Johnny Clark Heats Up With Bastille 200 Win at Lee
PASS North Points Leader Tops Them all In Tuesday Night Special
By Elgin Traylor
Johnny Clark has always had strong runs towards the end of the PASS North schedules.  Those late season streaks have helped propel him to the series championship in 2004, 2006 and 2008.  The 2009 season has been different, as Clark has shown signs of major strength out of the gates. Now he's taken three wins in the first eight races - the latest being his triumph in the Bastille 200 at Lee USA Speedway (NH).

“It’s good to win here,” said Clark.  “This track fits my driving style.  It’s a lot like a Wiscasset, so I tend to run really well here.  It has been a few years since PASS has been here.  We could have won here back in 2004.  I used up my tires in one those races and got passed with like 10 laps to go.  This makes up for that.”

Clark ended up in victory lane, however it was Louis Mechalides who had the dominant car and led the first half of the race.  Mechalides was driving a Super Late Model for Brad Watson. This was the first time in over two years that he sat behind the wheel of a Super Late Model.  It didn’t look as if he had been out of the seat at all. He put a hurting on the field in the first half of the race.

“We won the heat and the car got even better during the race,” said Mechalides.  “I was riding around and trying not to burn up my stuff.  When we came in for the pit stop, things didn’t go well and it we lost a lot of time.”

Mechalides’ team had trouble getting the fuel in the car and lost several spots on pit road.  He charged back from just outside the top 10 to get back up to second in the final few laps.  A late race yellow didn’t help any as lap cars were lined up between him and the leader.

“I knew I could get back to the front, because I wasn’t really pushing it that hard,” added Mechalides.  “If we had gotten a caution sooner then two laps to go we could have raced with Johnny, but it was still a good run for us.”

Clark said after the race that he could see that Mechalides’ car was better on the starts.

“We had a really good car, but we were probably equally as good as the one car (Mechalides),” added Clark.  "He could get me on the restarts a bit.  After a few laps we were pretty close.”

Things might have never played out in to Clark’s favor as a tangle with a lap car cost one former champion and nearly another.

“It actually started with us and the 22 (Harry Olsen).  He didn’t turn at the end of the straightaway and it ended up taking Ben Rowe out of the race,” said Clark.  “We caught a break there and I was screaming on the radio in frustration, but we got some tires thanks to that caution and cruised to the front from there.”

Rowe ended up 20th after the damage.

The rest of the top five were Cassius Clark, rookie Matt Frahm, and Eddie MacDonald.

Joey Pole, Donnie Whitten, Richie Dearborn, Derek Ramstrom, and Nick Ribbe rounded out the top 10. 

Speed Shots

- Michael Pope got the long haul award at Lee after he and his BDI Racing team toed up to New Hampshire from North Carolina.  A late-race wreck left him 16th in the final rundown.

J-  ohnny Clark picked up a ton of points as the rest of the top five drivers in the standings, Adam Bates, Ben Rowe, Derek Ramstrom and Kelly Moore all had problems in the race.

-  In his first career PASS North Super Late Model start, Joey Pole ran strong and came away with a top 10 finish at Lee.

-  Matt Frahm scored a career best fourth-place finish at Lee USA Speedway. 

-  Race winner Johnny Clark has won five extra distance PASS North race (events over 150 laps).  However, he had never won a 200-lap event until Tuesday night at Lee. 

-  Andy Shaw won his third PASS Modified race of the season after topping the field in the 40-lap main event.

Johnny Clark took home his third win of 2009. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Steve Knowlton makes contact with the backstretch wall at Lee.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Ben Rowe (#4) tangled with the lapped car of Harry Olsen while running in the top five.  Rowe would end up finishing 20th. (Jamie Williams Photo)