Johnny Clark Dominates Close to Home at Wiscasset by Mike Twist
But Travis Benjamin Keeps Close By at The Finish
Johnny Clark (#54) stays ahead of a somewhat sideways Travis Benjamin (#17) at the Wiscasset checkers.  (Jamie Williams Photos)
But the real story was that the race wasn't nearly as boring for either winner Johnny Clark or the fans who were watching his performance.  Clark was firmly in control of the race at all times, but it was still pretty darn close thanks to some spirited driving by Travis Benjamin, who actually crossed the finish line sideways after a last-ditch attempt at taking the lead.

“Was he all over me at the end or what?” said Clark.  “I just couldn't keep it on the bottom.  I knew that if I stayed on the bottom and carried as much momentum as I could, he couldn't beat me.  He'd been there behind me long enough that he would have made it by then, but he was good and I guess it was a pretty good race.”

“We had an awesome car,” said Benjamin.  “I believe that we had a better car than Johnny, but track position mattered.  We started eighth and it didn't take us long to get up there, but getting by him was a different story.”

The short story of the Ray Haskell Ford 125 PASS North Super Late Model race at Wiscasset Speedway (ME) was that the hometown hero won his heat race, started on the outside pole for the feature and led every single lap on the way to winning the event.
But the real story was that the race wasn't nearly as boring for either winner Johnny Clark or the fans who were watching his performance.  Clark was firmly in control of the race at all times, but it was still pretty darn close thanks to some spirited driving by Travis Benjamin, who actually crossed the finish line sideways after a last-ditch attempt at taking the lead.

“Was he all over me at the end or what?” said Clark.  “I just couldn't keep it on the bottom.  I knew that if I stayed on the bottom and carried as much momentum as I could, he couldn't beat me.  He'd been there behind me long enough that he would have made it by then, but he was good and I guess it was a pretty good race.”

“We had an awesome car,” said Benjamin.  “I believe that we had a better car than Johnny, but track position mattered.  We started eighth and it didn't take us long to get up there, but getting by him was a different story.”

“I lost my power steering with 40 laps to go and I think that made a difference.  It was
Johnny Clark celebrates his victory.
“I lost my power steering with 40 laps to go and I think that made a difference.  It was hard to get up on him and turn underneath him.  I got into the back of him once, but I wasn't going to spin him.  If I had gotten him around sideways, neither one of us would have corrected it because without power steering, it's even harder to correct the car.  Johnny and I have always had good races and had fun doing it.  But he always beats me.”

The fact that Clark beat everyone at Wiscasset wasn't a surprise at all.  He won the PASS  North race at the track last August, he also won the weekly Pro Stock (Super Late Model) season opener at the track one week ago.  The facility is one where Clark has logged a ton of laps at throughout his career and now that Unity Raceway (ME) is no longer on the PASS North schedule, Wiscasset is the facility closest to his Farmingdale, Maine home.

“This is all that I have left,” said Clark when asked about the home track angle.  “I've always said before that I'd love to see the PASS schedule with six races at Unity and six at Wiscasset, so now I guess I'd love to see them all at Wiscasset. “

The Clark family history at Wiscasset runs deep.

“My Dad used to race here and this is where I grew up.  I started racing here when I was 14 and I think it's awesome to have the PASS tour back here.”
Meanwhile, Benjamin doesn't have such a long history at the track despite being from the Midcoast region of Maine where it is located.
“I honestly haven't raced here all that often,” said Benjamin.  “I never raced here for a full season. “

Clark's #54 and Benjamin's #17 were so hooked up at Wiscasset that even Ben Rowe, a five-time PASS North champion, could only settle for a somewhat distant third place finish.

Rowe told the crowd over the PA system after the race that he “had nothing for those top two cars today” and then followed that up with Speed51.com.

“I wasn't really pushing it early on, but later they were just a little bit better than we were,” said Rowe.  “The only way that I was going to catch them was with a green-white-checkered finish.  We know that this here is Johnny's house, but next week we go back to White Mountain and that is my house [Rowe has a very long record of success at that track].”

Still, there were a few chinks in the armor of the two lead cars. 

“We had a skip last week at the end of the straightaway,” said Clark.  “We changed everything - fuel filters, carburetors, everything.  Then about 50 laps into today it started to do it again.  It would only do it on restarts.  After a couple laps, it went away.  I don't know what the problem is, but I'm going to get to the bottom of it, I guarantee that.”

And Benjamin's #17 was a little off on one end of the track.

“He was better through three and four and we'll have to work on that,” said Benjamin.  “But I was awesome in turns one and two.  The car is fast and it's fun to drive.  It's a tribute to all of these guys who are working their butts off and the sponsors that put up the money to make this world go around.  It's paying off and hopefully we can run for the championship.”  

While Benjamin might be thinking about the title (he moved in second in the standings, just one point behind Ben Rowe, after the Wiscasset event) Clark is just looking ahead to the next time he rolls out his car at Wiscasset.

“I'd love to take every race that we enter at Wiscasset.  We'll run here on our off weekends - as much as we can.  It's an awesome place.  There was a healthy field of Pro Stocks here last weekend and it's good to see the track doing so well.”

In PASS Modified action, Mark Lucas won his third straight series feature.

The PASS North Super Late Models return to action this Saturday night, May 24th, at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH).