There is an old adage that “newer is better,” but in the case of the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Model division, newcomers and veterans are “twice as nice.”
Perhaps more than any other touring division in the country, PASS South saw a fairly even break down of drivers, younger and older, competing at the top level. The average age of the top ten drivers in the 2010 final point standings was just over 26, with Jay Fogleman being the oldest at age 43 and Ryan Blaney being the youngest at age 16.
Blaney led the youth brigade with a breakout season in 2010. After competing in PASS South since 2008, Blaney finally recorded his much awaited for first victory in the season opening South Carolina Clash at the Dillon (SC) Motor Speedway. Blaney would lead the points for much of the year and snare two more victories in the Firecracker 125 at the Greenville-Pickens (SC) Speedway and the Daniel Boone Classic at the Newport (TN) Speedway. Although he came up 20 points short of winning the championship, Blaney served notice that he will be among the preseason favorites for the 2011 crown.
Teenagers and former Legends car standouts Steve Legendre, Devin Jones, and Kenzie Ruston each had moments during the 2010 season where their talents shined through in a PASS South Super Late Model. Legendre, under Jay Fogleman’s Shark Racing Development banner, started the season off with a third place finish in the South Carolina Clash. The Vermont native would go on to score four top ten finishes and finish ninth in points. Devin Jones, in his second season racing with PASS, finished eleventh in points on the strength of finishing in the top five twice and in the top ten seven times in just 12 starts. Kenzie Ruston made her debut with PASS in 2010, finishing twelfth in points with a season’s best finish of ninth in the Daniel Boone Classic.
Twenty-somethings Trey Mitchell and Jimmy Weller both impressed this season in their first full season racing with PASS. The Texas native Mitchell built on several impressive runs in 2009 to lead 89 laps and finish fifth in the final standings this year, with a best finish of fourth at the South Boston (VA) Speedway. Weller gradually improved throughout the season. He capped it all off with his first career PASS South win at South Boston after a thrilling duel with fellow Buckeye and teammate Ryan Blaney.
While youth was definitely served in 2010, old age and wisdom proved to be just a little better. The over 30 crowd racked up six wins this season, three each for Preston Peltier and Andy Loden. Peltier’s journey with PASS South goes back to 2006 when the series got its start. However, Peltier was not able to find victory lane until last year. Since then, Peltier has become PASS South’s winning-est driver taking 6 checkered flags and captured both the PASS National and PASS South championships in 2010. Although over 30, Loden’s road to the top of Super Late Model racing has been a bit different. He won three straight Late Model Stock championships at the legendary Hickory Motor Speedway from 2006-2008. This year, Loden came to PASS as a Super Late Model rookie. But, in the middle of the season, Loden rattled off an unprecedented three straight wins at Concord, Ace, and Orange County and along the way established himself as a championship contender. At season’s end, Loden finished third in points and became the 2010 PASS South Rookie-Of-The-Year.
At just 28 years of age, Justin Wakefield is a grizzled veteran of the PASS South Super Late Model wars. However, after coming into the 2010 season as a championship favorite, things went south quickly for the driver and teamed based out of Georgia. Despite a thrilling win in the Capital City Clash at the Wake County Speedway, all too often mechanical failures would sideline the 98 team. But, after battling back from another mechanical issue, Wakefield stormed through the field to win the prestigious Mason Dixon Meltdown and finish in the top ten in points for the third straight season. A win in Gresham Motorsports Park’s World Crown 300 let everyone see the strength of PASS and also put all on notice that Wakefield would be a contender once again in 2011.
PASS South’s oldest regular competitors Jay Fogleman and John Batten once again finished in the top ten in points as well as Tennessee veteran Heath Hindman. Although they were not able to get to victory lane this season all three will be back and loaded for bear to get those elusive checkered flags.
In 2010, both the youths and the veterans were well served. And, looking forward to next year, all of those drivers plus a strong crop of new talent, young and old alike, hope to make their mark when the 2011 season starts anew in March at Anderson.