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Gary Drew Claims New England Dodge Dealers 100

April 14, 2002 - Oxford, Me – The Pro All Star Series (PASS) kicked off its 2002 season at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday and local campaigner Gary Drew fought off the PASS regulars and took the checkers in the Maine Dodge Dealers 100.  PASS is the touring series of choice for northern New England Pro Stocks \ Super Late Models and this event was another example of the high quality of racing the series has to offer.  When the dust had settled Drew was $4,000 happier and proved that his run to victory in the 2001 True Value 250 at Oxford was no fluke.  The combination of PASS and Oxford Plains drew 58 cars to the event as rain delayed the early morning practices.  However, the rain held off for the afternoon racing as Sunoco Pole qualifying commenced at high noon.

The PASS qualifying format of time trials and heat races is very popular among fans as drivers must prove themselves under the clock and in a race too get into the feature.  Under fluctuating overcast and sunny skies, drivers took their two laps on the clock and defending series champion Sam Sessions of South Paris won the Sunoco Pole Award with a lap of 15.612 seconds.  Drew, Mike Rowe, Jeff Taylor, and Andy Shaw rounded out the top five.  The entertaining Dash for the Pole saw the top ten time trial drivers draw for a starting spot in a 15-lap dash to determine their actual starting lineup.  Andy Shaw benefited from the draw and fought off Sessions to start on the point for the feature.  The True Value heat races were held for everyone outside the top ten and Johnny Clark, Dick Houlihan, Scott Robbins, and Larry Gelinas took the heat race victories.  Two consolation rounds featured Bruce Haley and Gary Smith taking checkers.

The green flag waved for the feature at 5:10 pm after driver introductions, national anthems, and a reminder to everyone not to forget the September 11th tragedy.  Sessions jumped to the front over Shaw and actually led lap number one.  Shaw tried to hound the defending series champion but Sessions held a comfortable lead until the familiar car of Drew got around Shaw on lap five and set his sites on the leader.  The first caution flew on lap 10 for Richard Pelton and Scott Chubbuck who tangled out of turn four and got into the frontstretch wall.  Chubbuck was able to continue while Pelton suffered major damages to his Monte Carlo.

Following that caution, the PASS drivers proved themselves by running clean until lap 64, but by then, the complexion of the race had drastically changed.  Jeff Taylor and Mike Rowe had made their way past Shaw for third and fourth on laps 46 and 48.  While they made a move to the front, Drew was working the high side of Sessions for the lead as the two cars came across heavy lapped traffic.  As the cars of Tim Brackett and Gary Smith battled side by side to stay on the lead lap, Drew made his move on Sessions on lap 51 and took the lead.  Sessions countered with a move of his own, but Drew held him off and actually managed to pull away by several car lengths.

Said Drew, “Well, Sammy was real strong at the beginning.   We tried Sammy a couple of times but he was still going good.  Then I saw him slip a couple of times so I decided it was time to get going.”

Drew withstood a lap 64 restart when Kenny Wright suffered two flat tires and couldn’t get back to the pits safely.  This was the second (and final) caution of the night as Drew began to deal with a new threat in his rearview mirror.  Mike Rowe, the seven time track champion at Oxford, raced his way past Sessions on the restart and actually managed to keep Drew within 6 car lengths as the race passed lap 95.   When asked on his thoughts with a competitor like Rowe behind him, Drew was quite forthright and respectful.

“They said Rowe was coming and I started getting a bit loose at the end.  I said ‘let him come all he wants’.  He’s one of the best in the business and to have a battle with him…well, it makes you feel good when you win a race like this.”

Rowe actually made a bid low for the lead on lap 96 before suffering a setback when his ignition began to fail on lap 98.  Rowe would fall back to fourth before switching to the backup ignition.  With no pressure, Drew had clear sailing to victory lane and punctuated his strong season of a year ago with a resounding victory in the PASS season opener.  Sessions and Taylor moved to second and third as Rowe slipped back.  Andy Shaw ran a strong race and finished in fifth.

Race Notes:

Cautions:  2 (lap 10, lap 64)

Lead Changes: 1

Leaders: 2 (Sessions Grid-50, Drew 51-100)

Other Notes:

-           Drew is sponsored by Kick Butts Racing, a group aimed at helping people to quit smoking.

-           The Northern Race Tires rookie of the race was Johnny Clark.

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Race #1 of 2002 - Official Results - April 14, 2002

1 - 71 - Gary Drew
2 - 0 - Sammy Sessions
3 - 88t - Jeff Taylor
4 - 24x - Mike Rowe
5 - 66 - Andy Shaw
6 - 18 - Ralph Nason
7 - 53x - Alan Wilson
8 - 54x - Johnny Clark
9 - 37 - Larry Gelinas
10 - 38 - Chuck LaChance
11 - 72 - Scott Robbins
12 - 77 - Dave Gorveatt
13 - 10 - David Avery
14-  24 - Wayne Helliwell
15 - 00 - Ben Rowe
16 - 28 - Kirk Thibeau
17 - 98 - Brad Hammond
18 - 9 - Dick Houlihan
19 - 3 - Mike Maietta Jr.
20 - 29 - Louie Mechalides
21 - 75 - Gary Smith
22 - 11 - Scott King
23 - 60 - Tim Brackett
24 - 84 - Scott Mulkern
25 - 113 - Tommy Tompkins
26 - 27x - Nick Nichols
27 - 4x - Travis Kheil
28 - 22 - Bruce Haley
29 - 54 - GeGe Gravel
30 - 85 - Doug Averill
31 - 35 - Gary Johnson
32 - 07 - Kevin Kimball
33 - 02 - Kenny Wright
34 - 15 - Scott Chubbuck
35 - 33 - Richie Dearborn
36 - 27 - Richard Pelton

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Race Recap

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Heat 1

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Heat 3

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Dash
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Conci 1
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Conci   2

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Series Contact:  Tommy Mayberry - (207) 693-6497

email: tnmmayberry@netscape.net

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