Solid Effort Gets Clark’s Season Off On Right Foot

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — Johnny Clark Motorsports got its 2010 racing season off to a great start on Sunday, with a dominating effort en route to a 2nd-place finish in the PASS Winterfest 150 at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway.

The race was originally scheduled for Saturday evening, but bad weather forced its postponement until Sunday afternoon.

Clark enjoyed a full straightaway lead with just five laps remaining and appeared to have a win in hand. But a late caution flag bunched the field to set up a race restart with just five laps remaining.

“I was pretty bad on restarts all day,” said Clark, of Farmingdale, Maine. “I was just a sitting duck.”

Brad Leighton of Center Harbor, N.H., capitalized by taking the lead and then the victory.

“It would take me four or five laps to catch the guy in front of me (on restarts),” said Clark, noting that the outside lane was the preferred groove on the fast, half-mile track. “I just didn’t have enough time at the end to get the lead back.”

Clark led a total of nearly 90 laps in the first of five PASS National Series races scheduled for 2010. The 4-time PASS North Series champion was the quickest of 24 cars in time trials earlier in the afternoon and lined up fourth on the starting grid following a re-draw of the fastest qualifiers.

He was disappointed not to have won after leading on a number of different occasions Sunday, but he conceded it was a great start to the new year.

“Absolutely,” Clark said. “We were awesome all weekend. Considering we didn’t even have a race car together two weeks ago, I think this said a lot about our team. We didn’t even know we were coming to Florida until the last-minute, but we proved that we’re ready to go.”

Clark anticipates that his next start will come in round No. 2 of the PASS National Series — in the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway on April 3.