Super Late Model Tour Kicks Off Their Season at Beech Ridge on April 21st
NAPLES, ME (April 12, 2007) – Over the past four years in PASS North Super Late Model racing, the championship fight has been a see-saw one. Ben Rowe won the championship in 2002 and 2003. Johnny Clark won it in 2004. Then Rowe came back to win another one. Last year, Clark nabbed his second one.
But while Ben and Johnny have been paying attention to each other, a whole new crop of championship contenders has stepped up to the plate, which should make the 2007 PASS North title fight a great one. That battle will kick off on April 21st, when the PASS North holds their season opener at Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.
“Things are going to be close,” said Johnny Clark. “I think this is going to be one of the best years that PASS has ever had.”
“Johnny, Cassius [Clark] and my father [Mike Rowe] are the three teams who are always there week in and week out,” said Ben Rowe. “But there will be other ones right there this year too.”
So just who might step up to the plate and contend this season? That list is a long one.
“Rick Martin is stepping up his program,” said Ben Rowe. “Richie Dearborn can be right there. You can’t count out [Jay] Cushman and [Trevor] Sanborn. You know that Trevor can drive a racecar and Jay’s got the equipment to win. They’ll be in the top three or four. There are four or five other teams out there that are just a click off and could be right there too. You just don’t know. Cassius took over last year like a ball of fire. Nobody thought they could catch him and come the end of the year, we started catching him.”
After winning five races in 2006, Cassius Clark is getting plenty of buzz about being a favorite for the title in many circles.
“I think that Cassius Clark is going to be our toughest competition of the year,” said Johnny Clark. “The amount of progress that he has shown in the last three or four years has been impressive. He’s always had the speed, but now he’s winning a ton of races. Fortunately for us last year, when he won a ton of races, he also had bad luck. That took him out of the running. But it’s not just about consistency on the PASS tour. You have to win races.”
But like Mike Rowe, Cassius Clark might only run a partial schedule of races up North. Even if he enters every event, points racing is not Cassius Clark’s style.
“I don’t even know,” said Cassius Clark, when asked about his championship hopes. “We might not even run all of the races. We just want to win races. Wherever we go, we just want to run up front. I don’t care about points, I want the wins.”
Travis Benjamin is another name that comes up often when looking at the PASS North championship picture. The luckless driver moved over to PASS from the NASCAR Busch North [now Busch East] Series a few years ago and has shown flashes of brilliance for several seasons. 2007 could be his breakthrough season.
“I think that we have a shot at it,” said Benjamin. “We need to eliminate the mistakes that we’ve made in the past. Last year, we had four races where we were running in the top three and we broke. Instead of finishing in the top five for those races, we finished around 20th. We have to get away from that. So we’ve stepped up our program pretty good. We need to step it up a lot to be with Mike, Benji, Johnny and those guys.
“We’ve got good equipment now and good people helping us. We’re still talking to a few more people about helping us. If we can get them, I’d be really excited. We’ve got good sponsors coming back and our budget is better than it has been in the past. Instead of waiting for stuff to break so that we could replace it, now we’ll be able to replace things sooner.”
Even Rookie of the Year candidate Trevor Sanborn, who ran a few races in 2006 with a best finish of second in the PASS 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, could be a dark horse for the title. He’ll drive the #29 Ford owned by Jay Cushman this season.
“I hope that we can do pretty well,” said Sanborn. “Jay’s got some awesome equipment. I feel confident that we can get the cars going well enough for some top-five finishes and some wins. We should be right there.”
So the odds are good for a first-timer champion. Then again, nothing is quite as motivating as the desire to repeat.
“We’d like to defend the title,” said Johnny Clark. “That’s always in the back of your mind, and we’d love to win back-to-back championships. We’d also like to be able to say that we won the championship in three of the last four years. We’re going for it this year.”
The PASS North competitors will battle for 150 green flags laps on Saturday, April 21st, at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Racing is scheduled to start at 3 pm. This race will kick off a season of excitement that stretches from Connecticut to Canada for the Super Late Model Series.