Drew Wins New England Dodge Dealers 100 to Claim PASS Opener

April 14, 2002                                                   Photos courtesy of Norm Marx

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 New England 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 

Sammy Sessions #0 and Mike Rowe 24x battle for second before Rowe drops back with ignition woes

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 

Drew #71 moves to the inside for the lead as he and Sessions in the #0 overtake the about to be lapped cars of Tim Brackett #60 and Scott King #11.

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 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.

Gary Drew receives winners trophy from New England Dodge Dealers representative Bill Bodwell.

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 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.

L to R - Third: Jeff Taylor # 88t; Winner: Gary Drew #71, Second: Sammy Sessions #0

“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.

 

Maine Dodge Dealers 100

Official Results - 4/14/02

PASS @ Oxford Plains Speedway

Finish

Car #

Driver

1

71

Gary Drew

2

0

Sam Sessions

3

88

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 Khiel

28

22

Bruce Haley

29

54

Gerry "Gege" Gravel

30

85

Doug Averill

31

35

Garry Johnson

32

07

Kevin Kimball

33

02

Kenny Wright

34

15

Scott Chubbuck

35

33

Richie Dearborn

36

27

Richard Pelton