PASS at Oxford: Mike Rowe wins the battle; Ben Rowe wins the war.
Oxford, ME - The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) held its final points race of the 2002 season at Oxford Plains Speedway Sunday and Mike Rowe of Turner Maine won the rain-shortened P & K Sand and Gravel/Western Maine Concrete Contactors 150 to claim the $4,000 first prize. Rowe, a multi-time Oxford track champion, inherited the lead when Gary Drew suffered ignition failure just four laps before rain ended the event at lap 121. It was Rowe’s 149th Oxford Plains Speedway victory and his first Pro All Stars Series win. Rowe shared the victory lane spotlight with his son Ben Rowe who earned the 2002 PASS Championship title.
Sunoco Race Fuels time trials were not held for the first time this season as a brief rain shower soaked the track just as the cars were rolling onto the track. PASS officials opted for all fifty-two competitors to run a heat race with starting positions coming from a luck-of-the-draw system that Oxford fans have enjoyed for many seasons. Sam Sessions claimed the first True Value heat race to earn the number one spot for the 150.Chuck LaChance, Joe Bessey, Jerry Babb, and Gary Drew claimed heats two through five. The consolation rounds saw Doug Averill and Kevin Kimball earn victories. As a testament to the level of competition, PASS point leader Ben Rowe and eight-time (and current) Oxford Plains Champion Jeff Taylor were forced to take provisional starting spots. Russ Hersey also earned a PASS provisional.
In very similar circumstances to the opening PASS race of the year at Oxford, Sam Sessions took the lead at the drop of the green flag with Gary Drew working his way to second after an early caution flag. As happened in the April race, Drew was able to make a move around Sessions in lapped traffic at lap 33 and was seemingly untouchable the rest of the way.
“I couldn’t run with him (Drew),” said Mike Rowe after the race. “I was saving the tires a bit. The car starting vibrating a bit on the right front so I just backed off.”
Unfortunately for Drew it wasn’t other competitors he needed to worry about. Leading comfortably at lap 116 Drew encountered ignition problems and rolled to a stop in turn one, handing the lead to Mike Rowe. Rowe had taken over second place back on lap 46 by getting around Sessions and tried to keep race leader Drew in sight. Rowe officially took the lead on lap 117 while Drew was being towed to the pits. Sessions took over second place and Travis Khiel continued an impressive late season Pro Stock campaign by sneaking into third place.
A restart on lap 119 saw Ryan Moore spinning on the front stretch which sent Khiel, Jeff Burgess, and Ben Rowe back several spots in the running order which was bad timing for them. The rain returned on lap 121 and the race was given the checkered flag as the track became completely soaked.
Behind Rowe’s Lux Enterprises Chevrolet at the finish were 2001 PASS Champion Sam Sessions in second, Larry Gelinas third Scott Robbins fourth. 2002 series champion Ben Rowe came from through the field from thirty-third starting position to earn fifth. Doug Averill took home the Northern Race Tires Rookie challenge award for his sixth place performance with Chuck LaChance, Jerry Babb, Russ Hersey and Jeff Burgess completing the top ten.
While the fifteen race PASS points season wrapped up Sunday at Oxford, most PASS teams will travel south to Thompson Speedway on Saturday October fifth for the inaugural Pro All Stars sanctioned Octoberfest PASS 200. Billed as an all-star battle between the regions’ top Pro Stock competitors, the Octoberfest 200 is expected to draw competitors from eight states and four Canadian Provinces. For more information, visit www.proallstarsseries.com or www.thompsonspeedway.com.
UNOFFICIAL ORDER OF FINISH: Pro All Stars Series Race #15 - P&K Sand and Gravel/Western Maine Concrete Contractors 150 - Oxford Plains Speedway - Oxford, ME. -9/22/02
1) 24x Mike Rowe 2) 0 Sam Sessions 3) 37 Larry Gelinas 4) 72 Scott Robbins 5) 00 Ben Rowe 6) 85 Doug Averill 7) 38 Chuck LaChance 8) 3 Jerry Babb 9) 2 Russ Hersey 10) 34 Jeff Burgess 11) 54x Johnny Clark 12) 14 Travis Kheil 12) 1x Henry Hudson 13) 77 Dave Gorveatt 14) 07 Kevin Kimball 15) 02 Kenny Wright 16) 8x Allan Tardiff 17) 50 Jeff White 18) 3x Scott Moore 19) 33 Richie Dearborn 20) 27 Richard Pelton 21 40) Dan McKeage 22) 88 Jeff Taylor 22) 12 Jim Emerson 23) 84 Scott Mulkern 24) 24 Wayne Helliwell 25) 72x Mike Maietta Jr. 26) 47 Ryan Moore 27) 18 Ralph Nason 28) 71 Gary Drew 29) 53 Bill Rogers 30) 9 Dick Houlihan 31) 6 Joe Bessey 32) 13 Mike Maietta Sr. 33) 98 AL Hammond