The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) headed to Newport Speedway (TN) on Saturday, October 16th, for the “Mason-Dixon Meltdown” to close out the 2010 Super Late Model South and National championship series with both titles up for grabs. Heading into the night’s action, Ryan Blaney led Preston Peltier by a mere four points, while Peltier led Johnny Clark by 11 in the National Championship standings. Andy Loden set fast time, but it was Justin Wakefield taking the checkered flag first while Peltier took advantage of Blaney’s misfortune to win the South title as well as the National title.
“I don’t have any words for it,” said Peltier, the only South regular in series history to win the National title. “It is cool.”
31 drivers took to the track for qualifying. While many drivers wanted to claim the final fast time of the season, it was once again Loden on top of the charts with yet another track record, a 12.362 second lap around the Newport Speedway.
“The car is just really fast,” said Loden. “I have never really been good at qualifying until this year. I don’t know really what happened. We haven’t done anything different. We just have a fast car for qualifying now.”
Wakefield, Clark, Blaney, Trey Mitchell, Jay Fogleman, Ben Rowe, Heath Hindman, Kyle Bonsignore and Dylan Presnell rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.
11 cars lined up for the six transfer spots in the 15-lap last-chance race. Bradley McCaskill and PASS newcomer Blake Jones started side by side with Jones getting the jump on the start. On lap 10, a car spun in front of the leaders, collecting McCaskill and Scott Patton, taking them out of transfer positions. On the restart, Jimmy Weller and Trevor Sanborn, who were disqualified in post-qualifying inspection, rocketed to the top-two positions and held on up front to transfer into the feature, along with Jones, Kenzie Ruston, Ed Surette and Tim Pinion.
The top-10 redraw placed Mitchell and Loden on the front row, leading Wakefield, Clark, Fogleman, Blaney, Bonsignore, Hindman, Rowe, Presnell and the rest of the field to the green flag for 200 laps of racing. When the green flag dropped, Loden jumped out to the lead with Clark making his way to the second position.
As Wakefield passed Clark for the second position, the first yellow flew with an incident involving Jake Crum, Jody Lavender and Surette in turns one and two. All were able to continue.
On the restart, Wakefield jumped to the lead in front of Loden and Mitchell. As they looked to settle in, the second yellow came out on lap 25 as Jimmy Doyle and Ruston got together, which also involved Jones. Ruston and Jones were able to continue, but Doyle’s car suffered front end damage, ending his night.
After a lap on the track, Loden went back into the lead, but the third yellow came out on lap 28 for debris after Surette’s car appeared to lose power in front of Lavender, who made contact with Surette’s machine, dispersing debris on the track.
On the outside, Wakefield powered back to the lead when the field went back to green, bringing Blaney with him around Loden. At lap 58, Wakefield appeared to slip up in turn four, which put Blaney and Loden up in the top-two spots. A few laps later, at lap 65, Loden passed Blaney to reassume the top spot, and Mitchell went to third as Wakefield’s car started to drop off the pace a bit. Eventually Wakefield had to pit and lost a lap, but later would get the “lucky dog” and get back on the lead lap.
Shortly after, South points leader Blaney started showing sparks under the right side of his race car. He stayed on the track, but dropped back through the field, finally pitting on lap 84. He came back on the track a few laps later, but was a few laps off the lead lap, ending his bid for the South title.
“The right front went flat,” said Blaney. “We tried to ride it out as long as we could, but we couldn’t get a break.
“We had a good year. Hopefully we can come back next year and beat them.”
The fourth yellow flag flew on lap 93 for debris.
Loden held the lead on the restart until the competition caution, which came out on lap 115 so drivers could opt to change the two right side tires and make adjustments. Mitchell, Clark, Rowe and Peltier rounded out the top five at the break.
When the field went back green Loden held the lead with a hard-charging Clark on his back bumper until the yellow flew on lap 119 for a spin in turn three involving David Flynn and Weller. Both were able to continue.
Clark decided it was his time to lead, taking the top spot from Loden on the restart. Loden didn’t appear satisfied with running second though as he kept the pressure on Clark, retaking the lead at lap 126. Rowe was running third, but a few laps later, Peltier worked his way around Rowe for the third position.
The caution came out on lap 144 as Presnell appeared to have spun on his own down the backstretch, also collecting Tim Pinion. Both drivers were ok, but their machines were not as they both had to head to the pits.
The following restart once again had Clark leading the field as Loden and Peltier battled hard for the second spot, trading the position a few times until the yellow flew for debris at lap 158. During this yellow, Mitchell, who was running in the top five, pitted for adjustments, moving Wakefield back into the top five behind Clark, Loden, Peltier and Rowe.
Clark and Loden held the top-two spots when they restarted, but Wakefield made a bold move, moving up to the third spot before the yellow flew at lap 166 when Steve Legendre and Derek Kneeland got together in turn two.
Loden was able to snag the top spot once again when they went green, but the yellow flew on lap 178 for a single-car spin back in the pack.
Wakefield, who moved to second before that last yellow, worked his way to the lead shortly after the restart by Loden and held on to win the event.
“It was a hard-fought battle tonight,” said Wakefield. “We had a car to win this race, and I didn’t care what anyone else thought. We were going to win this and I wouldn’t let anyone get in my way.
“The bleeder came out of the left front caliper and I had no front brakes,” said Wakefield about his early-race issues. “We tried to stay on the lead lap as best we could. We got that break at the right time and were able to get it taken care of. We got back on the lead lap and started picking them off one at a time.
“I am glad to get a Georgia boy on that thing,” said Wakefield about the trophy. “We are in the South and that is the way it is supposed to be.”
Loden, Rowe, Peltier and Clark rounded out the top five. Peltier’s fourth-place finish earned him the PASS South Super Late Model and National Super Late Model titles.
“I can’t thank these guys on the crew enough,” said Peltier. “This Johnson Motorsports team was a big underdog coming into this year. That was our goal to win this championship, and we did it.
“Earlier in the season one of my car owners told me I was racing like a girl out there and that I needed to go back to the way I was driving, so I went out and got it done tonight.
“It means a lot. We are a low-buck team and struggle week in and week out. To get this is really special.”
For more information on the Pro All Stars Series, visit www.proallstarsseries.com.
Unofficial Results – Mason-Dixon Meltdown 200 – Newport (TN) Speedway – October 16 2010
1 Justin Wakefield 2 Andy Loden 3 Ben Rowe 4 Preston Peltier 5 Trevor Sanborn 6 Johnny Clark 7 Trey Mitchell 8 Heath Hindman 9 Jay Fogleman 10 John Batten 11 Jimmy Weller 12 Kenzie Ruston 13 Mart Nesbitt 14 Jake Crum 15 Jeff Myers 16 Ryan Blaney 17 Derek Kneeland 18 Steve Legendre 19 Kyle Bonsignore 20 Dylan Presnell 21 David Flynn 22 Tim Pinion 23 Jody Lavender 24 Lee Tissot 25 Blake Jones 26 Jimmy Doyle 27 Mike Slone 28 Ed Surrette 29 Terry Smith