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Mon, 10 Oct 2005, 01:55 PM

Patterson Back in Pro Mod Challenge Winner's Circle
Courtesy of Duke Ritenhouse
Photo copyright 2005 Auto Imagery, Inc.

ENNIS, Texas -- For Texas racer Thomas Patterson, his second AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge presented by TLR event this season in his home state turned out about 180 degrees different than his first.

Thomas Patterson
Patterson erased much of the sting from a disappointing DNQ earlier this season at his hometown race in Houston by coming from the No. 13 qualifying spot to win the O'Reilly Fall Nationals title Sunday in Dallas, sealing the deal with a final-round win over Steve Engel, who left before the Tree was activated. The win was the second on the Pro Mod Challenge tour for Patterson, who also claimed the 2002 Bristol title. Patterson also tied an AMS/TLR series record by winning from the No. 13 spot, which had only been accomplished once previously (Glen Kerunsky earlier this season in St. Louis).

Patterson's weekend in Dallas continued a second-half resurgence for the PMS Excavation team, which had struggled to make an impression in the early part of the 2005 season. Patterson is the only driver to win at least one eliminations round in each of the past seven Pro Mod Challenge events, a span in which he's also moved from ninth place to fourth in the AMS/TLR Cup points standings.

At the top of those same standings, Mike Ashley came close, but could not quite clinch his second consecutive AMS/TLR Cup world championship. Ashley, a first-round loser Saturday at the Fall Nationals, leads second-place Jay Payne by 591 points heading into the season-ending ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals in two weeks, with a maximum of 716 points available to either driver. Payne lost his bid for consecutive Pro Mod Challenge event wins when Patterson beat him by .007-second on a semifinal-round holeshot.

Ashley claiming his second title, though, is likely nothing more than a formality, as Payne faces two huge obstacles: first, he would need for Ashley to either DNQ or suffer another first-round loss; second, even if Ashley were to skip the Las Vegas event, Payne would need to set at least one half of the Pro Mod Challenge performance record at a facility considered to be an "altitude track" (Las Vegas Motor Speedway is 2,100 feet above sea level). Without setting at least one record, the maximum number of points Payne could earn in Las Vegas would be 516, or 76 points short of the minimum number needed to pass Ashley.

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