HERMON, Maine — A large crowd welcomed the Pro All-Stars Series back to Speedway 95 for the first time since 2009 on Sunday and it didn’t get short-changed.
The Hight Chevrolet 150 PASS Super Late Model North race featured a scintillating last-lap duel between Farmington’s Cassius Clark and D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire. Clark bumped Shaw out of the way as they negotiated the final turn to take the checkered flag.
Shaw’s car clipped the back of Clark’s car as they crossed the finish line, careening Clark’s vehicle up into the banking on turn one.
An angry Clark emerged from his damaged car unhurt and strode across the infield to confront Shaw. But officials stepped in and Clark returned to the front stretch to receive the checkered flag and his trophy.
Shaw finished second, and Morrill’s Travis Benjamin was third. Rounding out the top five were Mike Rowe of Turner and his former son-in-law, Glen Luce, also from Turner. Joey Doiron of Berwick was sixth, and completing the top 10 were Curtis Gerry of Waterboro, Johnny Clark of Farmingdale, Adam Polvinen of Auburn and Ryan Deane of Winterport.
Twenty cars took the checkered flag and 10 finished. There were six cautions.
The hard-charging Clark, who was 12 car-lengths back with 25 laps remaining, had tried to nudge Shaw out of the way on lap 149, but Shaw did a nice job controlling his car and maintaining the lead.
But Clark successfully bumped him out of the way on the final lap. Each offered his version of the incident.
“I was content going to the outside and beating him clean. But he slowed down, that’s how he runs, and kept trying to run me off the backstretch,” Clark said. “So I figured ‘[expletive] him’ and I did a bump-and-run on the last turn and beat him to the [start-finish] line. Then he right-rears me getting to the checkered.”
Clark pocketed $3,000 for his win, with Shaw earning $1,800 and Benjamin collecting $1,100.
Clark insisted that Shaw purposely slid up the track throughout the race to run him into the marbles (tiny bits of rubber off the tires) and prevent him from going around him.
“I got pushed out of the way twice, unfairly,” said Shaw. “He didn’t even try to pass me the first time. I gathered up my car and tried to give him a little more room on the outside but he evidently wanted to go through me.
“He pushed me sideways [on the last lap] so I stood on it [the accelerator] and we drag-raced to the start-finish line. He wanted my real estate and I wanted the real estate I had. We came together [and Clark’s car sailed into the banking]. It definitely wasn’t intentional,” said Shaw.
Clark wasn’t buying the explanation.
“[If he didn’t mean it], why didn’t he come over and apologize to me?” posed Clark, who earned his first victory of the season.
Shaw’s three wins lead the tour.
The 24-year-old Shaw took the lead from Benjamin with a clever move to the inside on lap 108 and expanded the lead.
But Clark kept pecking away at the lead and was within 1½ car lengths with six laps remaining.
“It seems that races always end up that way here,” grinned Benjamin, who said he had a “great race car, but I used it up a little too much at the beginning. We came up just a little short.”
Ben Rowe won the pole and led the first 13 laps before his car developed trouble and had to go to the pits.
Bangor’s Gary Smith led the next 25 laps but a flat tire ended his chances.
Cassius Clark assumed the lead and led several laps before Benjamin slid past him on the inside groove.
Clark and Benjamin were among several drivers who felt the inside groove had a lot of grip and was surprisingly fast.
“The track was the best it has ever been,” said the race winner, who had won PASS races at Speedway 95 in 2005 and 2006. “You could go on the bottom.”
In the other PASS divisions, Haverhill, Massachusetts, native J.T. Barill took the lead from Newburgh’s Scott Alexander with six laps remaining when Alexander’s car got loose and survived a green-white checkered flag finish to post his second Modifieds win of the season.
It was the first time Barill had ever raced at Speedway 95.
Alexander appeared in good position to take the checkered flag but his car almost got sideways between turns three and four which enabled Barill to slip past him.
“There was something [liquid] on the track and I got into it. Andy [Shaw] had also gotten into it,” said Alexander. “[Winning] would have been a nice homecoming but second was good.”
“I wasn’t sure what had happened [to Alexander]. It was a little slick on the outside,” said the 38-year-old Barill. “The car had struggled earlier today but the crew got it together and found the hot set-up.”
Barill enjoyed his first trip to Speedway 95.
“It was a great time. It was awesome,” said Barill.
Harpswell’s Mark Lucas was third and completing the top five were Andy Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, and Jeff Hebert of Auburn.
In the Sportsman feature, points leaders Joe Pastore and Dan McKeage battled it out with Pastore winning by five car-lengths. McKeage’s father, Lyman, was third with Portland’s Scott Dorr and Skowhegan’s Kris Matchett rounding out the top five.