Talk about a rebound.
DJ Shaw held off a battery of Seekonk Speedway locals to take the win in Saturday afternoon’s DAV Fall Classic at the storied Massachusetts bullring.
The win was Shaw’s third Pro All Stars Series victory of 2021, and his second straight after an early exit from August’s Oxford 250.
Angelo Belsito and David Darling led laps early, but it was Shaw who came on strong down the stretch. Shaw took the lead from Darling in the final third of the race. From there, the five-time and reigning PASS North champion set sail for his second win at the “Cement Palace.”
If there were any home-track regular to beat, Darling was the easy favorite. The Seekonk native wrapped up a record-setting eighth Pro Stock championship a week ago. Darling, who finished sixth in July’s $10,000-to-win Bay State Classic, held on for second, his first PASS podium since a 2010 series win.
Charging to third in the closing laps was Tom Scully, Jr., another Seekonk veteran with a PASS win at the track in 2009. Scully, the 2016 Seekonk Pro Stock champion but only an occasional touring racer, earned his first PASS top-five finish in over ten years.
Rookie Jake Matheson crossed the line fourth, matching his best result of the season. Belsito, who started the year racing with the Granite State Pro Stock Series but has raced sparingly since this summer, faded to fifth at the end.
Seekonk Pro Stock weekly runner-up Ryan Kuhn finished sixth, ahead of Eddie MacDonald, the only Massachusetts driver in the field not to graduate from regular competition at Seekonk. Dylan Estrella was eighth. Dan Winter was the highest-finishing PASS full-timer in ninth, with Bobby Pelland III rounding out a stout top-ten showing for Seekonk racers.
Both Shaw and Darling’s cars bore battle scars from an early wreck in which Travis Benjamin and Kevin Folan got together racing in the top five. Benjamin slid up the track into Johnny Clark, stuffing the PASS point leader into the backstretch wall and ending his day after only five laps. A passing shower shortly afterward soaked the track enough to require a pause in the action.
Following Winter in ninth, JR Robinson was 13th, Kate Re 15th and Ben Rowe 16th, with Anthony Constantino rounding out the six PASS full-time competitors with a 19th-place finish.
Shaw would be in the championship conversation, too, had he not skipped a race at Oxford early in the season. Focusing on the American-Canadian Tour Late Model championship instead, Shaw had only won once, at Oxford, through the end of August. A front-row starting berth in the Oxford 250 ended in a mid-race spin and an early exit for the Center Conway, N.H. veteran.
But after two weeks off, Shaw drove to victory at White Mountain Motorsports Park, then went back-to-back with his Seekonk victory. Intriguingly, Shaw’s wins this year are all at tracks where he had won previously, but did so several years ago. His prior win at Seekonk was in 2012; before this year, his last points-paying wins at Oxford and WMMP were in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Shaw’s three wins lead the PASS North tour, with Johnny Clark, Cassius Clark, Joey Doiron and Joey Polewarczyk each winning twice so far. And while Shaw was over 300 points back of the lead entering Saturday’s event, he has crept past full-timer Constantino to sit sixth in the standings overall.
This year’s running of the DAV Fall Classic was the first under PASS’ sanctioning. The annual Pro Stock showdown, named for track patriarch D. Anthony Venditti, was a staple of the track’s own schedule through 2018. After scheduling conflicts and low turnout plagued that year’s race, the Granite State Pro Stock Series sanctioned the 2019 running. Angelo Belsito, a 2015 Seekonk track champion, took his first GSPSS win in the event.
GSPSS was slated to sanction the 2020 event as well, but the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to those plans. Seekonk, grouped with other large sporting facilities in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, was unable to host spectator events through the year, and the track’s weekly Pro Stock/Late Model program and major events were all wiped from the schedule. Darling, a multi-time winner of the DAV Fall Classic, won the GSPSS’ make-up event at New London-Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl.
PASS, absent from Seekonk since Shaw’s 2012 win, returned to the Cement Palace in 2018. For two years, the track hosted PASS’ season finale. Two races were scheduled for 2020, both canceled by the pandemic. Johnny Clark won PASS’ first visit to Seekonk this year, the inaugural Bay State Classic in July.
A third trip to Massachusetts awaits the PASS faithful, with a season-ending tripleheader uniting PASS, the ACT Late Models, and the Tri-Track Open Modified Series in late October.
Unofficial Results, PASS DAV Fall Classic 150 at Seekonk Speedway:
1. (60) DJ Shaw
2. (52) David Darling
3. (2) Tom Scully, Jr.
4. (52NH) Jake Matheson
5. (8) Angelo Belsito
6. (72MA) Ryan Kuhn
7. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
8. (46) Dylan Estrella
9. (81) Dan Winter
10. (12) Bobby Pelland III
11. (17R) Ryan Ripley
12. (48) Derek Gluchacki
13. (20) JR Robinson
14. (02) Brian Whalley
15. (10) Kate Re
16. (4) Ben Rowe
17. (40) Mike Mitchell
18. (11RI) Ryan Vanasse
19. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
20. (39) Nick Lascuola
21. (17) Kevin Folan
22. (17P) Joey Peaslee
23. (1) Darryl Stampfl
24. (88) Kevin Casper
25. (54) Johnny Clark
26. (7) Travis Benjamin
27. (15MA) Jake Johnson