Roger Lee Newton held off a furious last lap charge by Trevor Noles that saw Noles spin across the finish line to win the 9th Annual Orange Blossom Special Saturday night for the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Models at Orange County Speedway. Newton’s second Orange Blossom Special victory puts him in elite company joining Preston Peltier as the only drivers to ever win the event more than once.
“I don’t know what it is about this place, but I love it,” said Newton after ending a winless streak dating back to 2011. “He (Noles) hit me, but that’s racing. It’s the last lap and you do anything to win. When he hit me, I just nailed the gas and it stuck. I don’t know what to say, I just can’t believe it.”
In qualifying, PASS South Super Late Model points leader Tyler Church edged out his car owner Peltier for the quick time with a lap of 97.826 miles per hour. Following the top ten qualifiers redraw, Church settled back into the seventh starting position while Newton and Brandon Ward moved to the front row.
At the drop of the green flag, Newton jumped out into the lead, but his time up front was short lived as Trevor Noles sped by to take the top spot on lap four. A race long battle would ensue throughout the event between Noles and Newton for the lead.
The driver on the move early on was Harrison Burton, making his first PASS South start at a track his father, Jeff, competed on many times early on in his racing career. After starting 11th, Burton had made his way around Derek Ramstrom for fourth just 14 laps into the race.
Following a spin by Tanner Rumburg in turn one on lap 30, the first major accident of the night occurred on the ensuing restart when Randy Gentry spun in turn three and collected Bill Catania and Kevin Powell. All three drivers would be through for the night.
On each restart of the night, Newton was able to get the best of Noles and lead for a couple of laps before Noles would overtake him on the longer runs of the race.
Just past halfway, veterans Brandon Ward and Preston Peltier saw their potentially strong runs come to an end. With 59 laps to go, Ward and Peltier made contact entering turn three while battling for third and their machines became momentarily stuck together. As their cars slowed, several cars crashed while trying to avoid them including Joe Heigl, rookie Trey Jarrell and local favorite Chad Kendrick. Both Ward and Peltier continued until Peltier broke a part entering turn 1 on lap 97 and backed his car into the wall. Ward eventually fell out due to steering problems.
Derek Ramstrom and Jody Measamer also had problems late in the race that ended their nights early. Ramstrom struggled with ignition problems before backing into the turn three wall on lap 121. Just three laps later, Measamer pounded the turn one wall after it appeared that his throttle stuck.
On the final restart of the race with 26 laps to go, Newton again got the advantage over Noles. With Newton content to run the high line around the 3/8 mile, high-banked speedway, Noles would draw alongside in the low groove lap after lap. As Newton and Noles raced for the lead, Church methodically made his way to third and was gaining on the leaders.
As the three leaders took the white flag, Newton and Noles raced side-by-side for the win with Church close behind. Entering turn three, Noles drove down deep into the corner pushing up into Newton as they exited turn four. Newton held on to take the victory as Noles spun across the finish line falling to third in the finishing order behind Church. Tyler Dippel finished fourth for his best career PASS South Super Late Model finish in front of Cole Timm who finished fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Burton, Brandon Setzer, Steve Halpin, Tate Fogleman, and Tanner Rumburg.
Lucas Jones took the lead from Greg Bohannon, Jr. with two laps to go and went on to win his first career PASS Pro Late Model race. Early race leaders Kodie Conner and Walker Yates were eliminated on lap 16 in a grinding crash in turn four. Following Jones and Bohannon at the checkered flag were Jacob Schneider, Matt Murphy, and Zachary Dabbs.
Alex Pacheco led every lap en route to the win in the Legends division over Dillon Spain, Grayson Massey, Jake Spillers, and Brandon McKenzie.
The PASS South Super Late Models and PASS Pro Late Models will be in action along with the Super Cup Stock Car Series and Legends cars on Saturday night April 19 at Hickory Motor Speedway for the 9th Annual Easter Bunny 150. Entry forms and the complete weekend schedule are now posted at ProAllStarsSeries.com.