Long John 100, PASS North SLM races scheduled Sunday

Posted Oct. 12, 2012, at 8:05 p.m.

UNITY, Maine — With an iffy weather forecast, fingers will be crossed as two of the state’s tracks will host important races to conclude the season on Sunday.

The annual Long John 100 Late Model race will take place at Unity Raceway with the winner pocketing $1,500. Racing starts at noon.

The Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Models’ North division will crown a first-time champion at Oxford Plains Speedway as Morrill’s Travis Benjamin holds an eight-point lead over Farmington’s Cassius Clark. Defending four-time champ Johnny Clark of Hallowell is a distant third.

Racing begins at 1:30 at OPS.

At Unity, the three favorites appear to be Palmyra’s Ajay Picard and Ellsworth’s Andy Saunders, the recently crowned Late Model points champions at Unity and Hermon’s Speedway 95, respectively, along with Fairfield’s Jeff Burgess.

Burgess is a three-time winner of the Long John race and won the Late Model points title at Unity in 2011.

“I think it’s wide open,” said Unity Raceway owner Ralph Nason. “Saunders has raced damned good down here.”

Nason said they have relaxed the rules to get as many cars as possible.

“There are a lot of picky Saturday night rules we won’t be [enforcing] because we want to bring guys in from the other tracks,” said Nason.

Twenty-four drivers have already registered and Nason said he thinks 30 will take the green flag.

“That should make for a real good show,” said Nason.

Jere Humphrey of the Last Chance Motorsports Racing Supplies and Race Fuel company in Washburn is one of the promoters of the race and said they have entrants from four different tracks so far.

Nason said they won’t take any chances with the weather and if the racing is postponed, they will reschedule it for Oct. 27.

That’s because Wiscasset Raceway has scheduled its Fall Fury race card under new owner Richard Jordan on Oct. 20 and Nason pointed out that Lee USA Speedway (N.H.) has its Oktoberfest racing that same weekend.

“I’ll make a decision around 4 on Saturday,” said Nason. “If we don’t have a chance of having a good day [weather-wise], we’d be stupid to hold it.

“That would be like standing on I-95 and throwing $50 bills in the air when we could reschedule it and hit a home run,” said Nason. “We would be all alone [on Oct. 27].”

That would be the only racing in the region.

In addition to the Long John Late Model race, there will be 50-lap Sportsman/Super Street and Wildcat/Strictly Street features that will each pay the winner $500, Monsta Mini/Sport Four and Flyin’ 4/Bomber races that will pay $250 to win and will be either 25 or 50 laps depending upon the car counts and a 20-lap Enduro race titled the Wheel of Fortune/Flagpole race.

The Wicked Good Vintage cars will also race.

The Wheel of Fortune race will involve the race cars having to circle a skidder tire placed in the middle of the start-finish line on every lap.

Benjamin seeking title Sunday

Benjamin said he is looking forward to his battle with Cassius Clark at OPS on Sunday.

“It’s going to be good for the series to have someone other than Johnny Clark or Ben Rowe win the points championship every year,” said Benjamin. “It’ll make everyone feel they can win it, too.”

Johnny Clark or Turner’s Rowe has won every points championship since the 2002 season. Clark has won six and Rowe four.

South Paris’ Sam Sessions won the first championship in 2001.

Benjamin said the heat races could play a huge role because the winners of the heat races receive five points and it goes down to one point for the fifth-place car.

“If Cassius wins a heat race and I don’t finish in the top five in mine, my lead would be down to three entering the feature,” said Benjamin, who noted that if the opposite scenario occurred with him winning a heat race and Clark not making the top five, he would take a 13-point lead into the feature.

“Heat races are why I’m leading the points. We’ve gotten a ton of points in the heat races,” said Benjamin.

The 33-year-old Benjamin has won four heat races to Clark’s one.

However, Clark has three feature wins to Benjamin’s one and that is the first tiebreaker if they tie for the points title.

Benjamin said he isn’t going to approach the race any differently.

“We’re going there to win. If we can finish in the top three like we have all year long, it’ll take care of itself. We’ve received a trophy [for a top-three finish] at every track except Oxford and that’s our goal this weekend,” said Benjamin.

“We’ve had a great year and we want to win the championship. But if it doesn’t happen, we’ve still had a great year,” said Benjamin.

He said one of the keys to the race is making sure “the car stays under you on the long runs. There will be a lot of green flag laps.”

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