With 150 green-flag laps approaching at White Mountain Motorsports Park, Derek Griffith only had one car in his rear-view mirror.
With the checkered flag in sight, Griffith had twenty-eight of them there.
The Hudson, N.H. Super Late model star outlasted some and outraced others Sunday afternoon, en route to his first Pro All Stars Series North win of 2020 and the eleventh of his career.
“Worst to first today!” Griffith shared on social media following the race. “It was a very long week and I’m glad it paid off as it did!”
Griffith, the 2019 PASS North runner-up, hoped to rebound Sunday from the season opener two weeks ago, when he was eliminated after an early wreck. But heat race woes forced Griffith into the consis, where his struggles continued. Griffith, who swept both PASS visits to the North Woodstock, N.H. track last year, rolled out of the pits 28th in a 29-car starting field.
But what got Griffith to the front was far from a dramatic, no-holds-barred charge through the field. While veterans Johnny Clark, DJ Shaw and Ben Rowe battled cleanly at the front of the field, the intense heat and humidity took its toll on everyone else. Blown tires, mechanical issues and exhausted drivers battered the field from front to back, with half the entries in the pits as the race neared the two-thirds mark.
Griffith had quietly climbed into the top five, and was making a spirited bid for third as Cassius Clark came to a stop to draw the caution flag with 56 laps remaining.
On the restart, Shaw slipped past Ben Rowe and left Rowe to fend off Johnny Clark. Rowe shook the six-time champion and was challenging Shaw for the lead when a yellow flew on lap 132. Rowe wrested the lead from Shaw two laps later as Clark brought out a caution for a flat tire of his own.
That moved Griffith to third, and the young driver capitalized quickly, dispatching Shaw and battling Rowe for the lead before a Garrett Hall spin brought out another caution. Griffith got away with the lead quickly, and Rowe’s promising afternoon ended with contact from Shaw that jumbled the top five and brought out the last caution of the afternoon.
From there, it was an easy Sunday drive for Griffith, who led the final eleven-lap sprint to the checkered flag.
Jeremy Davis assumed second place after Rowe’s spin, and while he gave chase, he could not get close enough to Griffith to threaten for the win. Davis’ runner-up finish was his first top-five finish in PASS competition since 2016 and his first podium since his 2015 win at Autodrome Montmagny.
Gabe Brown finished a career-best third, earning the first top ten of his second full PASS North season. DJ Shaw finished fourth after his late-race skirmish, with Ryan Kuhn rounding out the top five.
Alan Tardiff rebounded from a flat tire to finish sixth, ahead of Ray Christian III, early leader Johnny Clark, Rowe, and Garrett Hall. Travis Benjamin, in eleventh, was the final car to finish a race that, despite the high attrition, was relatively clean from start to finish.
With early trouble relegating season-opener winner Nick Sweet to a 17th-place finish, DJ Shaw will likely assume the points lead with two races complete, as the defending PASS North champion seeks his third straight and fifth career title.
Griffith’s win was a timely burst of momentum as the 23-year-old braces for his first visit to Pocono Raceway this Friday. Griffith broke into the national spotlight in February, signing a last-minute deal to race for Chad Bryant Racing in the ARCA Menards Series East. After nearly winning in his series debut at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and clinching New Smyrna’s World Series championship with his Louie Mechalides-led Super Late Model team, Griffith was poised for an ARCA East championship run. Following a pause in racing due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chad Bryant Racing revised their plans for Griffith, who will make his ARCA Menards Series speedway debut on Friday at the “Tricky Triangle” in northeastern Pennsylvania.
After two visits to the Granite State, the Pro All Stars Series teams return home to Oxford Plains Speedway next Sunday for a doubleheader with the American-Canadian Tour Late Models. While fans will not be permitted according to Maine guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the double feature will be available on Pay-Per-View through the Northeast Sports Network.
Unofficial Results, PASS 150 at White Mountain Motorsports Park:
1. (12G) Derek Griffith
2. (09) Jeremy Davis
3. (47) Gabe Brown
4. (122) DJ Shaw
5. (72) Ryan Kuhn
6. (9T) Alan Tardiff
7. (93CT) Ray Christian III
8. (54) Johnny Clark
9. (4) Ben Rowe
10. (94) Garrett Hall
11. (7) Travis Benjamin
12. (29S) Trevor Sanborn
13. (47M) Kelly Moore
14. (35) Derek Ramstrom
15. (7G) Curtis Gerry
16. (39) Cassius Clark
17. (40) Nick Sweet
18. (12) Corey Bubar
19. (29T) Austin Teras
20. (53) Alan Wilson
21. (85) Travis Stearns
22. (10) Kate Re
23. (99) Ben Ashline
24. (88) Brandon Barker
25. (36) Ryan Robbins
26. (18CT) John Lowinski-Loh
27. (2) Tom Scully, Jr.
28. (80) Andy Saunders
29. (14) Scott McDaniel
DNS: (N40) Dan McKeage