Cassius Clark Gets DQ'ed After Dominating at Speedway 95 by Mike Twist
Competitor Responds to His Penalties, While Johnny Clark Officially Wins Race
When the PASS North Super Late Models went to Speedway 95 (ME) on Sunday, Cassius Clark completely outran the competition. At one point, he nearly lapped the entire field, having all but second-place Johnny Clark one lap down before a string of caution periods and lucky dog passes closed up the field.
PASS rules allow different engine combinations with various weight breaks for certain setups. That portion of the rulebook was adjusted prior to the 2007 season.
“They still let you run a crate engine with a camshaft change, but you have to add 50 pounds. Last year they let you run it as the same. We thought it about and decided to go with the [stock camshaft option] this year. It’s about a 60 or 70 horsepower difference, but we though that having the lighter weight would work. So that is what we opted for.
“We were kind of dumbfounded [when the rocker arms were discovered]. We don’t know if it was a misinterpretation or a mistake. I don’t know. We were surprised.”
The non-conforming rocker arms were discovered when Cassius Clark’s engine was impounded after the race and shipped to an independent facility for dyno testing and examination.
“The engine didn’t pass the technical inspection process,” was the simple and brief comment from PASS president Tom Mayberry.
Speed51.com learned that the rocker arms had a ratio of 1.6, instead of the stock 1.5 ratio. A higher ratio could improve bottom-end torque, but would have a minimal impact on horsepower. According to Clark, a dyno test showed that the engine produced 412 horsepower instead of the published figure of 405 horsepower for that model of crate engine.
“They ripped it apart and found a different style of rocker that gave it seven more horsepower, so they threw us out for that,” said Clark.
Clark felt that it was a minor advantage and that it would not have made any difference in the outcome of the race.
“I wouldn’t say so, but everyone who lost might say it,” said Clark. “If that’s what they think, well, we had them beat anyways. I don’t think an extra six, seven or 12 horsepower would let me come close to lapping the field by any means.”
Clark also pointed out that his Ed Chapman-owned #8 team did not have any knowledge about the specifics of what was under their hood for the race. It was a powerplant that was bought used by the team and then sent out to their engine builder meet PASS specs.
“We don’t know anything about the motors,” said Clark. “We buy them and send them out. When we got the motor, it had a different camshaft in it. Last year they allowed a cam change, so we sent it to Butler and McMaster to have the right camshaft put in. We don’t do anything to them.”
Cassius Clark's #8 Super Late Model (51 Photo)
After Clark crossed the finish line first, the competition was left scratching their heads.
“All that I have to say is that they are doing something,” observed a top tour competitor after the race. “He’s not that good to go and almost lap the field like that.”
A few days after the race, those suspicions were confirmed. It turns out that there was something about the #8 car. The engine did not meet PASS rules, but whether or not the infraction was enough to actually make any difference in the race will never really be known.
PASS officials announced in the middle of the week that Clark’s car would be disqualified from the race for rocker arms that did not meet the definition of “stock” per series rules. The team ran a stock crate engine in their car, and took a weight break for that engine option. PASS rules state that a crate engine must be in “factory form without modifications”.
When PASS officials made the decision after the feature race on Sunday to pull the engine out of the #8 car and inspected, Clark wasn’t the least bit concerned about the potential of anything illegal being found. He was more worried about losing a few days to work on the car and engine before the team’s next scheduled event, the May 19th PASS North race at Canada’s New Brunswick International Speedway.
“They’re yanking our motor tonight and that will put us a little bit behind,” said Clark at the time. “But whatever, we’ll get it back in and go on to the next one.”
So when they got handed a disqualification, and lost their purse money and points from the race, midway through the week, Clark was shocked.
The two Clarks (who are friends, but not related) - Johnny (#54) and Cassius (#8). (Norm Marx Photo)
“I just don’t know what to really say,” said Clark. “It’s a bum deal. I found out on Tuesday when I got home from work, got online and saw it on the internet. They seem to like to pull our engines and when someone else wins, I don’t see nearly as much going on in the tech shack. It is a rule that they have in there even though it wasn’t much of an advantage. It was like me wearing a different pair of socks for the race the way that I figure it.
“But a rule is a rule, so as long as they do this for everyone else [it’s fair]. I hope that they will start pulling other people’s engines after the race as well now. We’ll see what happens with that.”
It should also be noted that this incident was not the first time that Cassius Clark and the #8 team have had problems in the PASS inspection process.
Last season at Thompson, the team was stripped of their prize money and 120 PASS points, but allowed to keep the win, for having too high of a compression ratio after the race. Clark responded to those charges at the time by saying that it was due to a misunderstanding between the team and PASS officials on a rules question reguarding cylinder heads that could be used under different engine combination options.
This time, one Clark’s loss was another Clark’s gain – sort of. While Cassius Clark was stripped of his victory, Johnny Clark was awarded it in his place after crossing the finish line in the runner-up position. [Note - although they share the same surname, Cassius Clark and Johnny Clark are not related.]
Johnny Clark wasn’t exactly overjoyed about the way that he won the race though.
“I hate that this was with Cassius,” said Johnny Clark. “I think the world of him and his team. He’s a great racecar driver. [Crew Chief] Billy [Clark] and the team work so hard.
Johnny Clark poses with what he thought was the second-place trophy at Speedway 95. (Norm Marx Photo)
It’s not how I want to win and it’s unfortunate for everyone. It’s just not good for anyone. It’s not good for the tour – they did what they needed to do, but I know that they are upset over it. It’s not good for the fans. Anyone who was at the track saw Cassius win the race. It’s too bad.”