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Archive for November, 2006

Young Maine Native Battles Back from Penalty to Take $12,500 Payday

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

The young driver from Farmington, Maine, had taken the biggest victory of his career and a paycheck worth more than $12,500.

I actually didn’t even know I was racing for the win,” said Cassius. “I was kind of wondering why (Johnny Clark) was blocking me so bad. Then I came across the line and I wanted to see who was leading the thing, so I got on the radio and said, ‘Did I just win the race?’ and everyone was cheering.

“I was just going for it. I just wanted to get everything I could get and didn’t think about the win.”

Cassius took the lead after a fierce battle with (unrelated) Johnny Clark in the closing laps. Cassius set fast time in qualifying on Friday afternoon, so everyone knew that he was going to be a force throughout the weekend. Cassius started third after the Dash and was among the lead group throughout the race. On lap 194, however, Clark was sent to the rear of the field after making contact with the race leader, Michigan’s Brian Campbell. From there, he charged back up to the lead group, eventually engaging in and winning a heated battle with Johnny Clark for what was, even if Cassius did not know it at the time, the lead on lap 248.

“I just figured Ben (Rowe, who was up front most of the day but fell several laps down during the day and had just gotten back on the lead lap when the checkered flag flew) was way out in front. “I thought Johnny was blocking me because he knew I was faster. When I got by him there, he was chopping me down the backstretch, so I just gave him a little shot to let him know I was there. The next time I got a good run off two and got under him going down the backstretch. Then we just pulled away.”

Both Cassius and Johnny Clark are familiar with racing one another, as they have done it for the past several seasons on the PASS North tour. After securing the 2006 PASS North championship earlier in the year, Johnny was neither disappointed nor upset by the result of the race. Instead, he knew that he had been beaten fair and square by a good friend.

“If someone’s got to beat me, I want it to be Cassius,” said Johnny Clark. “He did a hell of a job, and he did exactly what he had to do. He got up to my bumper with two to go, and I was having a hard time keeping it on the bottom. I was really loose out, and he knew it. He got under me in the middle of the turn and wiggled me just enough. He knew what to do. He’s gotten really good at moving people and being really nice about it. He’s become a great racecar driver in the last couple years.”

Another Maine native, Mike Rowe, entered the Mason-Dixon Meltdown event 12 points ahead of Texas’ Ryan Lawler for the PASS South championship. Rowe ran up front most of the night, even leading on five different occasions, doing everything he could do to ensure the title. His efforts of a third-place finish in the Mason-Dixon Meltdown were more than enough, as Lawler was an early victim of a crash that ended his night prematurely, thus dashing the hopes of the 19-year-old for a title.

The Mason-Dixon Meltdown brought together the best Super Late Model drivers from the North and the South, but the Northerners swept the top-six finishing positions. Ben Rowe, Corey Williams, Johnny Clark, Brian Campbell, Cassius Clark and Mike Rowe all led laps, while the only Southerner to pace the field all race long was Florida’s Travis Kittleson. Kittleson had the best finishing position of the Southern drivers, as well, with a seventh-place result.

Behind Cassius Clark, Johnny Clark and Mike Rowe, Canadian Patrick Leperle, Massachusetts-native Rick Martin and Maine’s Ben Rowe completed the top-six sweep for the Northern drivers ahead of Kittleson. Jason Hogan, Scott Hantz and Dan McKeage rounded out the top-10.

Matt Hirschman held off fellow Northampton, Pennsylvania-native Eric Beers, James Civali, Burt Myers and Rusty Smith to win the Tour-Type Modified portion of the Mason-Dixon Meltdown. Earlier in the day at South Boston, Trevor Farbo finished inches ahead of Zach Stroupe to unofficially win the “Gamers’ Lounge 50” Pro Challenge Series event.

For more information on the Mason Dixon Meltdown, contact Matt Kentfield at (704) 455–2051 (ext: 5) and be sure to visit www.masondixonmeltdown.com.

