A rather uncommon problem struck just Clark then, as the right-rear brake rotor on his TDS Telecom/Clark’s Cars & Parts Monte Carlo shattered into pieces, throwing shrapnel into his power steering lines, and ejecting pieces out the back of the car. With Quebec’s Patrick Laperle glued to Clark’s rear bumper all night long, pieces of brake rotor headed straight into the path of Laperle’s Precision JLM/Demers Ambulances Monte Carlo.
PASS NORTH LEFTOVERS: CANAAN by Justin St. Louis
It's Cassius Again, Dearborn From the Back, Martin The Bridemaid and More
CASSIUS WINS AGAIN – BUT IT WASN’T AS EASY THIS TIME
Cassius Clark and his much talked-about two-barrel EJP, Inc./PEP Transportation Taurus have been absolutely chewing everyone up and spitting them out this season. They are undefeated in PASS North competition in 2006. At Canaan Fair Speedway (NH) last Saturday, Clark took his third straight victory.
it just worked out for us tonight. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Before the youngster came along, no one had swept the first three events of the Pro All Stars Series in a single season. There’s a chance Cassius may make it four in a row at Riverside Speedway.
“We won the pole and were leading with like three laps to go last year when an oil filter fell off,” Clark recalled, “but I still like that place.”
STRANGE SITUATION KNOCKS JOHNNY CLARK AND PATRICK LAPERLE OUT OF LEAD
So far, Farmingdale, ME’s Johnny Clark has had a season sub par to his own personal standards. After all, Clark is the only man other than Ben Rowe to win the PASS North championship since Rowe’s first title in 2002, and Clark has turned enough heads to make it into Jack Roush’s “Driver X” Gong Show. On Saturday night at Canaan Fair Speedway, Clark looked like a sure thing to make it to the winner’s circle for the first time this year. Other than a four-lap period when Rick Martin poked his nose in front, Clark had led every step of the way.
“I heard some wicked rattling,” Clark said matter-of-factly. “I was still leading for five or six laps and then I lost my brakes, and I said ‘Well, there’s not many laps left, I can hold on,’ but then it got really bad and the rotor came apart and took out the 91 car (Laperle).”
“I saw the rotor come out of Johnny’s car, and I was like, ‘Man, I’m gonna get it right in the face,’” said Laperle. “I closed my eyes, and BANG! it hit the master cylinder by my foot. ”
As all that happened, Cassius Clark drove under Laperle for second place, and around the outside of Johnny Clark for the lead on lap 137. With fluid leaking from both injured cars, PASS officials threw the yellow flag on lap 139 to clean up the track. Johnny Clark’s car was looked at closely under caution, and he was allowed to continue in the race. He was even given his spot back in second place for the restart.
“When the yellow came out, I knew we were done,” he said. “I didn’t even really want to restart on the outside up front, and I’m just glad we didn’t mess anyone up when we went back to green. It’s kinda awkward for a rear rotor to come apart, so we’ll look at it and see if we can find out what happened. Man, it’s disappointing. We haven’t had a real good start to the season, and we sure had ‘em covered today.”
“This is the first time I’ve seen anything like that,” said Laperle. “My car was awesome; it was just a bit tight right in the middle and coming out of the corner. But that’s racing.”
VETERAN RICK MARTIN TAKES SECOND
Rick Martin is not a constant competitor with PASS, but when he makes an appearance, his presence is well-known. Martin is a two-time winner with PASS, and has multiple top-three and top-five finishes.
Cassius Clark hasn't loaded up a losing car in PASS North yet this season. (Norm Marx Photos)
Until Cassius Clark took the lead late in the race at Canaan, Martin had been the only driver to edge Johnny Clark at the point, leading four laps on the outside groove in the early stages of the race. After falling into the lower half of the top-five at mid-race, Martin bounced back as Johnny Clark and Patrick Laperle fell out at lap 139. Martin held on behind Cassius Clark to finish second.
“We just tried to hang in there,” he said. “My guys wanted me to pit to try and make it a little better, but I figured if we got in the back, we’d end up in the wrecks.
But it wasn’t as easy as it looked.
Johnny Clark (no relation) and Canadian Patrick Laperle had been running 1-2 all night long before Cassius crept up to take the lead. The Farmington, ME racer had been running in third for much of the race, but when the leaders encountered problems late in the going, he was there to pounce on them and steal the win.
“We’re going pretty good right now, but tonight was tough,” he said. “We had a good car, but they were really killing us on the straightaways. Johnny had trouble at the end and it took Patrick out, too, so I guess
Patrick Leperle had a shot at the victory into an airborne DNF found its way to his #91 car.
