There was a hug in victory lane, as Ben Rowe threw his arm around his father's shoulder at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. On this day, at least for one of Maine's all-time most successful racing families, the old adage held true.
If you're going to lose, lose to blood.
"Absolutely," said 4-time and defending series champion Ben Rowe. "If I can't win, he's the one I want to see win."
Ben got his wish on Saturday, as Mike made won the PASS North Series Cabin Fever 150. Mike won by just 0.010 seconds -- the 2nd closest margin of victory in series history. Only Ben's 2003 win over Johnny Clark at Unity Raceway was by a narrower margin.
As Ben drove under Mike through turn 4 and the 2 cars steamrolled their way under the flagstand, Ben said he knew he'd been beaten.
"I knew it," Ben said. "I looked over and I could see that his car was just ahead of me."
Mike had no idea and -- if you believe it from one of the most hard-nosed racers this area has ever seen -- said it didn't matter to him either way.
"It was awesome," Mike said. "I didn't care if I won or lost. Either way, it was good racing him across the line."
In an understated fashion, Mike marveled at just how close the finish had been.
"Yeah, that's close," Mike said.
Mike Rowe had been trailing Cassius Clark by a 2-second margin with less than 30 laps remaining, but a restart on lap 128 allowed Rowe to restart on the outside of the front row. He pulled away with a great restart and seemed to be in cruise control. Ben Rowe had been forced to pit some 20 laps earlier with 2 flat right side tires -- starting his charge from 20th place with 45 laps to left to race.
Ben had pulled up to sixth by the time the caution flew for the 14th of 15 times on the day, and he was third, right behind his father, on a lap 148 restart.
Ben ran the inside line while his father held the outside throughout the final lap.
"I ran off of (turn) 4 and just flat-footed it," said Mike, who saw the turn 1 wall fast approaching. "I thought I was going to go off through the tires down there."