Lawler starts PASS South championship charge with Easter Bunny triumph

Charlotte NC (March 13, 21008) After a successful debut season, the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Models were ready to kick off 2007 where it all started, the Hickory Motor Speedway. What greeted the crews and drivers was the coldest day in North Carolina in over 80 years. While 20 degree temperatures might be the norm for the contingent of drivers making the trek down from New England, it was anything but normal for those who are used to celebrating Easter in short sleeves. Despite the cold weather, 37 of the best Super Late Model drivers in the country were set to battle it out in the South’s first major race of the season.

Several contenders fell out early due to various problems. Fast qualifier Preston Peltier led early, but dropped out with a mechanical problem. Defending Easter Bunny 150 winner Mike Rowe soon fell off the pace and his #2 PT Watts machine was smashed by another competitor, knocking him from contention. That left 2006 rookie sensation Ryan Lawler and former PASS North Champions Ben Rowe and Johnny Clark to duke it out for the checkered flag. Lawler had a trick up his sleeve though. In the 2006 Over the Mountain 150 at Hickory, Lawler had motor problems and had to fall back on a crate engine with less horsepower. Thanks to the reduced horsepower, Lawler was able to conserve his tires and take the win in that race. Lawler and his Robert Hamke led team elected to bring that motor back for the Easter Bunny.

“I can’t get enough of this place,” said Lawler prior to the race. “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.”

A back-and-forth battle would wage between Lawler, Rowe, and Clark, but both Rowe and Clark would be plagued by flat American Racer tires. They both had plans on how to deal with Lawler when it came down to the checkered flag, but a long stretch of green flag racing late in the race ended their chances to try out those plans.

“It was pretty early on when we had our flat tire, so there were still a lot of cars on the track,” said Ben Rowe. “I knew that I could get to him [Lawler] on a restart, so I just backed off and saved my stuff, but that yellow never came.”

“I honestly thought that we would have been able to beat Lawler,” said Clark afterwards. “I was just trying to keep him in my sights. That tire didn’t help the situation, but hey, that’s racing.”

Lawler would hold on to take the victory in the 2nd Annual Easter Bunny 150 over Ben Rowe, Tim Nooner, Clark, and Dean Clattenburg.

“I knew that we were going to win some races, but I didn’t know we’d be this good here,” said the jubilant Texan in victory lane. “We qualified sixth and it was a little bit tough in qualifying, but at the end of the race I don’t think you can beat a crate motor when it comes to saving tires.”

In 2007, as it happened in 2006, the winner of the Easter Bunny 150 would go on to win the PASS South Super Late Model championship. Over 50 drivers are expected to make their way to “America’s Most Famous Short Track” to see if they can take the Easter Bunny and make a run for the championship.

The 3rd Annual Easter Bunny 150 is Saturday, March 22nd at the legendary Hickory Motor Speedway. Qualifying is at 1:30pm, racing at 3:00pm, and the Easter Bunny 150 is slated to begin at 6:00pm. The Easter Bunny 150 will be the first of the four race Champions Series for 2008. PASS Champions Series races will also be held July 19th at Orange County Speedway, September 21st at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, and October 18th at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

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