“We avoided a lot of junk tonight - that’s for sure,” said
Cabral. “We drove through the first wreck. I think they
put us back when we should have been fifth or sixth. I
never came to a stop, I just drove through it. Those other
guys were the yellow and I just slowed up to keep from
running over anybody and we ended up in the back. They put us back to around 18th.”
Cabral ended up 11th in the 150-lap feature.
“We came from the back two or three times,” said Cabral. “It’s hard once you get put back there. We went from dead last to the top ten twice. It’s a hard hole to dig yourself out of, that’s for sure.”
The car that Tracy Gordon exited from looked a lot different
than the one that he drove to victory at Lee earlier this
season. In the first PASS event of the season at the New
Hampshire track, Gordon won the race with a car that had
been involved in an early wreck and was missing several body panels.
This time, Gordon’s car was clean but he finished in second
“I’d rather be crashed up and finish first,” said Gordon.
Gordon has won at Lee before even entering a PASS race at
the track. In 2001, he started out the NASCAR Busch North
Series season by winning the season opener at the track.
“I’ve always liked this place,” said Gordon. “We won here
in the Busch car some time ago - I don’t even know when -
and maybe the laps in that helps in this car. I don’t know.”
tough on him.
“I’ll change suits and drink a little water,” said Clark. “We’ll be all set.”
One driver was looking to a second feature to salvage his day of competition.
“I hope that the next 150 laps are better than those 150,” said Ben Rowe after climbing from his PASS car that finished eighth at Lee.
Those 150 laps were indeed better for Rowe. The three drivers made in to the track in time for driver
introductions and Ben Rowe ended up winning the race. Mike Rowe and Johnny Clark rounded out the top three.
Speed 51 will have more from the Big Dawg 150 in this week's edition of Northern Exposure
GORDON’S CAR MUCH STRAIGHTER THAN LAST TIME AT LEE
PASS LEFTOVERS: LEE USA SPEEDWAY by Mike Twist
Restart Wreck Leads to Finger Pointing, Gordon Gets Out Undamaged
LATE RACE LOGJAM LEAVES UNHAPPY DRIVERS
With 32 laps to go, there was chaos in the PASS race at Lee. The race was coming out its fourth caution of the evening when a botched restart sent a pack of cars spinning in turn two.
Several top five and ten cars were involved including Johnny Clark, Cassius Clark, Mike Rowe, Larry Gelinas and Travis Khiel.
It appeared that the green flag never actually waved as the
field got up to speed. When the leaders made it into the
first corner, the yellow caution lights lit up. Some drivers apparently saw this and some didn’t - or did they?
“Everyone knew the yellow was out except for Mike Rowe,”
said Johnny Clark. “I find it really hard to know that he
didn’t know it was a false restart. He caught Cassius Clark in the rear and tried to wreck practically the whole field. I just think it’s a case of Mike being a veteran racer and figuring that’s a way he can pick up a few spots at the end of a race. I really honestly believe that he knew the
yellow was out. I’m disappointed and I never really talk
like this at the end of the race, but I’m not too happy.”
Rowe left the track immediately after the feature to catch a
plane to Unity, Maine for another race and was not available for comment.
Other drivers involved in the wreck were still scratching their heads after the race was over, trying to figure out why the incident occurred.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Cassius Clark. “I
HAMMOND HAS ANOTHER GOOD RUN
Walt Hammond has been on a roll in PASS lately. Last month, he collected a career best third-place finish at the Scotia Speed world (NS) event and on Sunday at Lee, he finished in the sixth position.
“Lately things have been coming around for us,” said Hammond. “Our qualifying program has gotten a lot better and that puts us up front with better track position. Today, the guys made a good call because this place is tough on bite. We kept tightening up and tightening up and survived for a good finish.”
A few recent laps at Lee might have helped to contribute to Hammond’s good run.
“This track is a lot like Canaan where I do have a lot of laps,” said Hammond. “It has a lot less bite. A couple weeks ago, I ran a Modified down here (in the True Value Modified Series) and led the feature for a bunch. That really helped us out. It was only 65-70 laps that we led, but it helped us get comfortable here. Any seat time helps you and those cars are quick like these cars. I’m really
starting to like this place here.”
CLARK’S RUN HINDERED BY RESTART WRECK
Cassius Clark looked to have a good finish in the cards before getting damaged in the late race start wreck. He ended up hanging on to still finish in the seventh position.
guess they threw the caution and never put the lights on. We got into the back of Tracy (Gordon) and someone got into the back of us and knocked the spoiler off.”
Most of those involved were able to continue and still ended up with top finishes. However, one driver was doen for the night because of the wreck.
“Someone jumped the restart,“ said Kheil. “What they told us that they would do this year is that if someone jumps the restart it will go green and the next lap around, they’ll wave the yellow. They know that when they keep the yellow out and don’t throw the green, they’ll pile up cars. Today for some reason they didn’t do that and about three or four of the top cars got taken out.”
The safest place to have been on this restart might have been in the back of the pack.
“All those guys up ahead just stacked up and drove into each other,” said Bobby Cabral who was running around the tenth position at the time. “I didn’t really see what happened and I stayed out of it.”
THREE PASS DRIVERS ATTEMPT A DOUBLE
Immediately after the race, there were three drivers who weren’t finished with their Sunday night of racing. Ben Rowe, Mike Rowe and Johnny Clark all left the track and boarded a place to Waterville, Maine. From there, a short car drive was made to the Unity Speedway for the running of the Little Dawg 150 NEALS Series Legacy car race.
