CHARLOTTE, NC (September 22) – In order to become a championship contender, you first have to race well and hopefully win a race or two along the way.  Well for the drivers in contention for the 2008 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Model championship that is true, with a few notable exceptions.  In particular, the last two races.  At both the Caraway (NC) Speedway and the Newport (TN) Speedway, the championship chasers have been eliminated due to a myriad of problems.

Perhaps the hardest hit driver in PASS South points has been the point leader Corey Williams…literally.  Williams has been involved in hard crashes at Caraway and at Newport.  And, Williams was challenging for the lead late in both races when the accidents have occurred.  It’s been a tough month, full of late nights and lots of work for Williams and his underfinanced team.  With the Over The Mountain 150 on the horizon this weekend at the Hickory Motor Speedway, Williams looks to get back and stretch his points lead at the site of his only 2008 win.
Alex Haase comes to Hickory second in points and trailing Williams by only 24 points.  However, Haase probably would be leading the points had he not his own share of problems.  Over the last three races, Haase’s Kyle Busch Foundation Toyota has suffered flat tires at Dillon and Newport while in a position to have at least a top three finish in both of those races.  Haase comes to Hickory in a much different position this weekend than he did for the Easter Bunny 150 back in April.  In April, Haase finished 21st after being involved in a couple of different incidents.  In that first race at Hickory, Haase was only competing in his second PASS South event and now has two wins heading back there on Saturday.
The last month for Perry Brown has seen a mix of adversity and a sense of triumph.  First, the adversity.  On lap one of the Piedmont Pride 125 at Caraway, Brown slammed his Ford hard into the turn two wall, nearly sending the machine onto its lid.  The car was almost destroyed and Brown finished in 22nd.  The Floridian and his team spent all week in North Carolina, burning the midnight oil, in an effort to get the machine fixed in the short week leading up to the Daniel Boone Classic at Newport.  After struggling through qualifying and the early part of the race, Brown was able to get his problems corrected and managed an eighth place finish.  With all the ups and downs he has experienced, Brown is still third in PASS South points, 36 points out of the lead.
Mark Gibson and Heath Hindman have had their own opportunities to move up within the top five only to have their hopes destroyed.  At Caraway, Gibson had the best run of his PASS South career leading 99 laps, sometimes as far ahead as a straightaway over his nearest competitor.  Gibson would lose the lead to Haase on a late restart and was then sent to the back of the field by PASS officials after contact with Haase sent him spinning.  Still, Gibson rallied to a strong fourth place finish.  Gibson’s hopes for a repeat performance were dashed the following week at Newport due to a blown engine in practice.  After starting Jason Grant’s machine to get valuable PASS South points, Gibson finished with a disappointing 15th place finish.
Defending Over The Mountain 150 winner Heath Hindman was one of the fastest cars in practice at Caraway and Newport but had less than expected finishes in both races.  A mechanical problem knocked Hindman out early at Caraway sending him back to Tennessee with a 20th place finish.  At Newport, Hindman blistered the field in qualifying and seemed to have the car to beat.  A late race skirmish, a wrecked race car, and an upsetting 12th place finish were all Hindman was left with leaving Newport.
Justin Wakefield appeared to have the hot hand with back to back wins at Dillon and Caraway, but an early accident at Newport has slowed Wakefield’s momentum.  Despite that setback, Wakefield should rebound and be hard to contend with heading to Hickory.
All of the top contenders have had their moments in the sun in 2008, but the Hickory Motor Speedway will have a list of its own new challenges for them this weekend.  The real Super Late Models of the PASS South series will use every groove imaginable around the .363 mile stock car racing icon.  Over the years, it has been common place to see the PASS South Super Late Models use both the bottom line and the high line and there is no clear answer to which groove is really the best.  And the championship contenders are not the only drivers looking for a win at the Hickory Motor Speedway.  Alex Fleming, John Batten, Tim Pinion, Bradley McCaskill, John Stancill, and Brian Royalty should all be contenders in the Over The Mountain 150.  Stancill finished third in the Easter Bunny 150 and returns after a few races off in PASS South.  Royalty brought out a brand new engine and took it to a fourth place finish at Newport.  All the PASS South regulars will also have to battle a full field of Super Late Model contenders looking to get into Hickory’s hallowed victory lane.
Real Super Late Model action returns to Hickory this weekend as the PASS South Super Late Models return for the 3rd Annual Over The Mountain 150.  It all starts on Friday, September 26th at Hickory Motor Speedway for the PASS South Super Late Models with practice from 4 PM to 7 PM.  On Saturday, September 27th, pit gates will open at 12:30 PM, qualifying will be at 6 PM, with racing starting at 7 PM.