Race Results

Mason-Dixon Meltdown

PASS South

November 25, 2006

South Boston Speedway, South Boston, VA

Finish Position, Start Position, Driver, Hometown

1. (3) Cassius Clark, Farmington, ME

2. (10) Johnny Clark, Farmingdale, ME

3. (1) Mike Rowe, Turner, ME

4. (35) Patrick Leperle, St. Denis, Quebec

5. (31) Rick Martin, Westport, MA

6. (2) Ben Rowe, Turner, ME

7. (6) Travis Kittleson, Merritt Island, FL

8. (7) Jason Hogan, Cleveland, GA

9. (16) Scott Hantz, Angola, IN

10. (25) Dan McKeage, Gorham, ME

11. (12) Brian Campbell, Grand Rapids, MI

12. (4) Corey Williams, Boothbay Harbor, ME

13. (14) Ryan Seig, Tucker, GA

14. (18) Tom McCann, Jr., Ocala, FL

15. (28) Chris Bowers, Washington, NC

16. (20) Alan Tardiff, Lyman, ME

17. (11) Clay Jones, Goldsboro, NC

18. (24) Brian Scott, Mooresville, NC

19. (9) Kyle Busch, Las Vegas, NV

20. (32) Chris Kennison, Oxford, ME

21. (13) Dean Clattenburg, Kannapolis, NC

22. (23) Travis Benjamin, Belfast, ME

23. (26) Trevor Sanborn, Parsonsfield, ME

24. (17) Justin Wakefield, Woodstock, GA

25. (31) Jeremie Whorff, Topsham, ME

26. (30) Chris Dunn, Raleigh, NC

27. (22) Tim Nooner, Salisbury, NC

28. (5) Ryan Lawler, Colleyville, TX

29. (15) Richie Dearborn, Hollis, ME

30. (19) Preston Peltier, Concord, NC

31. (27) Stan Meserve, Mooresville, NC

32. (8) J.C. Umscheid, Fort Worth, TX

33. (21) Boris Jurkovic, Joliet, IL

Caution Flags: 11

Lead Changes: 21 among 7 drivers

Lap Leaders: Ben Rowe 1-3, Corey Williams 4-6, Ben Rowe 7-25, Mike Rowe 26-44, Ben Rowe 45-47, Mike Rowe 48, Travis Kittleson 49-53, Mike Rowe 54, Kittleson 55-61, Mike Rowe 62-70, Kittleson 71-80, Mike Rowe 81-86, Kittleson 87-90, Mike Rowe 91-121, Cassius Clark 122-176, Brian Campbell 177-179, Ben Rowe 180-194, Johnny Clark 195-208, Travis Kittleson 209-233, Johnny Clark 234-248, Cassius Clark 249-250

Fast Qualifier: Cassius Clark, 15.110

Heat Winners: Kyle Busch, Johnny Clark, Clay Jones, Brian Campbell, Dean Clattenberg

Dash Winner: Mike Rowe

76 Year-Old Otto vs. Father Time at Sebring

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

The son of former NASCAR vice-president Ed Otto will closeout the season with a no-holds-barred brawl with Father Time at Sebring International Raceway on November 30-December 3. This marks the second time this season Otto has pulled his No. 17 UrAssist “Freedom to Go” Chevrolet Monte Carlo onto the historic 3.7-mile Sebring track in competition. He opened the season here with fifth and sixth-place finishes in the two races of the Historic Stock Car Division for Late Model Stock Cars. More importantly to Otto, his times in March were the quickest of his career on the central Florida road course. Recent testing shows he is bettering that pace now.

“Certainly at these speeds I will out race Father Time,” laughed Otto. “The challenge for these real heavy cars is getting it whoa-ed down at the end of the straights. Being mechanical brakes you really, really have to push down on the brake pedal. That is a challenge for an old man. Anyone can push down an accelerator. The nice thing is that I won’t be able to fool Father Time because I have a GPS speedometer mounted on my dashboard. A flip of the switch shows you your fastest time in miles per hour. My fastest time to date is 165 mph on the long backstretch here at Sebring. I hope to beat that this week.”

