Johnny Clark Gives the Gift of Victory on Father’s Day
Latest Unity Raceway Memory for Clark Family is a Win in the DNK Select 150
Some sons give neckties or tools for Father’s Day gifts, but Johnny Clark gave his Dad something a little more unique this year – a victory in the PASS North Super Late Model race at Unity Raceway (ME).
There were a whole lot of Rowes in victory lane.
(Norm Marx Photo)
Dearborn won that battle by finishing second, with Cassius Clark, Mike Rowe and PASS North point leader Ben Rowe rounding out the top-five finishers.
“We got shuffled back and then we couldn’t get by Richie,” said Cassius Clark. “We had one hell of a race there. He ran me clean and we kept going for it on the front stretch, the backstretch and everywhere else. So we held on for third.”
Interestingly enough, though, most of Johnny’s memories of when his Dad raced did not involve actually seeing him wheel a car around the Unity track.
“I don’t remember him racing here so much,” said Johnny Clark. “That was in his Street Stock days when he raced here, and I was just a little runt at the time. I do know that I would cry when I couldn’t come here. That was back when he would load the racecar on the back of his wrecker and I would watch it leave. Later on, I recall watching Kenny Wright, Ralph Nason and Scott Chubbuck race here. I watched a lot of laps around here and that is how I learned to race this track.”
Those lessons paid off for Clark on Sunday because the task of getting to the front was not supposed to be an easy one. Clark won his heat race, but started 11th due to PASS rules that do not allow any winner from the current season of racing to start a feature within the top 10. Since Clark won at Speedway 95 earlier in 2007, he had to line up 11th.
He didn’t stay there for long. Clark was in the top five by the 25-lap mark. A few laps later, he worked his way up to third.
Travis Benjamin and Cassius Clark both took turns leading early in the race, but by lap 54, it was time for Johnny Clark to take over the top spot. He would not give that up for the rest of the day either.
On a long green-flag run late in the race, Cassius Clark appears to be cutting into Johnny Clark’s sizable lead, and a caution for Stephen Barry’s hard wreck into the turn one sandpile with six laps to go had the possibility of creating a new race for the lead.
Could that late-race caution have made any difference as to the winner of the race? That depends on who you ask.
“After the last restart, I had to race side-by-side with Richie (Dearborn) for about 30 laps, so once I got by him, I was hoping to gain on him [Johnny Clark],” said Cassius Clark. “He was coming back to me. I don’t know if I would have caught him, but I would have had a better chance of it.”
“Come on, we had a straightaway lead,” laughed his pal Johnny Clark in response. “We knew the caution would come out at some point. I figured we would have a green-white-checkered finish. I was [getting bigger in his windshield], but I was also running a lot slower those last 15 laps because I had such a lead. I just wanted to conserve the car. He was definitely good, but I wasn’t pushing it either.”
The caution did create a great battle for second on back, though. While Johnny Clark pulled away again on the restart, a great three-way battle for second place on back took place among Cassius Clark, Richie Dearborn and Mike Rowe.
It was a fine Sunday afternoon for Johnny Clark and his team at Unity. (Jamie Williams Photo)
John Clark III had raced many times at Unity throughout his own career, but lately he’s been watching his son Johnny win big races at tracks throughout the Northeast. On Sunday, Johnny’s victory came in the DNK Select 150.
“To come here and run like we did on Father’s Day is awesome,” said Johnny Clark. “Dad drove the bus up here last night and he said, ‘You know what I want for Father’s Day?’ and he reminded me of that when I crossed the finish line. That was pretty cool.”
Winning at Unity, a track within an hour of the Clark’s home base of Farmingdale, Maine, was just like winning at home.
“Here and Wiscasset are where I grew up watching racing,” said Johnny Clark. “I just haven’t really raced here much. Nobody believes it, but I’ve only raced here about 16 or 17 times. I never raced here weekly.”
There was a 45-minute rain delay for passing thunderstorms. That gave some guys like Ben Rowe (Top - 51 Photo) a chance to relax. Meanwhile, cars from the PASS support divisions, including the #66 Pullen Sportsman car of Ernest Wallace Jr., helped dry off the track. (Bottom - Jamie Williams Photo)
PASS North Super Late Models
June 17, 2007
1. Johnny Clark
2. Richie Dearborn
3. Cassius Clark
4. Mike Rowe
5. Ben Rowe
6. Trevor Sanborn
7. Scott Chubbuck
8. Bill Penfold
9. Adam Bates
10. Alan Tardiff
11. Gary Smith
12. Derek Ramstrom
13. Curtis Gerry
14. Travis Benjamin
15. Rick Martin
16. Gary Bellefleur
17. John Phippen
18. Stephen Barry
19. DJ Shaw
20. Tim Turner
21. Kevin Kimball
22. Jeff Burgess
23. Sam Sessions
24. Ralph Nason
“Those last five or six there were fun,” said Dearborn. “I knew that my only chance to get Cassius there would be on the restart. I could stay beside him for a few laps, but then he would go right by us. It was short enough to hold him off this time.”
Three other PASS divisions were in action on Sunday as well. Charlie Colby won a wild 100-lapper for the PASS Outlaw Late Models over Brian Whitney and Matt Lee.
In the PASS Modifieds, Gary Norris Jr. barely edged defending Modified champion Chris Staples for the victory, as Chris Smith had a great view of the action from his third finishing position.
The racing card was rounded out by the PASS Pullen Heavy Industries Sportsmen, which saw Dan McKeage finish ahead of Nate Watson.
The PASS North Super Late Models will return to action Saturday, June 23rd, at Scotia Speedworld (NS) for the Forbes Chevrolet-Olds 200.
Richie Dearborn's #33 finished in the second spot. (51)