NAPLES ME (March 17) Just five weeks remain until PASS North kicks off its' ninth season under the guidance of series President Tom Mayberry. The fastest cars and short track stars in the Northeast make the drive to Speedway 95 in Hermon, Maine on Sunday, April 19th with a full head of steam after a 2008 season that saw break through winners and a torrid battle for the series championship.
As far as excitement goes there is no more competitive racing than when the PASS super late models come to town. PASS is known for its' photo finishes and side by side racing throughout the field. The competition is so keen that in 2008, the top six drivers were separated by just seventy-two points in the final standings. Johnny Clark edged out Ben Rowe by a mere ten points for his third title, 2593 to 2583. Just sixteen points back was Travis Benjamin with 2577. Benjamin sat atop the standings for a good part of the season before slipping back to third in the final rundown. Hard charging youngster, Adam Bates came on strong in 2008 and secured the fourth position with 2571 points. Rounding out the top six in points contention were DJ Shaw, 2539 points, and Cassius Clark with 2521 points.
Three time and defending Series champion Johnny Clark, is all set to defend his title against one of the most talented field of racers in the Northeast. Clark, who collected four big wins in 2008, is prepared to take on all challengers in 2009 including the likes of four- time P.A.S.S. Super Late Model Series champion Ben Rowe. Clark had a dominant car in many of the races in 2008, leading 469 laps, more than double the amount of his nearest competitor Cassius Clark. Johnny Clark, who is noted for his consistency, and bonsai charges to the front of the pack, earned eleven top ten and eight top five finishes to go along with his four wins in the fourteen events in route to his third Series title. Four time champion Ben Rowe will likely be searching out one for the thumb this year, as he try to dethrone Johnny Clark and capture a fifth series title. Rowe had a pair of race wins in 2008, and his consistency led him to the runner-up spot in the final standings. He garnered eleven top ten, and nine top five finishes along the way. Morrill, Maine's Travis Benjamin is also set to challenge Clark for the title in 2009. Benjamin grabbed a big win last season at Scotia Speedworld, and almost pulled off the upset, falling just sixteen points short of a championship. Benjamin ran off nine consecutive top ten finishes to start the season, and ended up with twelve for the year.
There is a new generation of drivers all set to challenge for the championship in 2009. The young guns are poised and confident that they can now run at the front of the pack, pick up some wins, and pull of a championship. The big three, Adam Bates, DJ Shaw and Derek Ramstrom all showed the veterans that they have what it takes to be competitive at every event. Leading the way in 2009 will be Warner, New Hampshire's, Adam Bates, the 2008 PASS North most improved driver. Bates got stronger and stronger as the season progressed in 2008, winning a pair of events and with eleven top ten and eight top five runs. Look for Bates to be a contender for the 2009 title. Center Conway, New Hampshire speedster DJ Shaw claimed the 2008 PASS super late model Rookie of the Year award plus the youngster captured two super late model wins. The talented driver is following in the footsteps of his dad, noted car builder and racer Dale Shaw, and he too has aspirations of unseating Clark for the championship. The third of the young lions is Derek Ramstrom, from West Boylston, Massachusetts. Derek also picked up a win, and was competitive all season long. Keep your eye on this group as one of these drivers could end up being crowned the 2009 PASS Super Late Model champion.
Other notable drivers that certainly will create waves in 2009 include Kelly Moore, Gary Smith, Richie Dearborn, Donnie Whitten and Scott Chubbuck. These names and a whole lot more will once again make the PASS North Super Late Models one of the premiere traveling organizations in the Northeast. Last season, one hundred-ten different drivers competed at the various venues. With this year's events including a first ever run at the "Cement Palace", Seekonk Speedway and the return to Speedway 660 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, Lee USA Speedway and Canaan Fair Speedway, you can rest assured that those numbers could easily be surpassed.