Edgar Otto makes up the elder portion of a father-son combination at Otto Motorsports. Wayne Otto (Watchung, NJ.) won both the Sebring rounds of the Historic Stock Car Division in March and currently leads the class championship. The Ottos are the only father-son pairing in the Historic Stock Car class. Edgar, who raced for the first time in the late 1990s, considers Sebring his home track and is well experienced on the famous race course. His No. 17 is joined under the Otto Motorsports awning by Wayne’s No. 144 1999 Chevy Lumina.

“My father threatened to disown me if I raced, so I waited until I was 67 to start,” recounted Otto. “My reflexes are still good enough to run pretty quick and to run hard. I am definitely not a back-marker. My kid outruns me but I am trying to close the gap. The rules don’t preclude anyone at any age to get out there and I am going to take advantage of that. I want to make some memories and get some good pictures.”

Otto will drive in two races beginning with a 30-minute Saturday qualifying race that will set the grid for the half-hour Sunday afternoon feature event. His goal is always to win but he knows that the younger generations might have a tenth of a second or two on him. Nonetheless, after being a part of NASCAR’s earliest years and being involved in nearly every aspect of the sport growing-up, Edgar Otto is eager to show that even though all of us will be caught one day, Father Time is going to have to learn to drive pretty fast to chase down this 76 year-old race driver.

“The thrill from an old man’s standpoint is getting those cars up to speed and competing,” enthused Otto. “It is better than a damn rollercoaster ride any time. I’ll tell you.”

Former WCS Staffer & Racer Jim Lehr Passes

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Services will be Wednesday at 1:00 PM at Schlabach Funeral Home in Shreve, OH with the Rev. Bill Lawson officiating. Burial will be at Newkirk Cemetery.

Friends may call Tuesday at the funeral home from 6:00 – 8:00 PM.

Jim was born March 25, 1948 in Wooster to Bill and Grace Lehr. He served in the U.S. Army including a stint in Vietnam.

For 31 years he worked for the East Ohio Gas Company and for 15 years for Wayne County. He also served as a Lakeville mail carrier.

He was a member of the Shreve United Methodist Church. Shreve American Legion Forest Post 67 and had served on the board of the Newkirk Cemetery.

After spending a number of years working at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, OH and Pennsboro Speedway in Pennsboro, WV Jim decided to become a race car driver. “I kept seeing how much fun those guys were having and I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to get out there and race myself,” Jim told an interviewer a number of years ago.

Jim drove a Street Stock and then moved up to a Limited Late Model and carried the #B-1 in memory of his late son, Barry. He had a successful racing career and soon became a crowd favorite at Wayne County Speedway and Lakeville Speedway. He also competed at Pennsboro Speedway.

Surviving are his lifelong partner Joan Lint, a son, Gary (Donna) Lehr; two granddaughters, three stepchildren, Rhonda (Clint) Coffman, Rick (Kalee) Lint and Ramonda (Matt) Wilson.

His parents, son Barry and a brother, Jeff, passed previously.

The family suggests contributions be made to the Hospice & Palliative Care of Greater Wayne County, 2525 Back Orrville Road, Wooster, OH 44691.

Young Texan Tangles With a Lapped Car

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

That’s why Ryan Lawler was actually a little bit down after ending a remarkable PASS South season this weekend following the final event of the year, the Mason-Dixon Meltdown. Even though he had never raced a single lap in a Super Late Model before the PASS South season started and he finished second in the standings, he was thinking about what could have been.

“It’s disappointing,” said Lawler who ended up finishing 28th in the Mason-Dixon Meltdown at South Boston Speedway (VA) on Saturday night. “I know it’s my rookie season in a Super Late Model, but I mean we had a chance to win the race. We even had a chance to win the championship, but a lapped car took that away from us.”

