Johnny Clark Celebrates His Third PASS North Title by Brian Twist and Mike Twist
Knowledge of Wiscasset Seals The Deal
Johnny Clark went into the PASS North season finale at Wiscasset Raceway in the middle of a three-way championship battle. On paper, it was a close race that either Clark, Ben Rowe or Travis Benjamin could win.
Johnny Clark with his family. (Jamie Williams photo)
In reality though, unless Clark had problems at Wiscasset, he was going to roll out of the pit gates as the 2008 series champion. After all, Wiscasset is his home track on the PASS North schedule and it shows. Clark won two of the three previous events at the track this season in dominating fashion. He’s won weekly Pro Stock (Super Late Model) shows there and most of all, he was on a hot streak. Clark even won the recent PASS 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway – a track that he hadn’t had much success at in the past. So unless there was any bad luck, celebrating his third title at the end of the Wiscasset race was a no brainer.
And when Clark finished fifth in the race, that clinched the deal that was predicted by the only four-time PASS North champion, Ben Rowe.
“Benji (Clark's nickname for Ben Rowe) told me that no one expected us to win at Beech Ridge,” said Clark. “Benji came up and said after that race (Beech Ridge) that I had just won a championship right there because we were going to Wiscasset next.”
Neither Clark nor Rowe had great-handling racecars at Wiscasset. But with Clark’s knowledge of the track, he was able to salvage a top-five finish, while Rowe finished back in the 10th spot.
“Benji pulled onto my rear bumper as he wasn’t good all day. All day he was pretty bad and we were real good all day. But then, it the middle part of the race, we started backing up. We charged to the front pretty well from the 12th starting spot, but thought we had a really good car and thought that I would have the car to beat today. I started 10th (in heat) and came through to win that. But some reason, it just wouldn’t go.
“I’ve got a lot laps around this place and I knew what I had to do for a tight car. I tried to keep it on bottom rail and keep Benji behind me.”
Ben Rowe has seen the checkered flag this season, but it wasn't meant to be for the final race of the year or the championship. (Jamie Williams photo)
And with Rowe fading late in the race, that wasn’t hard for Clark to do.
“Well I looked up and Benji wasn’t getting it done on the outside at all. He started and he was on the outside and I thought he’d come back and then all of a sudden I looked up and couldn’t even see a yellow car behind me and I wondered where he went.”
Clark didn’t wonder enough to have anyone fill him in though.
“You know I told my crew I didn’t want to know what Benji was doing. If he passed me, he passed me."
Clark wanted to celebrate his third PASS North championship by winning the race, but that wasn’t in the cards.
“I wasn’t points chasing because I had to beat Benji, so I didn’t like him on my rear bumper on that restart. We didn’t have much on the restart. The car was horrible; it got really stuck then it would go and pull away from the #60 [of DJ Shaw]. Then, chasing Travis [Benjamin] down, all of a sudden the 60 would reel me in and I couldn’t do nothing with Travis. It was kind of a funny race. You saw a lot of people go in and out at different times. Travis Kittleson was real good and then he fell back. It was one of those races.”
Benjamin was the hottest championship contender at Wiscasset, but he had too much ground to make up without Clark having trouble. He finished third in the race, but also third in the point standings.
“We had to win the race or finish ahead of Johnny and those guys to win the championship and that’s what we did,” said Benjamin. “But Johnny and those guys are just good like they always are. So we fell a little short there, but hopefully we’ll be there fighting for the championship again next year.”
The PASS North banquet will take place in Portland, Maine, on November 15th.