Five heat races highlight first ever night racing action at North Wilkesboro Speedway

With the top-15 drivers locked in to the show after qualifying earlier in the evening for the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South presented by JE Pistons and Roush Yates Performance Parts “THE RACE” on Friday, April 8th, the focus shifted to the five heat races to lock in 16th – 30th with the first-ever races under the lights at North Wilkesboro Speedway (NC). While Patrick Laperle, Ross Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Jeff Choquette and Preston Peltier went to victory lane in the five 25-lap heat races, a total of 15 heat-race drivers added their names to the already-qualified list , bringing the locked in total to 30 for Saturday’s 300-lap event.

Heat one had Laperle and Joey Coulter on the front row, but immediately went under yellow as a few cars had issues in the back of the field in turn one. Shortly after the restart, the yellow flew again for another issue in turn four.

On the second restart Heath Hindman, who was on the outside of Laperle, took the lead with Laperle and Jody Lavender in second and third. A few laps later, Laperle made his move back to the lead with Lavender coming with him, sending Hindman back to third.

Laperle and Lavender checked out with Laperle taking the checkered flag first. Lavender finished second with third going to Hindman.

“When I saw I lost 15th place (the last locked in time trial position) by four thousands, I said ‘no man.’ I needed to win the heat race,” said Laperle. “The 25 laps seemed like 50 to me. With my crate engine on restarts against the guys with the big engines I am going to have to work a lot tomorrow; that is for sure.”

Coulter and Ben Rowe rounded out the top five.

The second heat race had Wisconsin-natives Kenseth and Rebecca Kasten on the front row. Kenseth got out to the lead early with Kasten and Corey Williams running in the second and third spots.

The race ran under green for the majority of the event until Keith Oliver spun in turn two with just a handful of laps remaining. On the restart, Kasten and Kenseth raced hard for the top spot with Kasten getting the early edge on the outside, but Kenseth retook the lead with just a few laps to go, driving on to win the second heat race. Kasten crossed the line second with Williams taking the third and final transfer spot in this heat.

“I was pretty happy with qualifying,” said Kenseth. “I thought I turned a good lap for what we had. Yesterday we were horrible. I was happy to be up front for the heat race. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Jimmy Weller and DJ Shaw rounded out the top five.

Blaney and Mario Gosslin started on the front row for the fourth heat race. Gosslin got the early lead with Randy Gentry moving into second, putting Blaney back to third. A few laps later, Blaney worked his way back to second around Gentry as the top-two drivers checked out from the field.

At lap 10, Blaney muscled his way to the lead around Gosslin as Gentry settled into the transfer spot midway through the race. However, with five laps remaining, Mike Rowe, who started seventh, worked his way around Gentry to take third. At the checkered flag, Blaney took the victory over Gosslin and Rowe.

“The car was great; it ran really good,” said Blaney. “We struggled in qualifying and I missed it by just a little bit. We had a really good race car. I am confident in this car tomorrow.”

Trey Mitchell and Gray Gaulding rounded out the top five.

The fourth heat race took the green flag with Choquette and Brandon Ward on the front row. Ward was able to get the lead on the first lap with Choquette and Ryan Crane running second and third early.

As the leaders battled hard for the top spot, contact amongst a tight five-car battle cost Crane the transfer spot with Michael Pilla moving to third. A few laps later, Choquette put enough pressure on Ward to steal the top spot.

Crane, who dropped back multiple positions, worked his way back to fourth and was trying to snag third from Pilla when his car got sideways coming off turn two, hitting the backstretch wall, bringing out the yellow flag.

On the restart, Choquette was able to squirt out to the lead with Ward hanging on to second. Meanwhile, Donnie Wilson and Pilla battled hard for the transfer spot, and a couple laps later, contact sent Pilla into the inside wall on the front stretch, bringing out the second yellow during this heat race. Wilson was sent to the back for the contact with Pilla.

