Drive For Five: Johnny Clark Wins PASS 300

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Johnny Clark continued his storybook season on Sunday afternoon at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, winning the PASS 300 for his fifth PASS North Series victory of the year and firming his grasp on a fifth career series championship.

“We’ve been on an awesome tear all year long,” said Clark, a two-time winner of the PASS 300, having won the event in 2008 as well. “This is just phenomenal.”

Clark took the lead from Bill Rodgers on Lap 260 and then held off Cassius Clark on a restart with 19 laps remaining.

“I was pretty nervous when Cassius was coming,” Clark said. “He was the class of the field for the whole race, even on old tires.”

Clark used pit strategy past the midpoint of the event to put himself in position for victory, choosing to change all four tires at once to gain track position over other cars pitting for fresh tires and fuel.

He gave up the sixth position on Lap 177 to head to pit road, emerging with fifth place when the race went back to green.

“We weren’t very good for the first half of the race. The car was getting tight, loose — everything,” Clark said. “I just didn’t want to race anybody (early on). I figured we’d race them in the pits.

“The guys just did an awesome job on a 4-tire stop, coming in a straightaway behind the pace car and not losing a lap. It was a big gamble, but I think it was the winning gamble.”

Clark has now won three straight races, including two in PASS competition. He won the PASS North Series’ return to Spud Speedway in Caribou, Maine, on Aug. 21, and then won the Auto Value 250 open competition at Geary, New Brunswick’s Speedway 660 last weekend.

Perhaps more importantly, with fellow title contender Ben Rowe retiring early from the event with mechanical troubles, Clark has a comfortable points lead heading into the season finale at White Mountain Motorsports Park next weekend.

Unofficially, Clark owns a 71-point led over Rowe.

“We can’t control what (Rowe) is going to do. All we can control is the 54 car and make sure it’s fast and gives us a shot to win the race,” Clark said. “The guys just work their butts off all week long to make this happen.”