As the winter snow continues to melt throughout the state of Maine, 2013 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North champion Cassius Clark is one of the drivers most eager to see dry asphalt and the start of a new racing season.
After a dismal start to his 2014 racing season, the Farmington, Maine driver started to hit his stride during the middle portion of the year. He took the checkered flag at Speedway 95 (ME) on August 24 to score his first win of the season, just to have catastrophe strike minutes later.
Following a heated battle for the race win with eventual series champion DJ Shaw in the closing laps, the two made contact after the checkered flag. Clark’s car was sent hard into the dirt banking in turn one. The end result was a totaled race car and an early end to the racing season for Clark.
But now, with a few months to game plan and prepare for the 2015 PASS North season, the feisty Super Late Model veteran is chomping at the bit to get back behind the wheel during the season opener at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) on April 18.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Clark said of the start of the upcoming racing season. “We’ve got a brand new Port City car. This is the first one that I’m ever going to be able to drive with brand new parts and everything. From the steering wheel to the gas pedal, everything on it is brand new so I’m really looking forward to that.
“If the snow melts, we’ll be started up here fairly soon. It’s less than a month away now. We’ll get this thing together and hopefully get some good weather so that we can get a day of practice in before the race.”
Although the car will be brand new to Clark and the No. 77 Height Motorsports team, he believes they have a pretty good idea about what they need to do with it to make it go fast wherever they go.
“It’s a brand new car, but very similar to what we had before,” said Clark. “We’ll see how it comes out of the box and we’ve got some good notes from the other car and everything. We’re ready for the snow to melt to get after it.”
After having an unexpected early start to his offseason, Clark was already hungry enough as it is. But he says the addition of the new car to the Hight Motorsports team gives him even more motivation to go out and succeed.
“They’ve spent so much money getting this thing and keeping this thing going,” Clark stated. “Financially, it’s a burden on the Hights. They’re starting everything from scratch and totally rebuilding. From that aspect, I totally want to go out there and reward their efforts for that.”
What exactly would Clark consider to be rewarding their efforts?
Having the plans to run the full PASS North campaign, Clark said the ultimate goal is to add another championship trophy to the trophy case. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to necessarily “points race.”
“If you’re going to race all the races, you’re going to want to win the championship,” said Clark. “I’m not the type that likes to lie down and not go for a win. I kind of had to do that in 2013, but that’s the nature of the beast. But I’d rather lay it all on the line and go for the win.
“The fans are at the race track, not at the banquet. You obviously want to be the champion, though. It’s not much fun sitting there at the end of the year watching somebody else stand up there with the championship trophy.”
Over the course of his career in the Super Late Model ranks, Clark has been known for being a driver that lays everything on the line if a win is in his sights. While he says he’s learned many lessons over the course of his career, his mentality behind the wheel hasn’t changed a whole lot.
“From when I started racing Legends Cars, I don’t typically go out and wreck guys for wins,” Clark explained. “Obviously if I’m faster and they’re not giving me a groove, I do what I have to do to get by. But I have no problem trying to drive around somebody to go for a win.
“You learn things over the years. You learn who to race around, be around and what situation to try to go for and try to better yourself without getting into a situation where you may not be around at the end of the race.”
So what about that incident with Shaw that ended his 2014 racing season? Is that something he can easily forget and move on from with the start of a new year?
“Personally, I definitely want to go out there and kick his ass for sure. That’s what we’re shooting for and we’ll see where it goes. It’s something that you don’t forget. It’s nothing you forget. We’re ready to hit the race track.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Hight Motorsports