“We didn’t even know if we were going to bring this car. We thought we had motor problems with it early in the year, but come to find out it was our own fault, we had put the wrong flywheel in it. We dug it out of the corner, and it’s been a good car for us. It was built in 1994 by Junior Hanley, and it still goes good. We’re happy. We came in a couple times, made a few adjustments, and just used track position. Starting last, I figured I’d be in the first wreck, but we kinda just picked ‘em off.”
CHUBBUCK RIDES TWO-BARREL TO FOURTH
With all the controversy surrounding Cassius Clark and his undefeated two-barrel setup this season, Scott Chubbuck has been running just as well with a two-barrel. In two races with a two-barrel, Chubbuck has driven Jay Cushman’s #29 Taurus to a third-place finish at Oxford, ME in April and a fourth-place finish at Canaan on Saturday.
Richie Dearborn's #33.
I tried to hang on up there and I figured something was bound to happen soon enough. Then I saw Johnny leaking fluid, and for a minute I kind of thought I might have ended up in the woods if they didn’t stop it when they did, he was leaking pretty good.”
Obviously, Martin stayed on the track, and held off the challenges of Richie Dearborn to grab the runner-up spot.
“All in all, I said top three we’d be happy,” Martin said. “Second is even better.”
DEARBORN CREW FIGHTS OFF GREMLINS, BRINGS 12 YEAR-OLD CAR HOME THIRD
For Richie Dearborn’s Chadwick-BaRoss team, the PASS 150 at Canaan was no cakewalk. After chasing their tails from the garage right up through qualifying, Dearborn and his crew members found themselves hoisting a third-place trophy at the end of the night. Making the finish even better, Dearborn started 20th – shotgun on the field.
But the team also finished second at Speedway 95 three weeks ago with a four-barrel carburetor. Does Chubbuck prefer one over the other?
“It depends on the track,” he said. “It was a little disadvantage here tonight because of the long straightaways, but it wasn’t bad.”
Chubbuck steadily worked his way from 13th at the start to finish in fourth place, picking off most of his positions in the second half of the race.
“I don’t think it came to life so much as it was everyone else slowing down. We kept our top-five streak going I
“We needed a few more laps, that’s all,” he said. “The car was good about five laps into it, but I think we lost a shock on the left-front, because the car was just bottoming out on me. When I let off on the straightaway, the nose would drop way down. All in all, fifth ain’t bad with the problems we had. I don’t think I could’ve touched Cassius, there ain’t nobody out there that can touch him. He’s good, and hey, he’s done his homework, so good job.”
ALAN WILSON HAPPY WITH IMPROVEMENT AT CANAAN
Hebron, ME’s Alan Wilson, the 2005 PASS North Rookie of the Year, had a terrible time at Canaan Fair Speedway last season. In both events, Wilson finished two laps down. On Saturday, he turned things around by finishing sixth after a long battle with Ben Rowe.
“They didn’t want to wait for me I guess,” he said after the race.
Had Rowe made the restart in time, there’s no telling how he could have affected the outcome of the race. The comeback he made from 13th place over the final 60 laps was nothing short of astounding. After seeing the leaders in his rear-view mirror coming around to lap him, Rowe finished in fifth place.
guess. Tonight we ran the two-barrel, but we’ll have to see how (the rules) play out. I think we’re okay either way, because the race that we finished second in we ran the four-bbl. I guess we’ll see.”
MIKE ROWE MAKES A WHALE OF A COMEBACK
Mike Rowe ran in the top-five for the first 90 laps of the PASS 150 at Canaan, but pitted on under caution to make an adjustment on his Pullen Heavy Industries Chevrolet. When it was time for the restart, however, Rowe almost got caught in the pits. By the time he came out of the pits, the leader were nearly three-quarters of a lap ahead of him.
ultimate low-buck racer with a small, all-volunteer crew. Only four members of the Pave-Tek/Wheeler’s Market #53 team made it to Canaan – and that includes Wilson as the owner, driver, and crew chief. Having to stretch everything so thin may make it hard for Wilson to compete for the championship this season.
“We’re gonna try to (run the full schedule). The Canadian races are tough. A big part of my crew is laid up, we’re all getting old I guess. I’ve only got two guys and my girlfriend helping me today. We’re going to Canada in a couple weeks, and it’s just me and my girlfriend and my boy. It’s kinda tough, but we’re gonna do everything we can.”
BEN ROWE HAS FAITH IN RICHARD MOODY TEAM
If you’ve been a short track fan during the last six years, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard of second-generation racer Ben Rowe from Turner, ME, and chances are equally as good that you’ve seen a picture of him holding a checkered flag out the window of a yellow Tom Estes-owned #00 car.
In 2000, Rowe piloted the car to the Oxford Plains (ME) Speedway Open Comp series championship, as well as the former NEPSA and IPSC touring titles. Since 2001, the team dominated the PASS North series, winning the championship in 2002, ’03, and ’05, as well as 26 races along the way.
