This weekend at Seekonk Speedway, history will be made as the Northeast will celebrate the first driver since Mike Rowe to win the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model and American-Canadian Tour Late Model titles. The only question remaining: which of two drivers will be the one to do it?
Five-time PASS North champion D.J. Shaw has won three of them the past three years, but while Johnny Clark is poised to take the 2021 PASS North title, Shaw still has an opportunity to make it a fourth-straight title season overall.
Just one point back for the ACT Late Model title coming into the season ending Haunted Hundred, Shaw will take on four-time PASS North and five-time PASS National champion Ben Rowe for the honors in ACT for 2021.
Shaw had just a handful of ACT starts prior to 2020, but had an opportunity to run with the No. 04VT Arny Hill Motorsports last season. In the COVID-19 shortened nine-race slate, Shaw recorded four Top 5’s, and was never outside the Top 10; riding his consistency to runner-up in the standings behind Jimmy Hebert. The past two ACT seasons are something that the Center Conway, NH native would not have envisioned 18 months ago.
“Not really, it wasn’t even on my radar until last year when we went race to race, kept doing good, and with the shortened schedule it worked out. Then they wanted to do it again this year and here we are,” Shaw told Speed51.
His relationship with No. 04VT team, which also has been running a chassis built in the Dale Shaw Racecars shop this year, has become rock solid since they first teamed up in 2020.
"It’s pretty good really, it’s a fortunate situation where they do everything, and I just meet them at the track. They do a good job with it, it’s a good group to work with to run up front, and hopefully I can get them what they deserve."
Overcoming a disqualification which stripped him of what would have been a career first ACT win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the season’s first points race, Shaw has recorded seven Top 5’s, once again never finishing outside the Top 10 in the proceeding ten races; also getting redemption at Lee USA Speedway in May when he scored the race win.
Heading to Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts on Saturday, Shaw is confident for both 100-lap ACT and PASS features. After nearly a decade between PASS wins at ‘The Action Track of the East’, Shaw took the trophy in the D.A.V. Fall Classic just a month ago; putting him in position for two-straight Seekonk PASS wins and a first in ACT there.
“Seekonk has been a struggle for a while, but then we got the second there earlier this year, and then we got the win last month. Before that I hadn’t won there since PASS ran on American Racers, it had been a long time. To finally have something working on Hoosiers is awesome, hopefully it continues on Saturday.”
Boasting confidence with his No. 60 PASS car and nailing down the race day schedule of going from ride to ride, Shaw’s main focus will be on the ACT title; admitting that sweeping both winner’s trophies will be a challenge with a title at steak.
“It’s just become routine now, more often then not we’re doing the double now. It’s nothing crazy. The ACT race, we’re only going to win if we have the dominant car, and obviously that’s the goal. You kind of play things differently when you just need to beat one guy, and that’s the focus before winning. If we can do all of it, that would be great. I don’t want to go there and have the attitude that I need to win, do something stupid and loose it all. If you can be conservative, you try to be, and go for the big picture.”
Come what may, Shaw is thankful to have what at one time was an unexpected opportunity, which he will have to earn against an unexpected opponent. Ben Rowe’s rise in ACT starting last year has been an equally pleasant surprise for the Northeast racing community, with both drivers now taking their decade long clash in PASS over to the ACT.
"We’ve raced together for a long time and now we’re going up for it in a totally different discipline of car. It’s a unique opportunity for both of us, and hopefully we’re the ones to come out on top."
The Haunted Hundred at Seekonk Speedway this Saturday, October 23 will feature 100-lap season ending events for the American-Canadian Tour Late Models, Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models, and Tri-Track Open Modified Series. Post time is 1pm ET and will be live on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51