Hallowell’s Johnny Clark was optimistic at the outset of the season.
He was the defending two-time Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model North Division points champion and was seeking to become the tour’s first driver to win three in a row. He was also looking to become the first driver to win five points championships on the tour, which began in 2001.
But he will be the first to admit he never expected to be in the position he is in right now.
Clark has a 71-point lead on Turner’s Ben Rowe entering tonight’s final race at White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire so, essentially, all he has to do is start his car to get his name etched on the trophy.
“I’ve never been in this situation before. This is the biggest lead I’ve ever had. It’s kind of fun. We’ve had a phenomenal year,” said the 30-year-old Clark, who has been the model of consistency this season.
Not only does he lead the series in wins with five over the first 12 races, he also has 10 top-fives and 12 top-10s. The five wins are the most he has ever racked up in one season. He hasn’t finished lower than seventh in any race, a feat that even he marvels at.
“That’s remarkable. It has certainly been quite a year,” said Clark, a former Gardiner High School hockey standout.
In addition to his success on the PASS tour, he also won the Auto Value 250 at Speedway 660 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, earlier this month to pocket a record payday of $26,350. He led 208 of the 250 laps.
And he dug out his 2006 Chevy Monte Carlo to win that race. He has been racing his 2008 Monte Carlo the rest of the time.
“It was easier to convert the old car over to their rules,” he explained.
Clark considers this year to be the most rewarding of his career.
His wins came at Unity Raceway, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, White Mountain, Caribou’s Spud Speedway and the June points race at Speedway 660.
The triumph at Spud Speedway came in the first-ever PASS race held there.
“I love going to new tracks,” said Clark. “Whoever figures it out first, win the races. It was cool to go to a place you had never raced at and to be able to master it.”
He has been with crew chief Robert Green for five years and the partnership is certainly working. This will be their fourth title together in five years.
Clark is in the running for another title, also.
There is a five-race National Championship PASS Super Late Model series featuring the drivers from the PASS North and PASS South series.
There is one race left and Clark is in second place, 11 points behind South driver Preston Peltier of Harrisburg, N.C.
The final race, the Mason-Dixon Meltdown, will be held on Oct. 16 at the Newport Speedway (Tenn).
He said another championship is “doable” and that it would be “incredible” to cap his memorable season with yet another title.
Following the season, he plans to “build a new race car.
“Right now, I’m sitting comfortable in our racing checkbook. We want to make sure we’re ready to go next season,” he added.
In the other two PASS North series, Andy Shaw of North Conway, N.H., won the Mods points title by 51 points over Hebron’s Alan Wilson and Livermore’s Scott McDaniel, who tied for second. They have completed their season.
There is one race remaining in the Sportsman division with Gorham’s Dan McKeage holding a 15-point lead over Denmark’s Carey Martin and a 23-point lead over Oakland’s Michael Landry of Oakland. Levant’s Shane Tatro is fifth, 102 points behind McKeage.
The final Sportsman race will be held at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H. on Oct. 16.
Santerre drivers on a roll
Cherryfield’s Andy Santerre, the competition director for Revolution Racing, has two drivers in the top 10 and three in the top 11 in the points standings entering tonight’s K and N Pro Series East race, the New Hampshire 125, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Revolution Racing which took over the operational responsibilities of the Drive for Diversity program, features Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Gifford and Sergio Pena.
Wallace Jr. and Gifford are African-Americans while Pena is of Latin heritage.
Wallace Jr. is second in points and trails leader Ryan Truex by 66 points. Gifford is fifth and Pena is 11th.
There is one race left in the series, the Sunoco 150 at Dover International Speedway. That will be held next Sunday.
Wallace is among the front-runners in the Rookie of the Year.
Brett Moffitt won the pole with a record-breaking time of 29.863 seconds.
Last year, Moffitt drove for the Andy Santerre Motorsports Team and had Santerre as his crew chief.