During the winter, Rowe and Estes parted ways, and Rowe accepted a ride in Richard Moody’s black #4 car. While the results have been decent on paper during the first three outings this season, fans of Rowe know that he’s struggling. At Canaan, he managed only a seventh-place finish, and never ranked higher than fifth in the race.
“Oh man, I don’t know what ails us,” a disappointed Rowe said after the PASS 150. “We were horrible. We hit it in the last practice, I thought we were decent, but it was bad, bad. I was just way too tight. If you’re tight here it kills ya. I wasn’t bad on the bottom, but every restart I was on the outside. It’s one of them deals.”
But Rowe is far from giving up on his new team. Richard Moody is a veteran car owner, and has tasted success with several drivers, most recently former PASS Rookie of the Year Donnie Whitten. This season, he’s fielding the #4 car for Rowe, and the #44 for young Travis Khiel, another former PASS Rookie of the Year. Rowe knows that his days of winning will return. It’s just a matter of time.
“We’re still getting everything together, and it’ll turn around in our favor one of these days. I like running with these guys, the team is good. With two teams we’ve got a lot of guys. Everybody’s working great, they’re just busting tail. Remember, we only started this two months ago. It’ll take time, and right now there’s just no catching the #8 car (Cassius Clark), he’s awesome. We’ll get there. We’ve got a new car that we should have hopefully by Oxford. We’ll just take our bruises and go on from here.”
JOHNNY CREDITS CANAAN SUCCESS TO VETERAN ROBIE
Before Johnny Clark’s problems late in the going, it looked like he would take his first PASS North win of the 2006 season at Canaan. Clark and Laperle raced nose-to-tail for the majority of the race, and on almost every lap it looked like maybe – just maybe – Laperle could have snuck under Clark for the lead, but it never happened.
Martin's #14 ride.
Scott Chubbuck had yet another top five finish, and he had a few tense moments getting there in his #29 Jay Cushman-owned Ford.
Alan Wilson wears many hats on the #53 team.
Rowe's #4 RMR ride leads Scott Chubbuck and Mike Rowe in prelims for the race at Canaan.
Johnny Clark's #54
“We just kinda hung in there, and every caution flag we’d pick up some more on the restarts,” the Hollis, ME racer said. “Between the heat and the feature, we had to take the cap off the master cylinder, we must have had the clutch air-bound. We had a bearing loose on the right-front, too, so that wasn’t helping us any.”
The track wasn’t the only place the team struggled with the car, a 12 year-old chassis built by short-track legend Junior Hanley of Ontario.
“I thought we made a big improvement over last year,” Wilson said. “We had fun here today, me and Benji had quite a tussle for a while, I just couldn’t get by him. He’s good. We got lucky at the end, we had a restart and I was on the inside, that didn’t hurt. Gary Smith was going really good, and that restart hurt him a little bit, Benji, too. But that’s the way it works, there were restarts earlier when I got shuffled back.”
One of the friendliest guys in racing, Alan Wilson is the
Clark owes the deceptive line he used to veteran New Hampshire racer Carlton Robie.
“I know this place pretty well,” Clark said. “Carlton Robie is a good buddy of mine, and he told me how to get around here. He told me how to get through three and four, and how to get people to overdrive when they’re following you.”
Clark’s line made his car look tight in the middle of the corner, drifting up the track about a half a lane, only to
come off the corner with lots of momentum. Laperle looked low on Clark a hundred times if he looked once, with Grand Puppeteer Johnny Clark tugging on the strings every lap.
“You show ‘em a little daylight and make them think that they can get in there,” he explained, “but they just dive in and burn up their stuff all day long, and they can’t (make the pass). I owe that to Carlton. I got a pole out that here, and we should have won this race tonight.”
DRIVERS READY FOR “GROVETONA”
The next stop on the PASS North schedule is Sunday, June 4 at Riverside Speedway. The tight, high-banked ¼-mile track is located in rural Groveton, NH, and is known for having eccentric personalities and wacky enduro races. Locals have affectionately dubbed the track “Grovetona.”
No matter what division is racing at the speedway, the action is intense. Cars bounce off walls, flip off the Turn one dirt bank, toss body panels like children’s toys, and usually give the fans their money’s worth.
Johnny Clark is a past winner at Riverside, and leads to contingent of PASS racers looking forward to the race.
“I can’t wait to go to Grovetona next weekend, that’s one of my favorite places,” he said. “It wasn’t my favorite the first time I went there, but we’ve got two wins and a second there, so hopefully we can redeem ourselves from tonight.”
Ben Rowe looks at it a little differently.
“We’ll be alright for next week,” he said. “We’ve got everything old ready to go to Groveton, that race ought to be interesting. I think we’ll fill the bumpers with concrete.”