By MIKE MALLETT
Billy Pauch Jr., has asserted himself this season as the man to beat in the South Region of the Short Track Super Series. The Frenchtown, N.J., driver is simply on his game right now.
On Sunday night he continued his domination of the series at BAPS Motor Speedway with his second win in four races to go along with two other top five finishes. He is the only driver in the South Region to have four top five finishes in the four events.
“Tonight, we were good,” commented Pauch afterwards while celebrating with a cold beverage on a hot day. “I don’t know what it is. This car rolls. It’s a little more traditional than most people are right now with style, setups and stuff. It just drives off. I don’t know what to say.”
The restart to the season hadn’t gone well for Pauch as he suffered a couple of mechanical failures down south during the swing through the Carolinas. Since then, his Rick Holsten team has been on its game. They have multiple wins on the Short Track Super Series and in regular Modified action in the Northeast.
“We are a little old school with a bunch of people that help out and it works out well,” stated Pauch. “We’ve been really good. We went to New Egypt for two shows and finished second and won the other one. It’s just awesome.”
Finishing behind Pauch were Stewart Friesen and Matt Sheppard. Two guys that he’s finished behind more times than he can count. So far in 2020 in the South Region, they’ve finished behind him more than he’s finished behind them.
“This one is pretty huge for me,” mentioned Pauch. “Those two have kicked my butt. I don’t know how many times I’ve finished third behind them.”
Pauch started from the outside of the fifth row. That didn’t deter him. He was in the top five in a flash as he got a great run on the top of the track at the start. It was something he learned the last time he was at BAPS back in June.
“If I remember right, when we were here back in June for that first race, they watered the top,” cited Pauch. “We went up there at the start and I kept my foot in it and got up to fourth. We did the same thing before and it stuck. Sometimes it doesn’t stick, but that is what got me up front and got me rolling.
“I think I was good coming through, but you have to catch the breaks in these races. Stuff has to go your way a little bit, unless you are Stew and you can drive from the back to the front. He’s phenomenal, in another league.”
Once up front, Pauch bided his time. He waited until the right opportunity to make his move on Rick Laubach to take the lead, which he did on lap 33.
He faced several challenges in traffic as well as threats from Sheppard after taking command. Then a caution cleared the track in front of him while also bringing Sheppard and Friesen up to his back bumper. He did what he had to do on the restart to keep the lead.
“Michael Jordan always said you have to rise to the occasion,” stated Pauch. “I was going to be pissed if I stepped on it. I knew if I got a good restart, which I did off of four, I was going to be good. I gave him a little room. I didn’t want to crowd him too bad. If I got though one and two I was going to be good. Once I got through there, I knew I was going to be okay.”
He was certainly okay as he drove away from the duo for the $5,000 win and a 45 point advantage over Friesen leading into the next Short Track Super Series event.