Garrett Hall’s last few seasons at the wheel of a Super Late Model have not lived up to his expectations or his track record.
But Saturday evening at Thompson Speedway, the Pro All Stars Series veteran broke a long dry spell in style.
Hall passed Wayne Helliwell, Jr. for the lead with 24 laps to go, then pulled away to take his first PASS North win of 2022 in the Sunoco World Series 75, part of the historic speedway’s 60th Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing.
The Scarborough, Me. star scored his breakout PASS North victory in 2016’s Icebreaker at Thompson, setting a course for success that included another win that season and three more in the years to come. But after a pair of wins at Oxford Plains Speedway in 2019, victory lane proved harder to find.
A heat-race victory hinted at Hall’s winning potential, as he gridded alongside Jake Johnson for the start. Hall took the lead immediately, but Helliwell carved through traffic from his seventh-place starting position, challenging for the lead only six laps into the feature.
Helliwell, on the hunt for his first PASS win since the 2016 Oxford 250, took control as Hall slid to third, with double-threat Jake Johnson in second.
But as the race reached halfway, still under the green flag, Hall marched forward again, slipping past Johnson and stalking Helliwell for the lead. With 25 laps left and the race pace still quick, Hall caught Helliwell, making the pass one lap later to take back the top spot.
Hall distanced himself from Helliwell as Johnson found himself under pressure from 2022 Icebreaker winner DJ Shaw. As Shaw and Johnson dueled for third, Hall continued to drive away.
With no pressure from Helliwell and few slower cars to work around, Hall easily drove to his first win in three years.
Helliwell held on for second, his best finish of the season and his fourth top-five result in five starts this year. Shaw cleared Johnson in the closing laps to finish third at one of his strongest tracks.
Johnson, who was performing double-duty with a drive later in the evening in the Outlaw Open Modified Series Sunoco 100, finished fourth, with title hopeful and former Thompson winner Eddie MacDonald rounding out the top five.
Gabe Brown was sixth across the line after a late-race battle with Cory Casagrande, who finished seventh. Points leader Ryan Kuhn was a quiet eighth. Michael Scorzelli matched his career-best finish in ninth, while Joey Polewarczyk was tenth at the end.
With two races remaining on the PASS calendar for 2022, Kuhn, Brown and MacDonald are locked in a tight three-way championship battle, with Kuhn holding a slim margin. Shaw, out of the PASS North points race after missing June’s Seekonk feature, leads MacDonald in the PASS National Championship standings with only next week’s race at Oxford left to settle the National crown.
Hall opened the season with an eye to his first full PASS campaign since 2018, but a July schedule conflict forced Hall to miss part of a weekend double-feature at White Mountain Motorsports Park. Armed with a new chassis from the Dale Shaw Race Cars stable, Hall managed a few top ten finishes while learning the new car.
After falling out of the points race, though, Hall turned his focus to August’s Oxford 250. On race day, a heat race crash threatened to keep Hall out of the 250 altogether, but help from Joey Doiron and Shaw got him back on track in time for a consi. Hall won the last-chance race to make the 250 field, but was eliminated in another wreck with eight laps to go.
Hall and the Black Point Motorsports team rebuilt the car in time for September’s Freedom 300 at Lee USA Speedway, but Saturday’s race was his first PASS feature since the Oxford 250 crash. Serving as crew chief was Doiron. The two racers have supported each other all season, crewing for the other on off-weekends.
After a challenging 2021 and a rebuilding 2022, Saturday’s win might be the missing link to put Garrett Hall back on the winning track.
Unofficial Results, PASS North Sunoco World Series 75 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park:
1. (94) Garrett Hall
2. (27NH) Wayne Helliwell, Jr.
3. (60) DJ Shaw
4. (15MA) Jake Johnson
5. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
6. (50) Gabe Brown
7. (7CT) Cory Casagrande
8. (72) Ryan Kuhn
9. (18) Michael Scorzelli
10. (4) Joey Polewarczyk
11. (21) Josh King
12. (81) Dan Winter
13. (60M) Mike Mayberry
14. (7B) Isaac Bevin
DNS (36) Dave Silvia