Choquette and Ward went one and two on the restart, but the battle was once again for the transfer spot with Garrett Evans and Ryan Reed trading positions, side by side. At the checkered flag, it was Choquette followed by Ward and Evans as the three transfer drivers.

“We raced hard and clean,” said Choquette. “I had a hard time with those restarts. It was real hard to see the flagman down kind of where I was. We ended up prevailing. If anything good comes out of this, it is a good little practice session for us.”

Reed and Geoff Bodine rounded out the top five.

The fifth and final heat race kicked off with Peltier and Scott Mulkern on the front row. Before the green flag could fly, Devin Jones’ car came to a stop on the backstretch, having to be pushed off the track by a wrecker.

When the green flag flew Peltier got the jump on Mulkern, driving out to a strong lead over Mulkern and Cassius Clark. After a handful of laps Erik Darnell worked his way to third around Clark, putting pressure on Mulkern for second. Just after halfway, Darnell made the move and was able to take the second position.

In the closing laps Lonnie Sommerville tried to make a charge to the transfer spot, but came up just a bit short as Mulkern took the third and final transfer spot behind winner Peltier and second-place finisher Darnell.

“We kind of got a raw deal with the sunshine there in qualifying,” said Peltier. “Later in the day it cooled down quite a bit. If we were back there, it could have made a difference. We are going to wipe it (the car) off and put it on jack stands.”

Sommerville and Clark rounded out the top five.

On Saturday two more drivers will qualify into “THE RACE”. All forty five non-qualifiers will be split into two 40-lap last chance races with just the race winners moving up. The remainder of the field for the 300-lap event will be set with provisionals.

For more information on the Pro All Stars Series and “THE RACE” at North Wilkesboro Speedway, go to

PASS South presented by JE Pistons and Roush Yates Performance Products “THE RACE”

Heat Race Results (top-three transfer to “THE RACE”)


1st 91l Patrick Laperle 2nd 115 Jody Lavender 3rd 91 Heath Hindman 4th 16 Joey Coulter 5th 4n Ben Rowe 6th 86 Mike Fritts 7th 40 Sterling Marlin 8th 22 Aaron Ricker 9th 5 Spencer Wauters 10th 21 Dustin Hubbard 11th 0 Bill Penfold 12th 97 John Fleming


1st 25 Ross Kenseth 2nd 51k Rebecca Kasten 3rd 47s Corey Williams 4th 23 Jimmy Weller 5th 60n DJ Shaw 6th 20 Steve Legendre 7th 197 Joey Pole 8th 2m Michael Bilderback 9th 9p Tommy Pecaro

10th 18k Keith Oliver 11th 29k Allen Karnes


1st 10 Ryan Blaney 2nd 61 Mario Gosslin 3rd 24n Mike Rowe 4th 47 Trey Mitchell 5th 2 Gray Gaulding

6th 84qc Martin Latuilippe 7th 05 Alex Fleming 8th 16r Kevin Roberge 9th 09 Randy Gentry 10th 80 Dean Clattenburg 11th 17a Scott Alexander 12th 1a Justin Allison


1st 129 Jeff Choquette 2nd 62 Brandon Ward 3rd 64 Garrett Evans 4th 04 Ryan Reed 5th 10b Geoff Bodine 6th 75 Gary Smith 7th 82 Donnie Wilson 8th 49 Brian Levant 9th 1n Randy Turner 10th 80s Mark Shaffer 11th 4p Michael Pilla 12th 110 Ryan Crane


1st 26 Preston Peltier 2nd 7 Erik Darnell 3rd 84 Scott Mulkern 4th 48n Lonnie Sommerville 5th 8 Cassius Clark 6th 180 Blake Jones 7th 73 Joey Doiron 8th 29p Greg Proude 9th 42h Ronnie Hults 10th 48 John Batten 11th 2m Matt Matheson 12th 35 Devin Jone