FALMOUTH, Maine – The PASS North Series celebrates the halfway point of the season with two races in three days this week, and Lonnie Sommerville of Saint John, New Brunswick, plans to be right in the mix in both events.
Sommerville, third in the series standings, wants to use a Thursday night stop at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway and a Saturday night return to Oxford Plains Speedway to springboard his chances at the championship in the Mulkern Racing No. 48 A.E. McKay Builders Chevrolet.
“I think we do,” Sommerville said of the need to perform this week. “I think we have to be Top-4 or Top-5 every race from here on out, and still have (points leader Johnny Clark) have some trouble. Even if we win or finish on the podium, and he finishes a couple spots behind us, we're not gaining any points.”
Mulkern last ran his No. 84 Community Pharmacies Chevrolet at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, where Sommerville collected his first career PASS win earlier this month. Sommerville said the team's confidence is high in light of that trip to Victory Lane.
“I think it was a confidence booster for everybody,” Sommerville said. “We all thought we could do it. We all knew we could do it, and by doing it at Beech Ridge, it proved to all of us we could do the job as a team. I knew that everybody on that team could win races, because everybody has with other teams.
“It gives you something to build on, and it builds momentum. Confidence is everything in this sport. Look at Kyle Busch – he can go out and win two or three races a week all summer long, because he has that confidence that when he shows up he's going to win.”
Ironically, Busch is expected to be in the field for the Brackett Mechanical 150 at Oxford.
But before teams get to Oxford, they will compete in the PASS 100 at Thompson – the largest track the series competes on. The .625-mile, high-banked oval is a challenging horsepower track.
“It's a pretty awesome place, actually,” said Sommerville, who competed with his own team in this event a year ago. “It's fast, and it's a fun place to race.
“The big banked tracks, it's such a different way you drive them. Usually, they have a lot more grip than flat race tracks. Don't always have to save the tires so much, because there's grip naturally built in with the banking.”
Through the first seven races of the season, Sommerville has one win and five Top-5 finishes. He trails Clark by 62 points for the lead, and he's just 28 points out of second-place. After this weekend, only five races will remain in the season.
Sommerville said the grind of two events in a three-day span won't be as taxing as a similar Beech Ridge-Lee USA Speedway double was earlier this month, because the team plans on using two different cars this week.
Team manager Gary Crooks and crew chief Seth Holbrook will have a traditional setup and engine at Thompson, while they'll take their crate engine package to Oxford Plains.
“This week should be a lot of fun,” Sommerville said.