This botched late race restart involved Cassius Clark (#8), Miek Rowe (#24), Johnny Clark (#54), Travis Khiel (#24k), Larry Gelinas (#37), David Avery (#10), Bobby Cabral (#55) and others. (PASS Photo)
The three PASS drivers belted into scale racecars for that
series’ marquee event - a 150 lapper with a purse of $3,500
“The Allison Legacy Tour is a great tour and we’re trying to
let people know how great that it is,” said Johnny Clark. “I’ll tell you what. We’ll have our hands full, trying to run with those competitors. I ran 100 laps of practice there yesterday and they’re very hard to be consistent in. You have to be a lot smoother in one of those than you do in a Pro Stock.”
Clark didn't think that another 150 laps of racing would be too
Tracy Gordon's car looked a little better after the race this time at Lee (below) than it did earlier this season after he won the race. (above). He would have rather a wrecked car and a checkered flag. (PASS Photos)
Mike Rowe before his first race of Sunday. Another 150 laps in another state were next. after Lee. (51 Photo)
“We were looking pretty good before that restart,” said
Cassius Clark. “We were running Johnny (Clark) pretty hot
for third there and then we just got banged up and loosen up pretty bad after that. I just held on.”
Clark has been in pursuit of his first career PASS victory this season and has been fast enough on multiple occasions to pull that off. However, his luck has been lacking. Clark feels that it won’t be long until that changes.
“We’ll be right there soon” said Clark. “The couple races
that we did finish, the car wasn’t running as good as it
usually does. Someday, we get the car going good and stay up there and show them how it’s done.”
Currently, Clark sits seventh in the PASS point standings. He won a pole position earlier this season at the Thompson Speedway (CT).
Cassius Clark watches the heat races from the top of his pit box. (51 Photo)
GELINAS HAS SOLID FINISH
Sneaking into the fourth spot at the conclusion of 150 laps was Larry Gelinas. The drivers of the #37 was not especially fast all day long, but his patience paid off in with a good finish.
“This kind of surprised me today,” said Gelinas. “We kind of missed the set-up. We tried some new stuff and it didn’t really work that great. We made a couple of pit stops and got it close. We were lucky and got it back up to fourth. All in all, we’re happy.”
Speed 51 asked Gelinas if he extensive experience at Lee in various divisions of racing helped to make up for a car that wasn’t quite as he would have liked it.
“I probably didn’t hurt,” said Gelinas. “If the car isn’t quite right, you can pick a certain groove here and it helps.”
TOP RUN ENDS EARLY FOR KHIEL
It looked like Travis Khiel might have a solid top five finish until he got caught up in the infamous restart wreck of lap 118.
“It was going pretty good there at the end of the race,” said Khiel. “We just started changing things a little bit and we dropped back. We got back up to seventh and then we had that funky restart. We got hit from behind and taken out. It put a hold in our radiator and that was the end of our day.”
TIRES DO HELLIWELL IN
What a difference one worn tire can make. Wayne Helliwell, Jr. led over half of the race, but a worn out right rear tire cost him in the end and he faded to a 10th place finish.
“The car was awesome at the beginning,” said Helliwell. “We were just out their cruising and trying not to wear out the tires. It was great, but about third quarters of the way through that right rear tire just gave up.
CABRAL COMES FROM BACK TWICE
Although he finished outside the top ten, it’s possible that nobody made more passes for position Sunday at Lee than Bobby Cabral.
EIGHTH AT LEE MAKES A BAD RACE FOR ROWE
For most drivers, an eighth place finish is a solid run. But not for Ben Rowe, who battled handling problems all race long at Lee.
“We were terrible,” said Ben Rowe. “About ten laps in, we were just way too loose. I was just kind of biding my time and riding out the cautions. We were hoping for a yellow at halfway and it didn’t come. We got one too late and I couldn’t get back up through.”
It’s rare for Rowe’s two-time defending champion team to struggle at the racetrack, but they have not hit their goals at Lee quite yet.
“We just missed it,” said Rowe. “Everytime we come here, we are too loose and we need to do our homework and catch back up to those guys.”
DIVERSE ENTRY LIST AT LEE
There were 34 cars entered for the Lee race, with half being either PASS regulars or near regulars and the other half being occasional racers with the tour or Saturday night drivers looking to make a touring division start.
Multiple time 350 Supermodified winner Louie Mechalides represented Lee along with Late Model regulars Scott Watts and Wayne Helliwell, Jr., the banner of Seekonk Speedway (MA) was carried by Vinnie Annarumo. David Avery came from White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) and Walter Sutcliff
towed up from the Thompson Speedway (CT) to enter the PASS race.
Six drivers did not qualify for the feature including Travis Benjamin, Annarumo, Sean Nolan and Sutcliff.
SMITH AT LEE WITH DIFFERENT CAR
Gary Smith was at Lee despite taking a wild ride in his #75 last week at the Canaan Speedway (NH). Smith’s regular car went flipping over the banking in the most recent PASS event and suffered heavy damage. For Lee, he borrowed a car from Carlton Robie and renumbered it as the #75.
Smith maintained his fourth place ranking in the point standings by finishing 18th at Lee.
Bobby Cabral helps his team push their #55 out to the starting line-up. (51 Photo)