Auto racing report

Farmingdale auto racer to begin quest for fifth straight PASS SLM North title

Posted May 03, 2012, at 7:06 p.m.

Farmingdale’s Johnny Clark has been the poster child for consistency in the Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model North division the past four years.

Not only has he claimed four points championships, he has won 19 races, posted 39 top-five finishes and 49 top-10s in 54 races.

He will be gunning for a fifth consecutive points title and seventh overall on Saturday when the Southern Maine Motors.com 150 opens the PASS SLM North season at Scarborough’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Racing begins at 3 p.m.

The 32-year-old Clark, now the proud father of a 9-month-old daughter, Olivia, said someone recently asked him why doesn’t he move on and try something else.

“Because I still find this challenging. I still have the desire to race at this level and it’s what we can afford,” said Clark. “I’m not the only one with good equipment. A lot of drivers have good equipment. I want to keep winning.”

He also said it is “fun for the family.”

Clark is coming off the best year of his career.

He won seven of the 14 races and had 13 top-five finishes in 2011.

Beech Ridge was especially kind to Clark a year ago as he won two races, a 300-lapper and a 150-lapper, and finished second in another 150-lapper.

He is confident but not overconfident about Saturday’s race.

“You never know what’s going to happen there,” said Clark. “But I’m confident in what we’re going with and the setup [of the car]. We’re ready to go.”

Clark will be driving the same two Chevy Impalas this year.

“One of them won six races last year and the other won one,” said Clark. “We haven’t made any major changes to them. We’ve just freshened them up.”

His brother Bobby, who has been his spotter and also handled some crew chief duties, won’t be as available this year as he has two sons involved in go-karting.

So Chad Dow will assist when Bobby Clark isn’t available.

“We tried Chad out on radio at White Mountain [Motorsports Park, N.H.] and we went to Victory Lane,” said Clark. “We worked real well together. Chad was around all last year [helping out].”

Winning another title won’t be easy, said Clark.

“It’s going to be a tough year. There are a lot of good cars and there are some drivers coming back to run full time like Derek Ramstrom and D.J. Shaw,” he said.

He also listed 2011 points runner-up Lonnie Sommerville of Saint John, New Brunswick; Farmington’s Cassius Clark and Turner’s Ben Rowe among his primary challengers.

Rowe has won four PASS SLM North titles and finished third in points last year.

Alexander Gingras of Quebec was fourth and Morrill’s Travis Benjamin was fifth.

There will also be PASS Modifieds and Sportsman races and a Legends car feature.

Santerre, Hattori Racing triumph

Cherryfield native Andy Santerre, who left Revolution Racing to join Hattori Racing Enterprises in a similar role as competition director, picked up his first win with his new employer eight days ago when 19-year-old Brett Moffitt held off Chase Elliott by 0.11 of a second in the Blue Ox 100 K and N Pro Series East race at Richmond International Raceway.

The other driver for Hattori Racing Enterprises, former Revolution Racing driver Sergio Pena, wound up ninth.

Santerre said it is the first victory in the K and N Pro Series East tour for owner Shigeaki Hattori, a former Indy Racing League driver.

“He was very excited. It helps him in his quest to gain sponsorship,” said Santerre, who noted that the race was shown on the Speed Channel so it earned plenty of exposure. “It went down to the last lap and they [Moffitt and Elliott] battled it out. They put on a great show.”

Moffitt, who used to have Santerre as his crew chief in the K and N Pro Series East tour, moved into sixth place in the points with his triumph.

He won three races a year ago, as did Pena.

Pena is 19th in points after a season-best ninth place finish at Richmond.

Moffitt finished fourth in the previous race, the Kevin Whitaker 150 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (S.C.) on March 31, but Pena was last (29th) due to a blown engine.

Moffitt started 21st.

In the opener at Bristol Motor Speedway (Tenn.), the Widow Max 125, Moffitt finished 32nd because of an oil leak and Pena was 20th.

“It’s coming around,” said Santerre. “The equipment is good. We’re fast every week. We’ve got to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Santerre is one of six full-time employees at Hattori Racing Enterprises and they have been building cars feverishly.

“When we started in January, we didn’t even have a wrench,” said Santerre. “We’ve done a remarkable job getting up and running. Now we need to fine-tune and make the equipment better.”

He said their goal is to build the “best cars available for every track.”

The 43-year-old Santerre is enjoying his new job.

“It’s a tight-knit group. Things have been a lot better here. There are a lot fewer headaches with a two-car team than a four-car team,” said Santerre, referring to Revolution Racing.

The next race in the 14-race series is the Graham Tire 150 at Iowa Speedway on May 19.

“That’s Brett’s home state. He always likes to run well there,” said Santerre.

Moffitt won last year’s May race at Iowa Speedway, the Pork Be Inspired 175.

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