May 25, 2018
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Turner’s Rowe has ups, downs on southern trip


Turner’s Ben Rowe, the four-time Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model North champion, has had an interesting season already.

And the first PASS North race is still three weeks away.

Rowe and his team drove from Maine to Georgia for a race, ran time trials in their two Ford Fusions and put their cars back on the trailer before the next day’s race.

“But the screw jack broke so we couldn’t unload the cars. We couldn’t get them off the trailer. So we drove home,” explained Rowe.

Last weekend Rowe captured the PASS Super Late Model South opener at Dillon Motor Speedway (S.C.).

He passed Alex Haase on lap 22 and led the rest of the way. Haase drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“I loved bringing the trophy back to Maine,” said Rowe, who noted that the southerners aren’t keen on having a northerner win one of their races.

“They didn’t want the trophy coming back to Maine. That’s why we were there,” said Rowe.

Rowe originally planned to run the entire PASS North schedule and a “handful” of PASS South races including the first three PASS South features.

“But it wouldn’t surprise me if we ran for the points title in both series,” said the 33-year-old Rowe. “We all like going south [to race]. The weather is great and the people are great. There are a lot of drivers with [Sprint] Cup ties. And my father [Mike] said the only way to get better is by racing against people who are better than you. That’s how you learn stuff.”

Several PASS South drivers run for teams owned by Sprint Cup racers or teams.

Ryan Blaney, who finished third in the race, is the son of Cup driver Dave Blaney.

Rowe said series founder and PASS president Tom Mayberry has spaced out the PASS North and PASS South races so drivers can run both series.

“That’s been a great thing because northern drivers get recognition when we drive in the south,” he said.

Rowe wanted to get off to a good start this season because he felt he and his team “played catch-up all last year and we never caught up.”

He finished second in the PASS North points to Hallowell’s Johnny Clark, who edged him by 10 points for his third championship.

Both Rowe and Clark will run the fourth annual Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway on April 11.

The PASS North schedule opens the following Sunday, April 19, at Hermon’s Speedway 95.

Rowe said he and Clark are good friends who talk often.

“If I can’t win, there’s nobody else I’d rather see win than Johnny,” said Ben Rowe.

More Cup drivers for 250?

Oxford Plains Speedway owner Bill Ryan said there are a couple of other NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers interested in running in the 36th annual TD Banknorth Oxford 250 on July 19.

He has already secured Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series driver Kenny Wallace and Wallace’s nephew, Steve, the son of 1989 Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace.

Steve Wallace runs in the Nationwide Series.

Rusty Wallace, now an auto racing analyst on ABC-TV, will be the grand marshal for the 250.

“We’ve had calls from a couple of other guys,” admitted Ryan. “One is a perennial Cup Chase driver and the other is a guy at the tail end of his [Sprint Cup] career. Nothing has been firmed up. We’ll see.”

Several Cup drivers have entered the race in recent years including Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley, Kurt and Kyle Busch and last year’s winner, Kevin Harvick.

Harvick was the only one to have won the race, which has been scheduled on an off-weekend for the Cup series.

“The spotter for Kyle Busch came here with Kyle and thought the race was awesome so he contacted the Wallaces,” said Ryan. “That was lucky for us.”

Kenny Wallace has run other TD Banknorth 250s and finished eighth in 1991. Steve Wallace will be making his debut.

“Kenny is one of the most popular TV personalities in NASCAR and Steve is an up-and-comer,” said Ryan.

He said word-of-mouth has been a valuable recruiting tool for the 250.

Ironically, the three drivers who have won the first five Sprint Cup races this season have been 250 alums Kenseth (2), Kyle Busch (2) and Kurt Busch (1).

“That’s a pretty cool thing for us,” said Ryan.

He said it hasn’t been decided which teams will furnish the cars and track support for the Wallaces.

“We still have to work out the details. But they’ll be in competitive cars,” said Ryan.

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