The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Models traveled to Virginia's South Boston Speedway on Saturday night and after 150 green flag laps Andy Loden drove to victory lane to earn his first win of the 2011 racing season.
24 drivers hit the track under the sunny skies and Preston Peltier made it two fast times in a row with a 15.049-second lap. Cale Gale, Loden, Philip Morris, Daniel Hemric, Jody Lavender, Justin Wakefield, Stephen Nasse, Ryan Blaney and David Quackenbush rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.
After the redraw Wakefield and Morris started on the front row. Wakefield got a good jump on the start to lead lap one with Morris settling in behind in second. Lavender, Blaney and Quackenbush ran in the top-five positions early.
Debris from two cars making contact while avoiding Hemric’s slowing car brought out the first caution at lap seven. Hemric was able to get his car to pit road, but was out for the event.
On the restart Wakefield held the point as Lavender tried to make a bid for second, but had to settle for the third position. A few laps later Morris made his move, taking the lead from Wakefield. During the first third of the race Blaney, Quackenbush and Nasse moved their way into the top five.
Prior to the halfway mark the yellow flag flew several times for incidents involving Ryan Reed, Quackenbush, Scott Saunders, Steve Legendre, Spencer Wauters, and others. At the crossed flags Morris held the top spot over Wakefield, Mitchell, Loden and Nasse.
On a restart just a few laps past halfway Wakefield dropped his machine in front of Morris to take the lead but a few corners later contact sent Wakefield’s sideways and almost in the wall in turn four. He was able to hold on but lost a few positions as Morris regained the lead.
After a caution involving Saunders and Weller, Trey Mitchell started on the outside of Morris, edging his way to the lead just before the yellow flag flew again as Alex Fleming’s car came to a stop in turn one after contact with another driver.
With Mitchell on the inside and Morris on the outside, Morris took the lead back with Mitchell dropping back through the field, moving Nasse and Wakefield up to the second and third positions. A few laps later, Mitchell brought his car to pit road to the service of his crew.
At lap 100, Morris led Nasse, Wakefield, Loden, Blaney, Peltier, Gale, Gaulding, Lavender and Hindman.
Loden was the driver on the move over the last 50 laps , using the high line to move into third around Wakefield, then drove to the high side once again to take second from Nasse with just 30 laps to go. When Loden got to the bumper of Morris, he dove low and made the winning move with less than 22 laps remaining.
At lap 141 the yellow flag flew for Gale’s car going around in turn four, setting up a dash to the checkered flag. On the restart with Loden and Morris side by side, Morris tried everything he could to get the lead, but Loden held the top spot while Peltier hit the “go button” trying to work his way to the front.
With a few laps to go Peltier worked his way to second, and on the white-flag lap he put a nose under Loden in turn one but the defending series champion wasn’t able to hold it on the bottom. Loden crossed the finish-line first, taking the victory, the fifth-different winner in PASS South 2011 competition.
“The car was really good,” said Loden. “We can say we beat Philip Morris here. That was a good race with Philip. He drove me clean. There was a little bumping and grinding, but that was fine.
“I am happy to finally get some luck and have things go our way. It feels good to finally get here.”
Most of the passes made throughout the race were made on the low side, but Loden used the high side to move towards the front..
“Running down on the bottom, it got a little free there. So I moved up to see what it would do, and it stuck. So I decided to stay up there. We ran a clean race and came home with the win.”
With three second-place finishes in the first four races, Peltier was looking for a victory, but fell one position short at the end.
“Andy had struggled a little bit at the beginning of the season, but they are back on their game,” said Peltier. “To lose to them is really not that big of a deal. The guys gave me a great car.
“Man, there is one thing for sure. If it comes down to the end of the race and I am in the top three I am going to put on a show. I tried to steal a win, but came up just a little short.”
Morris, who was making his debut in the PASS South Series, tried to be the third first-time winner in a row this season, but wasn’t able to pull off the win finishing third.
“The car was a lot better than I was probably showing,” said Morris. “This thing has a ton of horsepower and it is so easy to spin the tires, so I was just trying to keep the back end underneath me and keep it going straight. It started coughing out water there at the end and I couldn’t hold onto it anymore.
“We didn’t have a transmission for the restarts here at this track. We were off on that. I am thankful to get to race with these guys. I have a lot of respect for them and what they go through. It is definitely tire management, something we don’t do in Late Models.”
Nasse and Blaney rounded out the top five.
PASS South will be back in action at Motor Mile Speedway (VA) on Saturday, May 28th, which is also round two pf the 2011 PASS National Championship series. For more information on the Pro All Stars Series, go to www.proallstarsseries.com.