especially his races at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) this season.  One PASS South event after taking his first win of the season, the bad luck bit Williams once again as he finished 17th, well outside where he feels he should have.

“I don’t know what is going on,” said a dejected Williams.  “It seems to be the way this season has gone for me.  At Greenville we had a good car, then came here (Hickory) and sucked.  We went to Orange County and ran real good, then came here and sucked again.  We were running decent, came in and pitted, went back out - and the car was ok, nothing special – and the car just shut off.  It wrecked a bunch of cars.  I feel horrible that it happened.  There was nothing I could do when the motor shut off.  Next thing I knew I had cars going left and right, and that was the end of it.”

Parts Failure Drops Hindman Out of the Top Five in PASS South Points

Before the 150-lap PASS South event at Hickory, Heath Hindman was actually smiling and joking around with this team.  The racer seemed pretty loose and ready for a decent finish.  Unfortunately that smile didn’t last long as a parts failure dropped him to a 22nd-place finish and knocked him out of the top five in the series points chase.

“The chain on the sway bar broke,” said Hindman.  “I have had one thing after another of bad luck this year except at Orange County.  I don’t know what I can do to change it.  We hit a piece of lead yesterday, and that might have had something to do with it, but it was 70 laps in, so I don’t know.”

McCaskill Has Best PASS South Finish of 2009 at Hickory

Even though he has won in the NASCAR Pro Late Model Series at Concord Speedway (NC) this year, Bradley McCaskill hasn’t been able to finish better than 11th in the PASS South Series.  In fact, the last time he has had a top-five finish in the series was on August 30th, 2008, at Caraway Speedway (NC).  That changed Saturday as McCaskill was able to finish fourth at Hickory.

“It has been a year since I have finished up this high,” said McCaskill.  “I have always said that if we could run 150 clean laps, we could be strong at the end.  We got a couple lucky breaks there, but patience finally paid off right there at the end.

“It was extremely hard to be patient.  The thing I had going for me is the bone-stock Crate Motor.  That thing teaches you patience because you can’t go anywhere with it.  You just have to wait for everyone to back up to you, and we were there at the end.”

With his season turning around, McCaskill is ready to forge ahead and continue his good-luck streak.

“We had a win earlier this year at Concord, and ever since we put this crate motor in, we have been awesome.  We got a good finish here, so we are going to Kenly.”

Rowe Maintains Points Lead, Despite So-So Day

Usually Ben Rowe is a factor in the finish of a PASS South race, especially at Hickory Motor Speedway, but the current series points leader didn’t have quite the day he wanted.  Between a car that just didn’t want to drive right and a penalty for getting into another driver, Rowe was lucky to get a ninth-place finish out of the day and retain the series points lead.

“It started off good, but we were just bad, bad free,” said Rowe.  “I don’t know why.  I wasn’t that bad all day.  It got real bad there, then I got sent to the back for getting into (Ryan) Blaney.  I just dove it in there in three and he went around.  We were going to pit anyway.  We came back up and finished ninth.

“I wanted to win.  We do not come here for points, I want to win races.  This car goes, I know it does.  I want to get it up front for Gary (Crooks) and the guys.”

Top-Five Finish Greets Hickory Regular Andy Loden in PASS Debut

Even though the name Andy Loden isn’t known in the PASS South Super Late Model scene, it is well known at Hickory Motor Speedway.  Loden is a track regular at the historic North Carolina facility, racing Late Models at the track.  In his PASS South debut, he used the knowledge of his prior laps around the track to obtain a top-five finish.

“We were pretty good,” said Loden.  “I just rode, and then tried to go, but the car got too tight.  The stagger shrunk up too much, but the car was real good.  We are still learning.  We are now on bleeders, so that is a different game.  This is my home track, so I have an advantage here.  I think we were real good, but we just didn’t end up in victory lane.”

Trackside Now Updates

Relive the action as it happened all day by visiting the Speed51.com Trackside Now coverage of the PASS South "Over the Mountain 150" at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) by clicking here.

Chase Elliott in victory lane at Hickory. (51 Sports Photo)
Jeff Choquette almost won the PASS Hickory race, but finished second to Chase Elliott. (51 Sports Photo)
Jeff Choquette (left) was able to get under Cassius Clark (right) for position on the track.  (51 Sports Photo)
Corey Williams was smiling before the race, but after finishing way back in the field, he wasn't too happy.  (51 Sports Photo)
Bradley McCaskill was on his game Saturday night. (51 Sports Photo)
Ben Rowe didn't have the best of days, but he still is on top in the South points.  (51 Sports Photo)
Andy Loden's Super Late Model.  (51 Sports Photo)