With one of last year’s top contenders for the Pro All Stars Series North championship absent last week at Oxford Plains Speedway, fans could be excused for thinking DJ Shaw’s road to a fifth series title became clearer.
But in Friday’s PASS North feature at White Mountain Motorsports Park, Nick Sweet served notice that July is still far too early to engrave a trophy.
Sweet took charge of the race on lap 66 and dominated the second half of the 150-lap event en route to his third win of the year and the sixth PASS North win of his career.
LOOKING BACK: Sweet flexes SLM muscle in second 2020 PASS win
Friday’s feature race, the fourth of the year, ran against the threat of rain as the North Woodstock, N.H. speedplant celebrated Independence Day with a two-day double-feature anchored by Saturday’s inaugural visit for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Early on, the race resembled the year’s prior two visits to WMMP, with six-time PASS North champion Johnny Clark setting the pace. Clark was sidelined with mechanical issues under the night’s first caution, handing the lead to Ben Rowe, who was anxious to end his own winless streak dating back to 2018.
Sweet, who started deeper in the pack courtesy of the feature winner’s handicap, was in second when the yellow flew on lap 66, and powered past Rowe on the outside to take the lead. Rowe’s bid for the win was derailed almost 30 laps later, when the four-time champion blew a tire to take him out of contention.
Another caution slowed the field with 30 laps remaining, but Sweet was unchallenged over the final green-flag sprint as he cruised home to another win.
The Barre, Vt. native, a two-time Thunder Road International Speedbowl “King of the Road” and the 2016 American-Canadian Tour champion, made his PASS debut in 2017 as he and car owner Eric Chase sought a new challenge. After breaking into the winner’s circle at Thunder Road in 2018, Sweet found sustained success in 2019, winning twice more and earning another five podium finishes to end the year fifth in points.
Gabe Brown, the 2018 Oxford Plains Speedway champion, wheeled a brand-new car to a career-best second place finish, improving on his third-place result from PASS’ last visit to WMMP in June. With two podium finishes in four PASS races this year, plus a fourth-place result in the Granite State Pro Stock Series’ season opener, the seventeen-year-old looks to be on track for his first career Super Late Model win.
Scott McDaniel overcame a flat tire to finish third, a career-best finish and the Livermore, Me. veteran’s first top-five finish of his PASS career. McDaniel finished sixth last week at Oxford, and has qualified for all four events this season after running a limited schedule since 2013.
Kelly Moore finished fourth in a car borrowed from son Ryan, with 2019 Oxford 250 winner Travis Benjamin finishing fifth. Austin Teras, Evan Hallstrom and Ben Rowe rounded out the eight finishers on the lead lap. Much like the previous PASS event at WMMP, mechanical attrition thinned the sixteen-car field, with DJ Shaw and Jeremy Davis dropping out early with drivetrain issues.
Sweet’s strong start to the season, combined with Shaw’s engine issues, should move him to the top of the points standings when official results are published. After early-season struggles last year, Travis Benjamin is solidly in contention for the championship as well, while the field continues to take shape behind them.
Interestingly, Friday’s feature was the first Friday-night PASS North event since September 2018, an event at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in support of the annual Vermont Milk Bowl. Nick Sweet was the winner that evening.
The next Pro All Stars Series North event is scheduled for July 18th, when the series will return home to Oxford Plains Speedway. Fan attendance has not yet been confirmed for the event.
Unofficial Results, Foley Oil & Propane 150 at White Mountain Motorsports Park:
1. (40) Nick Sweet
2. (47) Gabe Brown
3. (14) Scott McDaniel
4. (74) Kelly Moore
5. (7) Travis Benjamin
6. (29T) Austin Teras
7. (1VT) Evan Hallstrom
8. (4) Ben Rowe
9. (9T) Alan Tardiff
10. (99) Ben Ashline
11. (09) Jeremy Davis
12. (39) Cassius Clark
13. (10) Kate Re
14. (60) DJ Shaw
15. (29S) Trevor Sanborn
16. (54) Johnny Clark