Travis Benjamin may not have been able to claim the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North Super Late Model Series championship on Sunday afternoon at Seekonk Speedway (MA), but he ended the season on a high note with a win in their 150-lap season finale at The Cement Palace.
Benjamin muscled to the inside of Ryan Vanasse to take the lead with 22 laps remaining and didn’t look back, taking the win at a track that holds a special place in Benjamin’s heart.
“I got my first win here when I was eighteen,” Benjamin said. “That was a long time ago. I’ve always been close to getting another win but I could never seal the day, but finally today we got it.”
Despite his joy with the win, Benjamin felt remorse for the physical nature of his pass for the lead, apologizing to Vanasse and his team. The contact shuffled Vanasse backwards through the field, before he ultimately finished sixth.
“I really didn’t want to be on the outside on that last restart,” Benjamin explained. “I didn’t know if I could run out there. It seemed like I’d overdrive corner entry. I thought I had him cleared once, then the next corner I went down and overdrove corner entry and he’d get back down beside me. Here, drivers take a weird arc into the corner. That’s what he did. He arced it into the corner, I kind of stuck my nose in there and when I did I kind of moved him.
“I hate racing like that,” Benjamin added. “I apologize to him and his whole crew. They had an awesome car and they didn’t deserve that. But you know, we did it.”
Despite the win, Benjamin came up just short in the chase for the PASS North Super Late Model Series title hunt. D.J. Shaw claimed the series’ championship after a seventh-place finish. Unofficially, Shaw ended the season with an eight-point lead over Benjamin in the standings.
“It was a pretty bad day in the long haul but we regrouped and made a pit stop just when it counted, got back out there and got the spots we needed just barely,” Shaw said. “It was a good team effort today and nobody gave up.
“It fired off great and I got sixth there and I just couldn’t get enough of a run under the 90 (Craig Weinstein) to stay in there and make the pass,” Shaw added. “It just stopped going. We made a bleeder adjustment, a stagger adjustment there on the pit stop and it crunched it to get to the end. We still had way too much. We made an adjustment after the heat on tire pressures and we learned not to do that. At least we didn’t throw it all away with that adjustment.”
For Shaw, the story of the season was consistency, as his 11 top-fives and 16 top-10 finishes buoyed him in the points tally.
“Consistency won us this one really,” Shaw said about the championship chase. “It wasn’t a super flashy year, but we were in the top five most weeks. We got to still work on not having weeks like we had at Beech Ridge and keep getting better. We rebounded well at Oxford. That’s my biggest takeaway from the year, finishing off the year with a top three at a flat track. I’m excited about that.”
Benjamin did not let the title picture impact his race today, focusing on getting the best finish possible and letting the points settle themselves.
“I’m very happy with today,” Benjamin said. “We’ve kind of been hit or miss a lot of the season. Today, we did what we had to do and let the cards fall as they may. DJ, they’ve had a better year than us all year so they kind of deserve it. But hey, we did all we could.
“You know what? I don’t points race,” Benjamin added. “I really, really don’t. I just want to win. We come to do what we did today, and today was a great day.”
Reid Lanpher, who won the U.S. Pro Stock/SLM Nationals at Seekonk in July, scored a runner-up finish on this afternoon.
“We’ve had some good luck getting this thing to turn well around this place,” Lanpher said. “Earlier in the year we didn’t expect to have the speed we did. This place is fun, it’s violent though. It’s beating and banging, slipping and sliding out there, without a doubt.
“We did so much stuff wrong, not intentionally wrong on our part, but we got shuffled back a couple times and had to pit,” Lanpher said about his race. “The car was fast. Without one of the three major hiccups, I think we would’ve had a great shot. I’m not going to lie; I did a horrible job saving my stuff throughout that race. It was kind of one of those were I had to go, had to go.”
Race fans who missed the action at Seekonk Sunday, including the PASS North season finale and the Haunted Hundred Tri-Track Open Modified Series event, can catch up on everything they missed on Speed51.com. Click here to view Trackside Now updates from the race, or click here to order our on-demand broadcast of the day’s racing.
-Story by Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor / Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com