Clark shadowed Ben Rowe through the middle stages of the race, as the two set a blistering pace. By lap 95, the top two had nearly a half-lap lead on third-place runner Johnny Clark. A pair of caution periods tightened things up considerably though and Cassius Clark took the lead on lap 100.
“I didn’t think that our car was that good at the beginning of the race,” said Cassius Clark. “Then we started coming to the front and got behind Benji (Rowe). When we started lapping cars, mine was good on the outside, so we got by him there.”
“We were better than he was until around lap 80,” said Ben Rowe. “Then I got a little bit tight and he was better than I was at that point.”
Once Clark got to the lead, he though it would be clear sailing to victory lane. But that thinking was a little bit premature. A rash of caution periods late in the race tightened up the margin between Clark and Rowe.
“I was cruising to the victory I thought, but then we had those final restarts,” said Clark. That made it interesting that’s for sure.”
A CLARK BEATS A ROWE AT BEECH RIDGE by Mike Twist
This Time It's Cassius Over Ben After Late Race Battle
When the PASS North Super Late Models went to Beech Ridge on Sunday, the race was divided among generational lines.
While Rowe and Clark escaped their mess unharmed, the same could not be said for several other cars behind them. Alan Tardiff, Travis Benjamin and Johnny Clark all saw parts of their bodies get ripped off while checking up for the incident. Joey Porciello, Bubba Pelton and Chris Kennison were all involved, as were eventual top-10 finishers Corey Williams and Paul White. There was a lot of carnage that resulted from one battle for the lead.
“We came out of it okay, but I hated that we wrecked guys behind us on that deal,” said Rowe. “That was my only issue.”
“We stacked up a few of them behind us and I feel bad about that,” said Clark.
For the most part, the outside lane was the fast one at Speedway 95. Here, Scott Chubbuck noses his #29 ahead fo Cassius Clark (#8) on a restart. (Norm Marx Photo)
The most interesting moments of all came after a restart with only nine laps to go. Rowe pulled ahead of Clark on the outside for the lead and a quick caution came out.
“I would have never been so close to him if it wasn’t for the cautions at the end,” said Rowe. “My only chance was to pin him down to the rumble strips. I knew that he was free up off [the corner]. Then the caution came out and it worked.”
On that next restart, Rowe did everything that he could do to hold off Clark, but the raw speed belonged Clark’s #8 car. They battled for one lap before Clark got a huge run on Rowe and pulled off a slick cross-over move going into turn one. It was confirmed that two cars can’t fit into the same space at the same time when Clark and Rowe both reached turned one. Clark hit Rowe, who spun up the track and brought out the caution.
“I don’t think that he realized how well that I got off turn four there and how much of a run that I had on him,” said Clark. “We got together a little bit. I kept it in there and he spun around a little bit. Luckily, he was okay.”
Well, Clark was mistaken about one thing. Rowe did realize the run that Clark had on him. He just didn’t want to give up the lead easily.
“I saw him out there, so I pushed up a little more than I should have on the frontstretch,” said Rowe. “When he crossed under, I thought that maybe he would lift but he wasn’t going to lift with 10 laps to go. That was both of our faults. He could have lifted, but I could have stayed up. That’s how he and I race anywhere – it doesn’t matter if it is here or Thompson. It’s fun racing like that.”
Three of the most accomplished drivers in New England stock car racing over the past two decades – Dave Dion, Kelly Moore and Mike Rowe all led laps early. But just before halfway in the event, the guard changed as second generation racers Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe took command of the race and fought for the race victory, with Clark coming out on top in a sprint to the finish to win his fifth race of the 2006 season.
The race took three attempts to run, [the original date of August 20th and a rain date set for one week later were both washed out], but fans were rewarded for their patience on Sunday by a pit filled with 45 Super Late Models, mild weather and a several late-race battles to decide the order of the top five finishers.
Mike Rowe and Moore led from the green flag, but Dion was the early star of the show. The legendary driver of the orange #29 Ford worked the outside groove to move from his starting position of sixth to the lead by lap nine. His lead was short-lived though as Ben Rowe put his #4 up front on lap 28 and took control of the event.
After two rainouts at Beech Ridge, Sunday was a nice clear day. Front row starters Mike Rowe and Kelly Moore both were up front early, but a pair of younger drivers stole the show. (51 Photo)
That was it as far as a spirited battle for the victory. Clark held off Rowe for the race win, but another Clark/Rowe battle kept fans on their feet until the finish line. Mike Rowe nipped Johnny Clark for third place right at the finish.
“We got lucky,” said Mike Rowe. “We got Johnny on the last lap.”
When Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe emerged from their cars in victory lane, there were not any cross words or accusations about their tangle. They shook hands instead.
Ben Rowe buckles into his #4 car. He would lead much of the middle portion of the Beech Ridge race. (51 Photo)
45 cars were in the pit area at Beech Ridge, which made for a strong starting field of 32. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“That was fun really,” said Cassius Clark. “We always have fun racing each other. We had a pretty good race there at the end.”
“It’s fun racing with him,” said Ben Rowe. “He ran that thing sideways for three-quarters of the race and I sat there and watched him.”
The two also reflected on the fact that their fathers. Mike Rowe and Billy Clark fought some close battles through the years.
“I get along great with Billy Clark,” said Ben Rowe. “I talk to him two or three times every week at the racetrack. He’s super to me and he’s helped me before. If Billy hadn’t had his accident, he’d be in one of these things now having fun. It goes right back to the Rowes and the Clarks. I sat in the grandstands watching those two races for years.”
Cassius Clark in victory lane. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“You think about that after the race and it’s pretty neat,” said Cassius Clark. “When I’m out there, he’s just another car that I want to beat.”
Behind the Rowes and the Clarks were a mixed bag of racers. Oxford 250 winner and PASS newbie Jeremie Whorff finished fifth after receiving the lucky dog pass twice late in the race, Corey Williams took sixth and was followed by Speedway 95 regular Paul White, Beech Ridge regulars Bill Rodgers and Curtis Gerry and PASS North consistency king Richie Dearborn.
With his fourth place finish, Johnny Clark has now unofficially taken over the PASS North point lead from
Scott Chubbuck. Only 21 points separate Clark, Chubbuck and Mike Rowe with four events remaining on the 2006 schedule.
Speed51.com will have more Beech Ridge coverage with our Leftovers from the race, later this week as the PASS North teams prepare for their trip to White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) this Saturday night.
The #8 team packs it in after a long, and rewarding, day at the track. (Jamie Williams Photo)