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Gerry Closes PASS Season With Second Straight Win, While Shaw Clinches Championship

Curtis Gerry, seen here in last Sunday's winning drive at Oxford Plains Speedway, repeated the feat this Saturday, closing out the 2020 PASS season with his third win of the year. (Jeff Brown photo)

In an abbreviated season of weekly racing at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway, reigning track champion Curtis Gerry picked up only a single feature win in his title defense.

It turned out the Waterboro, Me. veteran was saving his winning for the touring circuit.

Gerry drove to a dominating victory in Sunday’s Coastal Auto Parts 150, the season finale for the Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Models, picking up his third PASS trophy of the touring series’ twentieth season.

And while Gerry celebrated his second straight win at the legendary Maine speedway, DJ Shaw gathered with his team to celebrate the 2020 PASS North championship.

Shaw suffered mechanical trouble in the season-ending event, but returned to the track to close out his fifth championship season and his third-straight title.

Saturday’s championship finale, itself a replacement for a pandemic-canceled event at Seekonk Speedway, was postponed a week after rain pared last weekend’s planned doubleheader down to a Sunday show.

Gerry, who won last Sunday’s Lee’s Family Trailer 150 in dominating fashion, started 16th and had to pick his way through traffic, using the outside line to his advantage as he moved toward the front. Without the help of a caution, Gerry ran down leader Travis Benjamin, passing the two-time series champion on lap 67.

As Gerry ran away with the lead, the race took a dramatic turn on lap 83, with DJ Shaw exiting the track in turn three after a suspension failure. Shaw’s excursion brought out the first yellow flag of the afternoon, and the series points leader immediately headed to the infield while his crew tried to remedy the situation. Shaw, forced to count on his 69-point advantage over Johnny Clark, returned to the race several laps down, hoping to close in on anyone who dropped from contention.

Gerry continued to dominate, with Joey Doiron and Clark emerging from the top-ten battle to run second and third in the closing laps. But no one could close the gap to Gerry’s black #7G. The two-time Beech Ridge Pro Series and 2019 Oxford Super Late Model track champion picked up his tenth career PASS North win, with nine of them coming at Oxford.

Doiron finished second, a season-best result for car owner Greg Curtis’ #21 team. Doiron teamed with Curtis and picked up an Oxford weekly feature win and top tens in five of six PASS starts, while earning a win in Wright Pearson’s #16 at White Mountain Motorsports Park in September.

Johnny Clark’s third-place, meanwhile, capped off the six-time PASS North champion’s first full season since 2017 and his fourth runner-up result in the standings. Clark returned to victory lane for the first time since 2016, then followed that win with his first Oxford 250 victory in August.

Travis Benjamin, last year’s Oxford 250 winner, finished fourth. Nick Sweet, the early-season points leader, finished fifth, ending the season on a strong note but leaving the Vermont driver wondering what could have been after midseason engine troubles derailed his championship bid.

Scott Robbins finished sixth, ahead of ACT Tour veteran Rowland “JR” Robinson, Jr., who recorded a career-best seventh in his new #20 ride. Oxford Plains Speedway track champion Dave Farrington, Jr. was eighth, ahead of Garrett Hall and Kyle DeSouza.

DJ Shaw limped home 45 laps down in 28th, but his points pad was enough to secure the Center Conway, N.H. driver the championship. Shaw spent most of his championship defense under the shadow of Nick Sweet, with Sweet’s victory-lane dominance keeping Shaw from picking up a feature win of his own. When Sweet’s fortunes faltered in the Oxford 250, Shaw emerged with the points lead.

It appeared that Shaw might be on the way to replicating his father Dale’s winless NASCAR Busch North Series championship in 1994. But a dominant performance on the high banks at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway negated that possibility.

Two weeks later, Shaw, his family, and the Dale Shaw Race Cars operation celebrated their third-straight championship and their fifth in the last seven years, breaking a tie for second-most PASS championships with four-time champion Ben Rowe. Together, fifteen of PASS’ twenty championship trophies are owned by Shaw, Rowe and Johnny Clark.

Ben Ashline finished the season fifth in points after a slow start to the year, earning top-rookie honors over Scott McDaniel and Kate Re. Re planned to make her Super Late Model debut in Oxford’s weekly program, but the Maine teenager ended up running the full PASS schedule, competing in her first long-distance events, becoming the first woman to qualify without a provisional for the Oxford 250, and scoring her first top ten at Thompson Speedway this fall.

Rounding out the top ten in the points were Gabe Brown, who instead elected to race in the Granite State Pro Stock Series finale at New London-Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl, and part-timer Dan Winter, who was also in Waterford as a crew member for GSPSS champion Joey Polewarczyk.

Saturday’s race brings an end to a peculiar season, a season that could not open until June but in which PASS officials still managed to get in fourteen races. It was a season of postponements, cancellations, new rules and restrictions that changed from week to week. Many are thankful for the wind-down of the breakneck pace of the last five frenetic months of summer racing.

But come January, as the first confirmations of the 2021 season fall into place, those who are thankful for the break now will be all too ready for racing to start.

Unofficial Results, PASS Coastal Auto Parts 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway:
1. (7G) Curtis Gerry
2. (21) Joey Doiron
3. (54) Johnny Clark
4. (7) Travis Benjamin
5. (40) Nick Sweet
6. (72) Scott Robbins
7. (20) JR Robinson
8. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
9. (94) Garrett Hall
10. (1) Kyle DeSouza
11. (60B) Tim Brackett
12. (53) Alan Wilson
13. (61) TJ Brackett
14. (02) Brian Whalley
15. (8) Calvin Rose, Jr.
16. (41) Logan Melcher
17. (36) Ryan Robbins
18. (10) Kate Re
19. (99) Ben Ashline
20. (50) Jeff White
21. (24) Mike Rowe
22. (14C) Anthony Constantino
23. (63) John Salemi
24. (9T) Alan Tardiff
25. (78) Ivan Kaffel
26. (3C) Josh Childs
27. (14) Scott McDaniel
28. (60) DJ Shaw
29. (03) Scott Moore
30. (4) Ben Rowe

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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