Disappointed in finishing second as a rookie? That’s right. If not for a little bit of bad luck in the early laps of the season’s final race, Lawler would have been fighting for the PASS South championship right down until the last laps of the season.

“I got stuck in behind a lapped car on the restart,” said Lawler. “I rode around behind him for about three laps and he was holding me up. I got passed by about three cars before I finally got cleared. I got down on the bottom and he plain and simple came down on me from three lanes up the track. He got turned around and he drove right into my right rear and turned me in the fence.”

But while the racer in Lawler wanted a little more from the season, he still knows what an impressive year it has been. Lawler won one PASS South event and earned six top-five finishes in eight races. He also won the pole at the Saturday of Speed at Lanier National Speedway.

“To come out of here second in points is still pretty good. The PASS South Series has a great group of drivers and to do what we did as rookies really shows something of this team and the people that make it up.”

One of those drivers, Maine’s racing legend Mike Rowe, was the man who beat Lawler for the title.

“I’ve said it time and time again; Mike’s an awesome guy. I enjoy racing with him. I wish we could’ve had a shot at him and this title, but that is just how things worked out.”

Just days after the race was over, Lawler is already looking forward to 2007 – when he plans to turn what could have been into what should be.

“This series is where I’ve gotten the most publicity this year. I’ll definitely be back next year. Hopefully we can win it all next year.”

Staropoli Takes Win

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Michael Pilla set fast time and was on the pole for the 100 lap event with no inversion to the field since there is no pill draw for a 100 lap feature. As the green was thrown, Pilla jumped to the lead followed by Dustin Skinner and Scott Reeves, returning from a very bad accident in Lakeland earlier this year, spun in turns 3 and 4 causing a total restart. Billy Bishop retires his truck at this time from overheating. On the second restart, it is Pilla, Reeves, Skinner, Patrick Staropoli and Ricky Moxley in the top five.

Reeves challenges Pilla for the lead but Pilla is having nothing to do with it. They go side-by-side putting on a great show for the fans. Reeves then finds himself being challenged by Staropoli for second as Staropoli proves to have the stronger truck taking second and putting Reeves third. Now it is Moxley who is challenged by Scott Bishop who takes over fifth as Moxley goes back to sixth.

Just as the action is hot and heavy, the caution comes out for Chad Akins and Tim Gersch. Gertsch is able to continue but Akins is done for the night. The green comes back out as Staropoli leads the way over Pilla, Skinner, Reeves, and Bishop. Lap 24 sees T.J. Chambers bring out the yellow as he spins on the backstretch. The field is realigned for the restart as Staropoli leads the way. Pilla finds his hands full as he goes side-by-side with Skinner for second. Skinner takes over second followed by Reeves, Bishop and Kevin Henry.

Staropoli and Skinner put on one heck of a show as they take turns taking the lead with each fighting back until lap 59 when the caution comes out for a spin in turns 1 and 2. Suddenly the truck of Phil Luizzo comes in full of smoke as he is done for the night. The green comes back out on lap 69 with Skinner on the point followed by Starpoli, Bishop, Reeves, and Pilla. Suddenly the truck of Kevin Henry stalls on the frontstretch with a broken trailing arm ending his good run.

Skinner holds the point on the restart with Staropoli after the lead also. Staropoli retakes the point but Skinner is charging hard, just alittle too hard, as he spins out Staropoli on lap 75. Caught up in the mess in turn 4 was the points leader George Morales but he is able to pit and fix his truck enough to continue. Staropoli is given back his spot as Skinner goes to the rear of the trucks on the lead lap.

On the restart it is Staropoli, Bishop, Reeves, Pilla, and Brandon Johnson. Pilla passes Reeves and takes over third as Reeves goes to fourth. Racing is now hot and heavy as the end is in sight but on lap 92, the yellow comes out again for a mass spin coming off turn 4 involving Jessica Murphy, Dwayne Barrus, and Caesar Bacerella. All are okay and the race goes back green but Bacerella slows on the backstretch and brings out the caution again. Barcella looks to be out of gas but has a bent fuel tube from the earlier spin causing his truck not to get fuel. So close to the end but not close enough as Barcella is pushed to his pit done for the night.

