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Star Speedway - June 29, 2002

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Ben Rowe Tops the Field in PASS 150 at Star Speedway

Epping, NH – Ben Rowe took advantage of a mid-race restart to take the lead and then barely held off Sam Session to win the sixth race on the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) schedule at Star Speedway.  Rowe’s move to front on lap 105 came at the expense of Louie Mechalides who suffered mechanical difficulties after leading every lap until that point.   Rowe, driving the Mechanical Services-Hi Tech Insulation Monte Carlo, pocketed the $4,000 first prize and increased his lead in the season point standings with nine point races remaining.

Bright blue skies and warm sunshine greeted the 35 cars that attempted two laps under the clock for Sunoco Race Fuels time trials.  Rowe made it clear early on that he’d be a tough man to beat by garnering his fifth straight Sunoco Fast Time Award with a stellar lap of 13.297 seconds!  Rowe was more then a tenth better then JR Baril and Gege Gravel and raised the bar of expectations for all participants.  The winner of the Pole Dash was Mechalides who was the class of the field, putting his Cushman Competition Ford Taurus on the point for the feature event.  Scott Chubbuck had drawn the top spot for the Pole Dash but had nothing for Mechalides who took the checkers while pulling away.  Johnny Clark was the runner-up and would start the PASS 150 on the outside of row one.

True Value heat race winners were Doug Averill and Star Speedway’s 2001 Pro Stock track champion Dan Bezanson.  The two consolation rounds went to George Philbrick and Scott Mulkern while PASS rookie Cassius Clark transferred to the feature by winning the “B” main.  Chuck LaChance and Walt Hammond earned provisional starting spots and rounded out the 26-car field.

The green dropped on the PASS 150 and an early caution on lap 2 was an indication of things to come. Drivers struggled this night to keep the fenders off from one another and the result was 15 cautions and a constant juggling of the running order.   What didn’t change much was the leader of the race as Louie Mechalides jumped to the point early and withstood all challenges for over 100 laps.  Rowe moved around Johnny Clark for second on lap 42 and realized that he had nothing for Mechalides at that point.

“He (Mechalides) was the class of the field,” said Rowe after the event.  “I didn’t have anything for him.  This is his home track and he was good.”

The driver to watch through most of the event was Sam Sessions.  The defending PASS champion started his Auburn Metal Fabrication-Typar Housewrap Monte Carlo in fourth position, but got shuffled back in the early going.  Sessions made several charges to the front on the outside and felt like he had a car to beat.

“From 30 laps on I thought I could win,” said Sessions.   “I just couldn’t get a break on a restart.  I was junk in the inside groove, but after ten laps, I could put it in the outside groove and get around just about anybody.”

For the first 105 laps, the race was all Mechalides.  The Tyngsboro, Massachusetts driver was looking for some redemption after an incident last week that hurt his title chances.  Mechalides was cruising out front by as much as a full straightaway over Rowe until the caution flew for Kenny Wright’s blown engine.  Rowe made the move on the restart when Mechalides’s car just didn’t respond.

“On the restart I pumped the brakes on the backstretch and they bound up on me,” explained a disappointed Mechalides.  “They bound up and the car just wouldn’t go.  I was just trying not to beat up the car.  We were running good and then it just got away from us.”

Rowe was not crowned the winner yet, however, as Sessions also got around Mechalides and seemingly had a car capable of going to the front.  From lap 121 to lap 139 Sessions continuously worked the high groove trying to get his fender alongside Rowe’s.

“I thought we could get him,” explained Sessions in the post-race interview.  “I wanted this one really bad.  He (Rowe) ran really good and he took just enough of my line away that I couldn’t get to his outside.   If I could have just gotten to his rear quarter I think I may have had something for him.”

Rowe wasn’t to be denied, however, and pulled away from Sessions over the last 10 laps to take his second win of the season on a night when he wasn’t the best car on the track.

“I was just hanging around in second and third and I really had nothing for Louie.  I figured on that restart I’d get my only chance and decided I’d do a little short track driving….beating and banging…and then he missed a shift or something and I got by him.   I told the guys on the radio that I knew the zero car (Sessions) was coming and to just let me know where he is.  I had to make the car an extra 4 feet wide at the end to hold Sammy off, but that’s Star for you.”

Rowe was quick to thank the people that got him to victory lane.

“The Estes’ (Tom and Eileen) are great car owners and I feel I have the best crew out there is.  We were a little off this week, but I guarantee that they are already trying to figure out how to fix it.”

Scott Chubbuck was awarded third place after Johnny Clark received a one-lap penalty for rough driving. The penalty unofficially moved Clark back to sixth in the final standings. Scott Mulkern came home in fourth with Mechalides rounding out the top five. Richie Dearborn, Russ Hersey, Wayne Helliwell Jr. and Chuck LaChance completed the unofficial top ten.

PASS heads to Montmagny next Saturday night for its second stop at the Quebec oval where Rowe led 144 laps just a few weeks ago before losing a right front tire.

Cautions:  15              Lead Changes: 1

Leaders:  (Mechalides grid-105, Rowe 106-150) Time of race:  approx. 1 hour 45 minutes

Official Results - 6/29/02 - Star Speedway

1-00-Ben Rowe 14-37-Larry Gelinas
2-0-Sam Sessions 15-36-Jay Sands
3-15-Scott Chubbuck 16-4-Rich Eaton
4-84-Scott Mulkern 17-02-Kenny Wright
5-7x-J.R. Baril 18-54-GeGe Gravel
6-29-Louie Mechalides 19-8-Cassius Clark
7-54c-Johnny Clark 20-34-Joe Squelia
8-33-Richie Dearborn 21-53-Bill Rodgers
9-38-Chuck LaChance 22-99-George Philbrick
10-85-Doug Averill 23-97-Walt Hammond Jr.
11-64-Dan Bezanson 24-77-Dave Gorveatt
12-2-Russ Hersey 25-11-Norm Wrenn
13-24-Wayne Helliwell 26-55-Bobby Allen

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Time Trials

Additional Entrants

1-Randy Turner 28-Justin Belfiore
6-Jeff Crowley 35-Garry Johnson
7-Bub Bilodeau 55x-Bobby MacArthur
12-Jim McCallum 81 - Moe Tweedie
22-Mike Lively -

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

email: tnmmayberry@netscape.net

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