In last year’s Fall Foliage 150, Gabe Brown thought he had claimed his second-ever Pro All Stars Series win, until a post-race review took it away.
This time around, Brown made sure his win was by more than a few inches.
Brown dominated Saturday’s PASS North prelude to the American-Canadian Tour Fall Foliage 200, picking up his long-awaited second career win and his first at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
The Center Conway, N.H. racer dueled to the end last year with mentor and car builder D.J. Shaw, edging out Shaw in a photo finish for what he celebrated as his second PASS North win for car owner Dale Drew.
But a manual scoring review suggested Shaw had come out on top, and a close inspection of Brown’s car discovered the scoring transponder was mounted a few inches forward, potentially giving him the .003-second advantage that timing and scoring recorded. Brown was moved to second, with Shaw taking his fourth win of the year instead.
Brown, racing his own car this year, was not about to leave this year’s win up to mere inches. Starting on the front row, Brown dispatched Shaw early, then held off a charging Jimmy Hebert, who was making a drive for victory in only his fourth PASS start.
Hebert’s car gave up the ghost before halfway, though, cycling Shaw and two-time PASS winner Austin Teras to second and third. Brown, half a track ahead, continued to lead, though a caution on lap 64 brought the pack back to his rear bumper.
Seven-time PASS North champion Johnny Clark inserted himself into the mix, climbing to second and making a play to sweep all three PASS races at WMMP in 2023. But Brown’s pace in the final fifty laps was furious, as he lapped all the way into the top five to leave nothing to chance.
Clearly in control at the finish, Brown kept Clark at bay to win his first PASS North race of the season, his first since last summer’s victory at Oxford Plains Speedway, and his first under the Gabe Brown Racing banner.
Clark’s three-for-three bid fell short with a second-place performance, while points leader Max Cookson came in third.
Snowmobile racer Brian Whalley was fourth, the final car on the lead lap, with Joey Doiron finishing fifth.
Dennis Spencer, Jr. came home sixth with Teras fading to seventh at the end. D.J. Shaw ended the night in eighth while cousin Andy Shaw rebounded from an early spin to finish ninth. Connecticut open-wheeler Tom Abele, Jr. made his PASS debut in style, rounding out the top ten.
Brown’s win was special for the team, as it came in a brand-new mount the team had debuted earlier in the summer. After teaming up with car owner Dale Drew late in 2021 and running all but one PASS race for Drew’s operation last year, Brown opted to do his own deal again this year. Drew hired Andy Shaw, a multi-time PASS Modified champion, while Brown dusted off his own Dale Shaw Race Cars chassis and prepared for a dual assault on the PASS and ACT championships with his own fleet.
Brown was second in the season opener at Thompson Speedway, but the season played out as a story of feast or famine, with top-five and top-ten runs offset by four midpack finishes well outside the top ten. The new car hit the track shortly before the Oxford 250, but had yet to showcase its winning potential.
Now, Brown is a two-time winner. And while he had a big hand in preparing Drew’s cars last year, the young racer and his family and friends could call this win all their own.
In the bigger picture, Cookson still leads Shaw, whose frustrating winless season has nevertheless kept him within 79 points of the title battle. Shaw is the only driver in the top five not to have a checkered flag this year. And with no race at Thompson to look forward to, a clear opportunity for the veteran is hard to find. Eight drivers have run all the PASS events so far, but only five are in realistic contention for the championship, with Clark, Brown and Trevor Sanborn knocking on the door with three race weekends to go.
For Brown, leapfrogging the three drivers ahead of him to steal the championship is probably a long shot.
But closing the year with another win or two is still on the table.
Pro All Stars Series North Fall Foliage 150
White Mountain Motorsports Park
1. (47) Gabe Brown
2. (54) Johnny Clark
3. (39) Max Cookson
4. (02) Brian Whalley
5. (73D) Joey Doiron
6. (12) Dennis Spencer, Jr.
7. (29) Austin Teras
8. (60) D.J. Shaw
9. (50) Andy Shaw
10. (32) Tom Abele, Jr.
11. (99ME) Ben Ashline
12. (24J) J.P. Josiasse
13. (44) Trevor Sanborn
14. (18ME) Miller Buzzell
15. (25) Shawn Knight
16. (1VT) Evan Hallstrom
17. (77MA) Jeremy Sorel
18. (91) Patrick Laperle
19. (58VT) Jimmy Hebert
20. (09) Jeremy Davis
21. (63) Kyle Salemi