Many New Faces Set To Challenge Standard Bearers For PASS South Title in 2012
CHARLOTTE, NC (February 29) – To say that fans and drivers alike are anticipating the 2012 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Model season would be a vast understatement. Defending PASS South Champion Ryan Blaney moves up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and will also debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Blaney will continue to run a limited PASS South schedule, but that leaves the field wide open to returning veterans and bright-eyed newcomers for the championship.
Clemson University student Ross Kenseth makes the move from the Midwest Late Model wars to the Southeast’s tough short tracks in 2012. Kenseth made his PASS South debut last year finishing with an impressive 7th place finish at THE RACE at North Wilkesboro Speedway besting a field of 70 other drivers.
“I think it will be a really good experience to race with PASS,” said Kenseth, son of two-time Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth. “I haven’t really raced with many of the drivers in the PASS South series, but hopefully we can get out of the box with a good run at Dillon and be a contender.”
Titusville, Florida’s Ken Lilley hopes to continue his climb up the racing later with a move up to PASS South. Lilley began his career racing in Quarter Midgets before moving on to the FASCAR Pro Truck division and eventually on to Late Model racing in his native Florida.
Eddie Sharp Racing has made a name for itself campaigning vehicles in the ARCA Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and now moves to the world of Super Late Model racing and PASS. The Sharp team has created a driver development program that will be guided by short track legend Butch Miller. Miller is coming off a season that saw him crew chief Chris Eggleston to a win in PASS South’s “THE RACE” at North Wilkesboro Speedway and take away a cool $75,000 winner’s purse. Brandon Jones of Atlanta, GA comes to the team after having won Pro Truck division titles at two tracks in his home state. Alongside Jones at Eddie Sharp racing will be William Gallagher, who will also be making his PASS South debut.
In addition, more fresh faces are coming to PASS, albeit with experienced teammates and established drivers. Coulter Motorpsorts will field a two car effort with 2011 PASS South Rookie-Of-The-Year Gray Gaulding and Craig Goess, Jr. Gaulding finished out 2011 strong with three top ten finishes, leading laps in the season ending Mason-Dixon Meltdown at Concord Speedway. Goess comes to PASS as a former Legends Car standout who became an ARCA winner at Pocono Raceway before competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year.
Brad Keselowski Racing also returns to PASS South in 2012 fielding two cars for Landon Cling and Nate Caruth. Cling impressed running a partial schedule last season, finishing 3rd against a stout field in the Over The Mountain 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway. Caruth hopes the experience of veteran crew chief Gary Crooks will enable him to successfully make the giant leap to racing asphalt Super Late Models with PASS from the dirt tracks of Iowa where he cut his teeth racing Modifieds.
Perhaps the driver with the most invested in the 2012 racing season is Jay Fogleman. He brings teammates along with him this year in the form of Late Model Stock veteran David Latour, Jr. and perennial Legends Car winner Kyle Beattie. Fogleman scored a win in last year’s season opener at Anderson Motor Speedway and led the PASS South points much of the year, only to lose out in the final race at Concord to Ryan Blaney.
“Coming so close last year to winning the championship and losing with a flat tire was a great let down,” said Fogleman. “But it made us more determined to out work everyone this Winter. We are ready for 2012 and all the Bull City teams are looking good for this season.”
Kyle Grissom joins the PASS South series after several successful seasons racing in the Late Model Stock division throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. Grissom debuted with the series last October at Hickory, starting on the pole and leading laps in the early going. The second generation driver is following a similar path to that of his father Steve, the 1993 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion. Steve parlayed success in the old All Pro Series to a successful driving career in the top ranks of stock car racing throughout the 1990’s.
Short track veteran Brandon Ward returns in the familiar #62 for New Day Motorsports with a brand new car ready to race in 2012. Ward has been a winner in every division he has ever competed in with the exception of PASS. He hopes to change that this season as he and his team go for the PASS South championship after racing on a limited schedule the last few seasons.
“New faces to the series are always good,” said Ward. “It adds to an already very competitive field and also brings new fans to PASS. The guys have worked really hard over the Winter and we feel good about our chances to get kpmoto.com, Foothill Ford and Precision Built Spindles into victory lane and a chance at the championship.”
And, this list of drivers set to compete in PASS South in 2012 continues to grow by the week. Former PASS South and PASS National Champion Preston Peltier is back with renewed vigor after going winless last year. Stephen Naase hopes to build on a very productive 2011 which saw him set a new track record at North Wilkesboro Speedway and hold off Peltier for a thrilling victory in the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory. And, Steve Wallace returns to his short tracks roots debuting in PASS South driving the Leavitt Racing Components house car.
The season kick off is just around the corner with the 7th Annual South Carolina Clash at Dillon Motor Speedway on March 10th. There will be rotating practice on Friday, March 9th for all divisions from 3 PM until dark. On Saturday, March 10th, gates open at 9 AM with rotating practice for the PASS South Super Late Models, PASS Super Limiteds, CCS Legends, CCS Bandoleros, and Mini Cups from 11 AM until 3 PM. Qualifying begins at 4 PM and will be followed by the feature division races. And don’t forget to make plans for the first major event of the season as the best Super Late Model drivers in the country converge on Hickory Motor Speedway for the 7th Annual Easter Bunny 150 on Saturday, April 7th. For more information on any PASS division go to ProAllStarsSeries.com.