CHARLOTTE, NC (March 10) – The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Models begin their biggest season yet with the 4th Annual South Carolina Clash this weekend at the Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, SC. In addition to the 150 lap main event for the PASS South cars the nation’s newest touring series, the PASS Late Model Trucks, will also race for 75 laps on Saturday afternoon.
The South Carolina Clash joins other premier events such as the Easter Bunny 150 and the Mason Dixon Meltdown as one of the most storied races in PASS South history. The first South Carolina Clash was held in 2006 at the Florence Motor Speedway. This race was the first PASS South event for local hero Hal Goodson and would see an epic battle between veterans Freddie Query and Mike Rowe and up and coming superstar Charlie Bradberry. The three drivers traded the lead back and forth while, at the same time, trading a little paint. The race saw an extreme amount of attrition with only five cars running at the checkered flag. Due to the number of caution laps that were run, fuel became a concern and Bradberry would relinquish the lead late to pit for fuel under caution. The move paid off after Rowe’s car burped while running low on fuel allowing Bradberry to move around and hold off Query for the win. Sadly, this would be Bradberry’s final Super Late Model win as he would lose his life in a traffic accident just a few months later.
The second South Carolina Clash would see the PASS South Super Late Models move to the upstate of South Carolina and the Anderson Motor Speedway in 2007. After being rained out on Saturday night, the Clash would be contested under the hot South Carolina sun of a Sunday afternoon in June. This, coupled with an abrasive track surface, made for an extremely slippery track for the high horse powered cars of PASS South. This played right into the hands of Ryan Lawler. Lawler was coming off a win in the season opening Easter Bunny 150 and was competing with a crate engine under the hood of his Ford. The crate engine was down about 200 horsepower from its built counterparts and was perfect for the conditions facing Lawler and his competitors. Lawler held off former track champion Gary Greenwood and Alabama standout Johnny Brazier for his second straight win. The phenom from Texas would go on to win the 2007 PASS South championship. Perhaps what is best remembered about the 2007 South Carolina Clash is the battle between Jason Hogan and Ben Rowe. Both drivers had achieved short track stardom, Hogan in the South and Rowe in New England, and thanks to PASS they had a chance to compete against one another. Hogan and Rowe waged a great late race battle for fourth that came right down to bending some sheet metal at the checkered flag. Although Hogan took the position, his car was a mangled mess against the front stretch wall which led to a heated discussion at the finish line. The two veterans still disagree today as to who was at fault for the late race fireworks.
Last year’s South Carolina Clash returned to the Pee Dee Region for a first time visit to the Dillon Motor Speedway. In just its second year of operation after being resurrected by former driver Ron Barfield, Dillon had established itself as one of the South’s premier short tracks. It had also gained a reputation for being tough, with progressive banking and turns three and four being quite a bit more narrow than turns one and two. For the second year in-a-row, racing was rained out on Saturday and would be held on a hot August afternoon that saw track temperatures soar to well over 100 degrees. Short track veteran Jay Fogleman was making his debut with the PASS South Series and made his presence felt by taking the lead after points contender Alex Haase had a tire problem on a restart. Fogleman’s lead was short lived, though, as fast qualifier Justin Wakefield sped to the point and won handily over Alex Fleming, also scoring his best career finish. Wakefield’s win was his first in PASS South competition.
This year’s South Carolina Clash is unique for three reasons. First, it is the first South Carolina Clash to be contested in the spring instead of the summer. It is also the first time the race will be returning to a speedway that has hosted the event before. And, finally, this will mark the first time the PASS South season opener has been held anywhere other than the Hickory Motor Speedway.
Drivers from Florida to Maine have filed entries for the 2009 South Carolina Clash. Four-time PASS North champion Ben Rowe and PASS North contender D.J. Shaw will both be making the long trek from Maine. Floridian David Pollen, Jr. will be heading the opposite direction up Interstate 95 to make his first PASS South start. Veteran Hal Goodson returns to the series at Dillon, where he is the defending track champion in the Seneca Supertruck division. 2008 PASS South Champion Alex Haase will be back in the Kyle Busch Foundation Toyota along with title contenders Justin Wakefield, Mark Gibson, and Heath Hindman. North Carolina veterans will be well represented by Big Jim Kelley, Preston Peltier, Bradley McCaskill, and Alex Fleming, along with talented rookies Ryan Blaney and Devin Jones.
There has also been increased interest in this year’s race thanks to the debut of the PASS Late Model Truck division. The PASS Late Model Trucks will join the PASS South Super Late Models a total of ten times in 2009 starting this weekend with the South Carolina Clash. Hal Goodson and Mark Brooks will be doing double duty racing both the Super Late Models and the Trucks this weekend. Many of Dillon Motor Speedway’s Seneca Supertruck regulars are expected to try and defend their home turf from the PASS Late Model Truck drivers. Among those expected are defending Pro Challenge National Champion Clint King, John Whaley, Jamie Turner, Marty Griggs and many, many more.
Action kicks off on Friday, March 13th with gates opening at 1 PM and practice for both PASS divisions from 2 PM to 6PM. On Saturday, March 14th, practice will be from 11 AM to 1:30 PM, qualifying will be at 2:30 PM, and racing will start at 3 PM. Dillon Motor Speedway is located on SC Highway 9 just off Interstate 95 exit 193. For more information go to dillonmotorspeedway.com or racewithpass.com.