CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Excitement continues to build for the teams of the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model division as the 10th Annual North South Shootout looms just around the corner.
For the second time in the 10-year history of the race, North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway will be hosting the short track “Mega-Event.” The PASS South super late models will race for 150 green flag laps and, for the first time, will share top billing with the Tour Modifieds.
This year’s race will have an added element of importance as it will award points towards both the PASS South and PASS National Championships. Caraway Speedway’s .455-mile layout will present racers from various disciplines of short track racing with tough challenges in the North South Shootout, but it’s a challenge the PASS South stars have shown they are ready to tackle.
In September’s Labor Day Classic at Caraway, PASS South points leader Kyle Grissom took a third straight checkered flag to boost his season’s win total to five. But, it was far from easy for him. Grissom took an early lead, avoided a wild race behind him, and was able to retake the lead from a speedy Jay Fogleman on a late race restart to secure the win.
“Caraway is a tough track and we were fortunate to start out front in the last race which helped me to take care of my car better,” said Grissom, who is in his first full season of PASS South competition. “It’s going to be exciting to race against a tough field of South regulars, along with the North guys that are coming down.”
While PASS North recently wrapped up its season at Oxford (Maine) Plains Speedway by crowning Travis Benjamin as the champion, PASS South is currently in the midst of its longest break of the season. And, without a doubt, one of the hottest drivers in the series has to be Ross Kenseth.
After a subpar middle of the season, the last two PASS South races have seen Kenseth finish third at Hickory and win the prestigious All American 400 at Nashville.
“A big part of it, I think, is just races finally coming together for us,” said Kenseth. “We have had some speed in our cars all year, but have been inconsistent from week to week and that has been extremely frustrating. I think the last few weeks have just shown how good we can be when everything comes together, but there are always ways to improve. We still have a lot of work to do and some more races to go out and win.”
Ironically, Caraway might have played a big role in Kenseth’s recent success, but not how you might think. Kenseth and his Butch Miller led crew sat out the race at Caraway in September to regroup, a decision that seems to have paid off in the short term. And despite skipping that race in September, Kenseth is optimistic about his chances for the North South Shootout.
“I’m really excited and I don’t see why we can’t go out and compete for the win with guys like Kyle (Grissom) and Preston (Peltier), who are always tough to beat,” said Kenseth. “At Hickory, I think we had a pretty fast car but were just lacking that little bit to go up there and contend, so hopefully we can build off our momentum and make those guys earn it.”
While the last two races have been great for Kenseth, the same cannot be said for Grissom. While Grissom still leads the PASS South points, the top four are separated by just 24 points after Grissom quietly rode to a 5th place finish at Hickory and struggled to a 20th place showing in the All American 400.
“The points race definitely tightened up after we had bad luck at Nashville,” said Grissom. “We’re trying to get these new tires figured out, so it’s going to be tough trying to keep the points lead. All we can do is go out and try to win.”