July 11, 2013

AUTO RACING NOTEBOOK: PASS North finally gets back on track

Cassius Clark earns 2nd win of season as series gets break from rain

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Thanks to one rainout after another, Pro All Stars Series North drivers had about five weeks off before they finally saw a green flag fly last weekend at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough.

The layoff was worth the wait for Hight Motorsports driver Cassius Clark, who became the first two-time winner in the series this season when he took the checkered flag at the Southern Maine Motors 150 last weekend.

“We were ready,” said Clark, who vaulted into second place in the point standings. “We were looking forward to getting back into it. We stayed pretty sharp.”

Clark held off longtime PASS driver Mike Rowe at the finish line to earn his second victory of the season. He also won a 150-lap feature April 21 at Oxford Plains Speedway.

PASS North returned to OPS on June 28 but rain forced officials to postpone the feature after they ran the qualifying heats.

It was during qualifying when Clark and his team hit on a setup they ultimately took to Beech Ridge.
“The day at Oxford went real well, actually,” Clark said. “We had already won there but we felt there was some stuff that we could improve on. Although we got rained out, we still came up with a setup that we liked. We took it to Beech Ridge and it worked there, too.”

PASS North will try to run again tonight at OPS in its final race for the 40th annual TD Bank 250 on July 21.

“(Tonight) will be a good tuneup for us,” Clark said. “We’re ready. We’ll have a good baseline. We’ll go (tonight) to get us ready for the big one. It will be beneficial for us.”

• • •

Jeff Burgess is in no rush to repair his Late Model after it wrecked earlier this season at Wiscasset Speedway.

“I’m driving a car for Ed Trask now so I’ve put mine on the back burner,” said Burgess, the 2011 Late Model points champ at Unity Raceway. “Ed doesn’t mind spending money on a race car, which is a good thing.”

Burgess made his debut in the new Pro Stock two weeks ago at Wiscasset and finished second. He’ll be back at Wiscasset this weekend.

“We rolled out the new car and had a flat tire halfway through the race,” Burgess said. “So finishing second on three wheels is pretty good. Hopefully, we’ll be on four this weekend.”

• • •

Chris King planned to sit out last season after winning the Strictly Street division at Unity Raceway in 2011. The Burnham resident thought, at the time, that he needed a break.

“We sat out three or weeks and then we just couldn’t sit out any longer,” said King, 42. “So we came back.”

Despite the late start, King finished second in the standings last season. He’s all but locked up the title up this season. King, who has two victories in five starts, leads the division with 611 points. Ryan Robinson is second with 361.

The class is averaging only about six cars every week.

“It’d be nice if we had more cars,” King said. “It would be nice if we had a dozen cars because it would give you something to shoot for. I think we’re the only driver to start every week, but it is nice to running well.”

• • •

Unity Raceway will hold its annual John Phippen Memorial race Saturday.

Former Town Hill native John Phippen, who won seven track championships at three tracks in a storied 31-year career, died in 2010. Unity will hold a pair of 59-lap Late Model features.

Phippen drove a No. 59 car at Unity Raceway, Speedway 95 and Wiscasset Speedway. It was at Speedway 95 in Hermon where Phippen collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack after a race on Sept. 11, 2010.

Since then, the tracks he once called home have held memorial races in his honor.

• • •

Left turns: Mike Mayberry, the track manager at Oxford Plains Speedway, said 50 cars have registered for the TD Bank 250, which is July 21. “We’re expecting quite a few more,” he said.  “It’s going to be a good field of cars.” The race, for the first time in several years, will not feature a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. Mike’s father, Tom Mayberry, owns OPS.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
bstewart@centralmaine.com

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