DILLON, SC (February 4) – Third-generation racer Jared Irvan was able to move past leader Christian Eckes following a late-race restart and led the rest of the way to win the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model national season opener Saturday afternoon at Dillon Motor Speedway. Irvan’s win in the Winter Meltdown 200 was his first since capturing the checkered flag at Anderson Motor Speedway back in 2015.
“We both spun the tires a little bit on that last restart and ended up going into turn one too fast and I actually thought I went in too high, but he [Eckes] did too and I was able to come off with the lead,” said Irvan. “This is really big for our momentum for the rest of the year and hopefully we can get a little more sponsorship to help us through the rest of the year.”
In qualifying, Eckes edged out Tate Fogleman by five 1/1000ths of a second to claim his first career PASS quick qualifying time with a speed of 90.068 miles per hour. Following the top 10 qualifiers redraw, Eckes would slot in to the sixth starting position, while Derek Griffith and Chad McCumbee would move up to the front row.
Griffith led through a couple of early cautions before Eckes would take the top spot on a lap three restart. By lap five, the third caution of the day would already be waving as Jeff Batten and Eddie Fatcher collided in turn four and spun.
When the race went back green, Joey Polewarcyzk was able to get the better of Eckes on the restart and take the lead. Polewarcyzk stretched his lead until the caution waved again on lap 46 for hard contact with the inside wall by Kodie Conner. Back under green, Eckes moved by Polewarcyzk for the fourth lead change of the day, but the car on the move was 4-time PASS National Champion, Ben Rowe. Rowe started 11th, but had charged into second by lap 62. After another rash of caution periods, Rowe was able to take the lead from Eckes on lap 93.
Just five laps later, the caution would wave for the ninth time of the race when Roy Hayes, Jr. checked up to avoid the slowing car of Kyle Desouza and made hard contact with the front stretch wall. Again on the restart, the outside groove would prevail and Eckes would move by to take the lead from Rowe.
Following the competition caution on lap 125, Eckes continued to lead, but Spencer Davis, Irvan, and Bradley McCaskill were all becoming factors. Rowe lost ground to Eckes in lapped traffic, nearly being caught up with defending race winner, Brandon Setzer, with 24 laps to go. Three laps later, Irvan moved past Rowe for second and set his sights on Eckes. But, like Rowe, Irvan got tangled with the lapped machine of Polewarcyzk with 19 laps to go and had to go to the apron entering turn one to avoid an accident.
Irvan caught the break he needed when the final caution of the day waved with 14 laps to go for debris in turn two that came following contact between Tanner Thorson and JP Josiasse. On the restart, both Eckes and Irvan charged into turn one, but Irvan was able to take advantage of the banking on the outside, using the momentum to take the lead at the end of the backstretch. Irvan led the rest of the way to take the win over Eckes, McCaskill, Rowe, and Davis. Rounding out the top 10 were Dave Farrington, Jr., Gus Dean, Griffith, Setzer, and Fogleman.
The PASS South Super Late Models will be in action once again for 150 laps, along with the NASCAR Late Model Stocks, as part of the Dogwood 300 on Saturday, March 4th at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, NC. Entry forms will be available soon at ProAllStarsSeries.com. Be sure to “Like” the Pro All Stars Series on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @PASSSLM14.