With only eight laps to go, Staropoli leads the way over Scott Bishop, Michael Pilla, Scott Reeves, and Brandon Johnson. Staropoli takes the win as George Morales takes the 2006 Pro Truck Championship.

In other action at New Smyrna, Dale Clouser shows the way for the Sportsman feature. Phil Luizzo had the pole but it was Dale Howard who took the point on the green followed by Mike Pletka, Dale Clouser, Luizzo, and John Nusbaum. Clouser works his way to the point and takes over followed by Howard, Nusbaum, Pletka, and Luizzo. Suddenly Pletka and Nusbaum get together with Nusbaum going into the turns 1 and 2 wall hard. Nusbaum is okay but done for the night.

On the restart, it is Clouser, Howard, Luizzo, Derrick Wood and Pletka. Luizzo passes Howard for second as Howard settles into thrd. Lap 15 sees the caution for Derrick Wood who has spun high in turns 3 and 4 but saved his car from hitting the wall A really good job indeed. Clouser continues to lead the way and takes the checkered over Phil Luizzo, Dale Howard, Mike Pletka, and the 2006 Orlando SpeedWorld Sportsman Champion Richard Hight.

Ron Dubeau had the pole for the Open Wheel Modified feature but it was the 2005 and 2006 Columbia Motorsports Park Modified Champion Jason Garver who showed the way on the green. Alan Bruns definitely gave it his best to pass Garver but Garver was having nothing to do with it. With no cautions, it was Jason Garver taking the checkered followed by Alan Bruns, Jeremy Fitch, Art Kunzeman, and Ron Dubeau.

It was Bobby Holley who took the last Super Stock win in the 2006 season at New Smyrna. Ed Barber had the early lead followed by Holley, Mike Amato, George Spears, and James Frisbie. Spears passes Amato for third as Frisbie follows Spears for fourth and Sean Bass takes over fifth as Amato slides back. Amato brings out the caution as he spins going down the frontstretch.

On the restart, it is Holley, Spears, Frisbie, Barber and Bass leading the way. Frisbie and Spears put on a show as they pass each other for second but in the end, Spears holds second. Frisbie gets real loose coming off 4 and looks to be on his way to the hard walls of New Smyrna but does a great job of saving the car. Holley takes the checkered followed by George Spears, James Frisbie, Ed Barber, and Sean Bass.

Young Drew Brannon had the pole for the Late Model feature and took the point on the lead followed by Charlie Vest, Alan Bruns, Brandon Evans, and Brian Bellaw. But on lap 1, Michael Weaver brings out the caution as he spins on the backstretch. The field is realigned as Branon shows the way over Vest, Bruns, Jamie Skinner, and Evnas.

Bruns passes Vest for second as Skinner follows thru for third and Vest settles into fourth. Going down the backstretch, Vest gets alittle too close to the wall dusting it and ending his night. Brannon holds the point on the restart followed by Skinner, Bruns, Brennan Palmiter, and Bellaw.

Skinner charges for the lead and takes it right at the start/finish line. Skinner goes to Victory Lane only to be told that he was penalized one spot for jumping the restart giving back the victory to Brannon.

Mini Stocks saw Pedie Allison and Steven Simpson give one of the best shows of the night as they went side-by-side for laps, never touching, and putting on a heck of a battle. In the end it was Simpson who took the checkered over Pedie Allison, Rex Christensen, Richie Laszlo, and Pug Puglisi.

Doug Wolf took the checkered in the Strictly Stock feature over Brent Bruner, Jody Roberts, Richard Barrenechea, and Skip Wager.

New Smyrna Speedway has come to a close for the 2006 season. All the officials and staff wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and see you in 2007 at New Smyrna Speedway.