HERMON, Maine — By his own account, Hallowell’s Johnny Clark had never won a race at Hermon’s Speedway 95 even though he was awarded a win when Farmington’s Cassius Clark was disqualified after crossing the finish line ahead of his friend and namesake.
“That doesn’t count in my eyes,” said Johnny Clark, who earned his first legitimate triumph Sunday afternoon in the Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Model opener at Speedway 95.
Clark re-started in the third spot on lap 137 following the race’s eighth caution and took the lead for good on the first lap.
Hollis’ Richie Dearborn was the leader and Cassius Clark re-started second.
Dearborn had a strong re-start but Johnny Clark got around Cassius and slid up the track, pushing Dearborn up into the dirt.
Johnny Clark pulled away from the field and held off Cassius Clark over the final 13 laps to take the checkered flag.
“I was completely sideways on the bottom and I chased my car up the track. I thought I had plenty of room but I got into [Dearborn] a little bit. As far as I’m concerned, that’s racing,” said Clark, the defending PASS North points champ. “I had my nose ahead of him coming off turn two and, with 13 laps to go you’ve got to do what you have to do to win the race.”
Dearborn, who salvaged fourth, wasn’t happy with Clark.
“I got slammed up there by Johnny. He wants to be my friend all winter long but when it comes to racing, nothing matters,” said an irritated Dearborn. “It’s a shame. We had a great car and we worked hard to stay up front all day. I’d rather race somebody door-to-door than slamming off each other.”
Clark said Dearborn pulled a similar move at his expense in a race two years ago.
“He pushed me off the track in turn one,” said Clark, who added that his car got better as the race progressed.
“Richie shouldn’t complain. He did the same thing to me,” said Dresden’s Scott Chubbuck, who finished third. “Johnny got most of his car past [Dearborn’s] and took the [high] groove away.”
Chubbuck said his car was “too tight” all day.
Following Dearborn and rounding out the top five was Adam Bates of Warner, N.H.
Completing the top 10 were 17-year-old Derek Ramstrom of West Boylston, Mass., Brunswick’s Chris Staples, John Flemming of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Turner’s Ben Rowe and Wells’ Donnie Whitten.
Cassius Clark and Scarborough’s Kelly Moore got tangled up racing for the lead on lap 56 and Clark re-started 13th before picking his way through the field for his second place finish.
Moore wound up 17th.
“I had the best car, obviously, but I needed two more laps to catch Johnny,” said Cassius Clark. “We were coming.”
Morrill’s Travis Benjamin finished 13th; Bangor’s Gary Smith ran in the top 10 all day before a flat tire resulted in a 14th-place finish; Brewer native Mike Thomas was 16th; Glenburn’s Scott Alexander was running in the top five when he slid off the track with 16 laps to go and wound up 19th and John Higgins, also of Glen-burn, was 22nd in the 23-car field.
In the 40-lap PASS Modifieds race, Stephen Bennett Jr. of Buckfield took the lead from Andy Shaw seven laps into the race and survived eighth cautions to take the checkered flag.
“The car was good from the drop of the green flag and it got a little better at the end,” said Bennett, who notched his first-ever series win in five years.
Waterboro’s Scott Grant was second and completing the top five were Hollis Center’s Glenn Bradbury, Hermon’s Greg Ellis and Bill Dixon of North Waterboro.
In the 75-lap Sportsman feature, Windham native and Denmark resident Carey Martin took advantage of a late caution which caused a green-white (two-lap) finish.
He started on the faster outside groove in the second spot and sailed around leader Dan McKeage of Gorham, who started on the slower inside groove.
Ironically, the wreck that caused the decisive caution involved his father, Lyman McKeage, and his cousin, Mike Landry.
“That’s all right. Carey and I had one whale of a race. I’ve won races like that before,” said McKeage who was confident he would have held off McKeage if it hadn’t been for the caution.
“That last caution was my chance,” concurred Martin, who will turn 40 on Tuesday. “I had a great car all weekend.”
Richie Morse of Waterford was third with Searsport’s Duane Seekins and Charlie Small of Gray rounding out the top five.