Active ImageLawler Kicks Some Easter Bunny Tail in PASS South Season Opener
Crate Engine Beats Others at Hickory Once Again

HICKORY, NC (April 9, 2007) – On Easter weekend 2006, there were a few things that debuted at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) – mainly the PASS South Super Late Model Series and Ryan Lawler’s full-sized stock car racing career. 

One year later, both were alive and well for the second running of the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway. The 2007 PASS South season opener attracted 37 teams, but none of those entries could outperform the number-31 of Lawler, who led the final 68 laps to score the victory over Ben Rowe, Tim Nooner, Johnny Clark and Dean Clattenburg.

Lawler, who turns 20 years old on Monday, is quickly becoming the young prince of Hickory. The Texan also won last August’s PASS South event there.

“I knew that we were going to win some races, but I didn’t know we’d be this good here,” said Lawler. “I came here last year and ran fifth in my first Super Late Model race. Then we came back for the second Hickory race and won that. Now, we’ve come back and won again.

“I can’t get enough of this place. It’s my kind of racetrack. It’s worn out, it’s fun and you’ve got to get up on the wheel. I like that. We’re pretty pumped up about winning, especially at a place like this with so much history.”

Lawler’s victory might have looked easy, and his margin of victory might have seemed comfortable, but he did face a number of worthy adversaries during the evening. Fast qualifier Preston Peltier led early, but dropped out of the race with a mechanical problem. Defending Easter Bunny 150 winner and PASS South champion Mike Rowe fell off the pace early and then his number-2 car was run over by another competitor after slowing on the backstretch. PASS North regulars Ben Rowe and Johnny Clark also led laps, but had flat tires.

Both Clark and Ben Rowe were able to come back to finish in the top five. They both had plans on how to contend with Lawler for the victory, but a long stretch of green-flag racing late in the event ended their chances to try out those plans. Rowe had to settle for a second-place finish.

“It was early on when we had our flat tire, so there were still a lot of cars on the track,” said Ben Rowe. “So we just had to work our way up through. The car was good. It was real good at the end but not as good as the number-31 [Lawler]. I got to him once, and I could see him; that was with 80 laps to go. I knew that I could get him on a restart, so I just backed off and saved my stuff, but that yellow never came. It was just one of those deals.

“The only way that we ever would have had a shot at the 31 would be a green, white, checkered finish or maybe a restart with five laps to go. I think that I could get out front and hold him off for a few laps. I saw that on the last restart when Johnny [Clark] got by him for four or five laps. I probably could have done that by getting a jump on him, but after about four or five laps there was no stopping him.”

The long run at the end also hurt Clark, who was having a tire go flat late in the event. The 2006 PASS North champion ended up finishing fourth.

“I honestly thought that we would have been able to beat Lawler,” said Clark. “If we had a restart with 10 laps to go, he would have been mine. I was just trying to keep him in my sights. That tire didn’t help the situation, but hey, we’re going home fourth with a car that’s in one piece.”

The PASS rulebook allows teams to use several different engine and chassis combinations to compete in the series. Lawler’s winning car was powered by an ASA-style crate engine. He enjoys racing in a series where the rulebook sets up a level playing field, although he also believes that his combination was definitely the way to go at Hickory.

“They have a great rules package – they absolutely do,” said Lawler. “This car worked for us. We qualified sixth, and it was a little bit tough for qualifying, but at the end of the race I don’t think that you can beat a crate motor when it comes to saving tires. That’s true at this place at least, since it’s a tough old racetrack.”

Meanwhile, runner-up Rowe was pleased with the level of competition on the PASS South tour.

“These guys race hard down here,” said Rowe, whose team is based in Maine. “They’re fun to run with. They beat, bang and knock you out of the way, but they don’t wreck you. That’s fun. We’ll drive 18 hours for that.”

The PASS South feature wasn’t the only racing action during the Easter Bunny 150 weekend.

In the 50-lap Aaron’s Pro Challenge Series event, Kyle Mitchell continued his hot streak in series’ competition by earning a thrilling victory. The lead swapped hands numerous times in the Pro Challenge event, but Mitchell was able to take advantage late in the race to beat Devon Haun and Dean McIntyre to the checkered flag.

Nicholas Pope took the victory in a hard-fought Allison Legacy Series 50-lap feature. Pope had to hold off Michael Cooper for the victory, as the two battled door-to-door on the final lap.

Bobby Wallace’s “Off Duty” car took the dominating victory in the 25-lap Redneck Racing Series feature. Wallace took the lead early and had to fight his way through lapped traffic in order to hold off Dave Knight’s “Tow Mater” machine for the win.

The PASS South Super Late Models return to action on June 2nd at Anderson Motor Speedway (SC).



Hickory Motor Speedway

Hickory NC

April 7, 2007

150 Laps

1. Ryan Lawler

2. Ben Rowe

3. Tim Nooner

4. Johnny Clark

5. Dean Clattenburg

6. Heath Hindman

7. Dale Shaw

8. John Batten

9. Chris Dunn

10. Shane Riffel

11. Derek Ramstrom

12. Corey Williams

13. Joe Mattress

14. Allen Gordon

15. Tab Boyd

16. Chad Martain

17. Preston Peltier

18. Brad Bischoff

19. Greg Boone

20. Cassius Clark

21. Randy Gentry

22. Brian Scott

23. Alex Fleming

24. Rob Stevens

25. Mark Reedy

26. Mike Rowe

27. Mark Gibson

28. Larry Pollard

Lead Changes: 9 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders: Preston Peltier 1-8, Ben Rowe 9-11, Peltier 12, Rowe 13-18, Peltier 19-26, Ryan Lawler 27-62, Johnny Clark 63-67, Lawler 68-76, Clark 77-81, Lawler 82-150

Fast Qualifier: Preston Peltier

Dash Winner: Ben Rowe

Heat Winners: Allen Gordon, Chris Dunn, Mark Gibson

Consi Winner: Mark Reedy