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Kuhn Dominates $10K Bay State Classic For First PASS Win

The PASS North points leader backed up his recent consistency with his first-ever touring Super Late Model win.

Ryan Kuhn, shown here in practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, picked up a long-awaited first career PASS North trophy in Wednesday's $10,000-to-win Bay State Classic. (STS/Jeff Brown archive photo)

A week and a half after taking the Pro All Stars Series North championship lead, Ryan Kuhn justified his presence atop the mountain.

Kuhn turned in a dominant performance in Wednesday’s Bay State Classic at Seekonk Speedway, winning his first career PASS North race in the second running of the big mid-summer event.

The victory was a long time coming for the Seekonk alumnus, who celebrated the $10,000 victory in front of his home-state crowd at the last paved track in Massachusetts.

Kuhn made spot starts in touring competition in 2017 and 2018 while racing full-time at Seekonk. After clinching the Late Model championship at the “Cement Palace,” the East Bridgewater, Mass. native made the move to the American-Canadian Tour for 2019. Kuhn failed to qualify for one race, but finished in the top ten seven times with a best result of third, ending the year third in the standings as a rookie.

Armed with a car purchased from Maine racer Mike Hopkins, Kuhn also increased his Super Late Model presence that season, winning the pole for the Oxford 250 and finishing second to Hopkins in the PASS season finale at Seekonk.

Kuhn returned to the ACT Tour full-time in 2020, repeating his rookie season with a third-place finish in points while making spot PASS starts. The young driver opted not to chase a championship on the road in 2021, though, focusing on weekly Pro Stock racing at Seekonk while making spot PASS starts in the Super Late Model.

A sixth-place run at Thompson Speedway in April laid the groundwork for Kuhn to make a full-time run at the PASS championship this year, but a blown tire at Stafford Motor Speedway while racing for the win and two poor finishes at Oxford started Kuhn deep in the hole with only one top-ten finish in his first five starts. A sixth-place finish at Seekonk in June helped to correct course, and Kuhn has not finished worse than eighth since.

Dave Darling, the reigning king of the “Cement Palace” with eight track championships, finished second in a strong run for the track’s weekly challengers. Darling, who has won the last four Pro Stock titles at Seekonk, finished second in last year’s PASS-sanctioned D.A.V. Fall Classic and backed up his performance Wednesday night.

Jake Johnson, who won his first Tour-type Modified race in Saturday’s Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series SBM 125 at Star Speedway, jumped back into a Super Late Model and finished third. Johnson’s stellar run completed a podium sweep for Seekonk racers.

Fourth place went to 2021 D.A.V. winner DJ Shaw, while Trevor Sanborn was fifth across the line.

Eddie MacDonald, who controlled the title chase until a spell of bad luck through the month of July, corrected course with a sixth-place finish. Gabe Brown was seventh, with June Seekonk winner Johnny Clark eighth. Maine’s Joe Pastore was ninth. Rounding out the top ten was Dan Winter, picking up his first top-ten finish of the year in what has been a trying season for last year’s championship runner-up.

Absent from Wednesday’s lineup, as anticipated, was Ben Rowe. The four-time PASS North champion and series ironman, who split with longtime car owner Richard Moody two weeks ago, broke a streak of 316 consecutive PASS North starts dating back to the organization’s first race in 2001. Joey Polewarczyk, in the Richard Moody Racing team’s sole #4 entry, raced with the leaders early but slid to 13th at the finish.

The second annual Bay State Classic continued a trend of big-ticket Super Late Model races falling to first-time winners in the last year. Gabe Brown won the Granite State Pro Stock Series’ $10,000-to-win event a year ago to take his first-ever touring win. Casey Call repeated the feat two weeks ago at Lee USA Speedway, claiming a $10,000 GSPSS bounty at Lee USA Speedway. In PASS competition, Austin MacDonald earned his first series win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in April. Kuhn’s winner’s purse is one of the largest prizes on the PASS schedule.

Kuhn entered the Bay State Classic as the points leader, and Wednesday’s win will add to his advantage over MacDonald and Brown with ten races complete. How the points shake out after PASS factors in a planned drop week will be evident in the next few days.

For now, all attention shifts to Oxford Plains Speedway and the Oxford 250 at the end of August. Only one more PASS points race, a 150-lap tune-up at Oxford in two weeks, is booked for the next month. That said, there are plenty of opportunities for drivers to get their laps in in anticipation of the big dance, with major weekly features and qualifying events at Oxford in the coming weeks.

Kuhn was one of several high-profile names to miss last year’s 250, joining Mike Hopkins, Stephen Nasse and Jeff Taylor on the sidelines. But his points position will almost certainly guarantee him a berth in the field.

And Wednesday night’s win might lend him the needed momentum to challenge for the trophy.

Unofficial Results, PASS North Bay State Classic 150 at Seekonk Speedway:
1. (72) Ryan Kuhn
2. (52D) David Darling
3. (15MA) Jake Johnson
4. (60) DJ Shaw
5. (29) Trevor Sanborn
6. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
7. (50) Gabe Brown
8. (54) Johnny Clark
9. (20) Joe Pastore
10. (81) Dan Winter
11. (40) Mike Mitchell
12. (02) Brian Whalley
13. (4NH) Joey Polewarczyk
14. (99ME) Ben Ashline
15. (52M) Jake Matheson
16. (56) Tommy Adams
17. (17RI) Vinnie Arrenegado
18. (39) Nick Lascuola
19. (18) Michael Scorzelli
20. (7B) Isaac Bevin
21. (76RI) Tyler Tomassi
22. (12) Bobby Pelland III
23. (17) Kevin Folan
24. (24J) J.P. Josiasse
25. (8B) Angelo Belsito
26. (48) Derek Gluchacki
27. (04) TJ Watson
28. (88) Brandon Barker

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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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