PASS North racers eager to drive after four postponements

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Posted July 04, 2013, at 9 p.m.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The rainy weather has been a challenge for auto racers.

None more so than the Pro All-Stars Series’ Super Late Model North drivers.

The PASS SLM North has had more races rained out (4) than races that have been held (3).

They haven’t raced since May 18 as races at White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire, Speedway 660 in New Brunswick, Oxford Plains Speedway and Canaan Fair Speedway in New Hampshire have all been postponed.

The tour will hold its next three races in Maine during a 15-day span.

They will run at Scarborough’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday night and then race at Oxford Plains Speedway on July 12 and at the 40th annual TD Bank 250 at OPS on July 21.

The July 12 card is a makeup of the June 23 race that was rained out.

The TD Bank 250 will be a points race for the PASS SLM North series.

Morrill’s Travis Benjamin and Hallowell’s Johnny Clark, who have captured the last five PASS SLM points titles, said they can’t remember such a long layoff between races due to the weather.

Benjamin did run a non-PASS 150-lapper at Autodrome Chaudiere in Quebec three weeks ago, finishing second, and Clark plans to test at OPS on Friday.

“To be honest with you, there’s not much you can do about (the weather),” said Benjamin, who ended Clark’s four-year reign as points champion with his first points title last season.

Benjamin and Clark said the toughest adjustment to being idle is that it alters your routine.

“I haven’t worked on my car very much lately,” explained Benjamin. “When you’re racing (regularly), you’re working on it four or five days a week. Now I’m afraid I’m going to forget something (for race day).”

Clark is worried about his regimen at the track.

“You get a process going and I haven’t done that for seven weeks,” said Clark. “It comes to a halt. Things like testing the different tire temperatures and the stagger (difference in tire circumference between the right and left side tires). You can run 10-12 (practice) laps and get an idea what the car needs, where the issues are, if it’s tight or loose.”

They are both eager to race at Beech Ridge and said being familiar with the track will help negate the effects of the layoff.

Benjamin is in good shape after the first three races as he is second in the points, 26 points behind leader Joey Doiron of Berwick. Doiron is the only PASS driver who has finished in the top five in all three races.

Farmington’s Cassius Clark is third, three points behind Benjamin. Johnny Clark is seventh, 89 points behind the leader.

“We were 31st after the first race and we’ve been playing catch-up ever since,” said Clark.

Both are pleased that the TD Bank 250 has returned to a Super Late Model race after PASS founder and president Tom Mayberry bought the track from Bill Ryan in October. Ryan switched it to a Late Model race in 2007 and brought in Sprint Cup stars for each 250 including Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth.

Clark and Benjamin haven’t raced in it since it became a Late Model race.

“It’s a good deal. It’s going to be an awesome race,” said Benjamin, who noted there will be more passing.

“The Late Models would race side-by-side but, 50 laps later, they’d still be side by side,” said Benjamin. “With us, you can pass. If you have a good enough car, you can go up through the field. It’ll be fun to watch.”

Clark said he will be a little nervous because, since he is just seventh in points, he wouldn’t be eligible to get a provisional. He will have to qualify to get into the 250 and that can be difficult if you get a bad draw and start in the back of one of the short heat races.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re good so we can get into the (250),” said Clark.

Busy weekend of racing

All of the state’s six tracks have racing scheduled this weekend.

Beech Ridge, Oxford Plains Speedway and Unity Raceway will have racing Friday night at 6:30, 7:15 and 7:30, respectively. All three will have fireworks after the racing. Unity will have a demolition derby to go with other races.

Hermon’s Speedway 95 and Wiscasset Speedway will race Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. and, Sunday afternoon at 1, Spud Speedway in Caribou will have its Day of Destruction series one event featuring Tuff Trucks, a bag race, a chain race, Bombers, Race Your Neighbor, a burnout competition and a demolition derby.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/07/04/sports/auto-racing-sports/pass-north-racers-eager-to-drive-after-four-postponements/ printed on April 23, 2014