After a seven-year absence from the Snowball Derby, Farmington, Maine’s Cassius Clark will return to Five Flags Speedway (FL) for the 48th running of the prestigious Super Late Model event this December.
Clark, who pocketed $31,100 for winning a 250-lap race at Speedway 660 (NB) earlier this season, will be driving the Rollie MacDonald-owned No. 13 that he’s experienced success with during the latter part of the 2015 season.
“With the race being as big as it is, as prestigious as it is and the competition that there is, we’re really looking forward to it,” Clark said. “Since we teamed up this year we’ve had some pretty good success. There’s been a couple races that didn’t go as planned but we were in competition to win them and everything.
“We got some help through a few guys, the guy who used to own my old car Randy Wilson kind of helped us out a little bit and Rollie decided he wanted to take the car down and give it a shot.”
Clark has made two previous attempts at the Snowball Derby recording finishes 15th and 33rd. The box score doesn’t show how strong he was, however. He led laps during the 2006 Snowball Derby before being relegated to a 15th-place finish due to a broken wheel stud. He was also challenging for the lead in 2007 before being involved in an incident with a lapped car.
Heading south with the King Racing team that is more prepared for a big race like the Snowball Derby, Clark is confident that they can represent the Northeast well this time around.
“We didn’t get the results we were looking for, but we’ve definitely got some good competition up here and I’m looking forward to bringing the car down with those guys,” Clark stated. “They’ve got real good equipment and they’re a lot more prepared than my father and I ever were for sure. But yeah, wherever you’re from you get support from guys up here that aren’t racing that want you to do well.”
One of the challenges for a Northeast competitor at the Snowball Derby is the qualifying format that includes time trials. Clark is accustomed to qualifying through heat races, but that didn’t stop him during his two previous attempts at Five Flags. He qualified fifth in 2006 and eighth in 2007, easily locking himself into the big show.
“Honestly we didn’t do anything different and we didn’t have all the tires,” Clark admitted. “One year it was my dad and I, and we found some kid off MySpace to do our tires and stuff. We had a couple other people show up to the track and help us out, but we didn’t have anything special for time trials.
“We didn’t have a time trial set up and we didn’t even have a generator to heat the engine oil up so we kind of just went out there and went at it. We used to time trial up here before they went to heat races and for whatever reason could always seem to do fairly well with that. I feel like I’ve always been a half-decent time trialer. If the car is good and I don’t mess up on my lap than hopefully we won’t have any issues.”
Throughout the week at Five Flags Speedway, Clark and the King Racing team will also have a great resource to use in LFR Chassis, one of the nation’s leading chassis manufacturers. He is hoping that a two-day test session the week before the Derby will help them work out any bugs so that they can focus solely on speed when practice begins on Thursday, December 3.
“We’ve got a two-day test session there Thanksgiving week, so I’m looking forward to doing that and getting some things figured out,” said Clark. “It’s different now because we were racing with a crate motor, so we’ve got a bigger motor. McGunegill helps us out with a motor, so we’ve got that in there. We’ll try to work the bugs out of it and get the setup figured out with the higher horsepower and everything.”
Clark, the 2013 Pro All Stars Series North champion, doesn’t believe that he’s raced at any race track in the Northeast that as a whole compares to Five Flags Speedway. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t looking forward to returning to the track in December.
“It doesn’t have a whole lot of grip but it is fast on new rubber,” Clark explained. “Maybe grip-wise as the run goes on it’s similar to Lee (USA Speedway) or something like that because you have to keep the forward-drive in the car and maintain your tires there. As far as the shape and stuff like that, I’ve raced a bunch of them, but it definitely has its own qualities. It’s a fun track and one of my favorite tracks, really.”
Currently, Clark is the only driver from the Northeast region and Canada to file an official entry for the race. That means that as of right now he’s the only driver eligible for one of the three $551 bounties put up by Speed51.com for drivers traveling from the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast regions.
“You’d be surprised, it’s the little things like that help,” Clark said. “I was talking to my crew chief Andrew (Hicken) and he’s really pumped up for that. It’s not a whole lot but all of the little stuff adds up for sure. We’re looking forward to that and Speed51.com putting that stuff on. It’s something you don’t have to do. There’s four corners and we’re a long ways away, so it will get us through a couple toll booths and buy us some fuel to get down there.”
The 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off with the Cat Country/WEAR-TV3 Green Flag Party on Wednesday, December 2. On-track activities start Thursday, December 3, for the opening practice rounds for the Snowball Derby Super Late Models and Snowflake 100 Pro Late Models. The Five Flags Butler U-Pull-It Bombers and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Sportsman divisions will also have feature events on Snowball Derby Thursday.
The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on Friday, December 4 during WXBM 102.7 Pole Night at Five Flags. The Five Flags Faith Chapel Super Stocks and Modifieds will also battle in their Snowball Derby features after Super Late Model qualifying.
The Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 takes center stage on Saturday, December 5 as the top Pro Late Model racers in the country qualify and battle for 100 laps at Five Flags. In addition, Saturday’s action features the final 50-lap qualifying event for Snowball Derby drivers to make one last effort to qualify for the 300-lap Super Late Model race. The Better Built Tool Box Pro Trucks will also have a 50-lap feature on Snowball Derby Saturday.
Then on Sunday, December 6, the green flag will drop on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby at 2 p.m. CT at Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway.
For more information on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend at Five Flags Speedway, visit www.snowballderby.com. All media credential requests and inquiries for the Snowball Derby can be sent to Matt Kentfield at [email protected] and/or Pat Bryant at [email protected]
For more information on Speed51.com and the rest of the 51 Companies, contact Jana Wimmer (Director of Business) at 51 Sports via email through [email protected] and visit Speed51.com. Speed51.com is on Twitter at @speed51dotcom and on Facebook by searching Speed51.com.
-51 Sports/Snowball Derby Press Release. Photo credit: Norm Marx