MIDLAND, N.C. – Neither Matt Craig nor Ben Rowe were in contention for the win at all in Saturday’s Pro All Stars Series season-ending Mason Dixon Meltdown at Concord Speedway, but they both ran just well enough to claim championship trophies on Saturday afternoon.
Craig – who entered the day four points behind championship rival Kodie Conner – qualified second for the 125-lap feature and largely hung in the top five for the first half of the event, but faded through the final 50 circuits of the Mason Dixon Meltdown and finished a quiet sixth.
However, Craig’s goal for the day was simple: beat out Conner by two positions or more in order to secure his first-career major touring series championship.
Craig did better than that, putting a total of eight positions between he and Conner – who struggled all race long with a throttle issue – en route to winning the South’s oldest super late model crown by 12 points.
“There was times when the car was there today, but I don’t think we could have contended with the front three, honestly,” Craig admitted. “I let Clay (Rogers) and a few of the guys I was racing with towards the end go because I knew all we had to do was beat the 45 (of Conner) by two positions to claim the crown.”
“It feels really good to seal this deal,” added the Kannapolis, N.C. teenager. “After a whole year of racing … just to have it come down to the last race, be that close and then for us to be the best of all the competitors that ran the series this year … it means a lot.”
The title is the first for Craig in full-bodied stock car competition.
Meanwhile, Rowe clinched his fourth-career PASS National Championship simply by taking the green flag for the 125-lap main event, but struggled in the main event and finished 15th.
“We were just way too loose,” Rowe said of his race car. “We were real good (in practice) on Thursday and Friday, but we started off free as all and got behind as we tried to tighten the car up. Once that happens in this field, you just can’t make the spots up … so I just made sure I kept it in one piece, didn’t do anything stupid and didn’t wreck it.”
“It wasn’t the day we wanted. But it’s still a good day.”
Despite the rough outing, Rowe said collecting the spoils of another championship was as sweet as ever for he and his No. 4N Richard Moody & Sons race team.
“Anytime you win a championship, it’s special. We all start off with the same shot at winning this national deal. A lot of guys start out going after it, and then they drop out when they don’t do so well … or don’t come to the last few (races). We just stayed the course.”
“To win four national championships … I can’t thank (car owner) Richard Moody enough for what he and all my guys do for me on this team. Each one is different … but this one is definitely an important one for us.”
Rowe becomes the first driver in Pro All Stars Series history to win the national championship four times.
The 2017 PASS South and PASS National title trails kicks off Feb. 3-4 at South Carolina’s Dillon Motor Speedway.
Audio with PASS South champion Matt Craig:
Audio with PASS National champion Ben Rowe:
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as both the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series and the co-track announcer at Millbridge Speedway.
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