After more than a year without a win, Johnny Clark of Hallowell, a six-time Pro All-Star Series North champion, is going all out to reach the podium in the 40th annual TD Bank 250 on Sunday at Oxford Plains Speedway.
“We’re unloading two cars on Friday and we’re going to do everything we can,” he said.
It will be Clark’s first appearance in the 250 since 2005, when he finished second to Mike Rowe of Turner.
“We were leading with 10 (laps) to go, and we bounced off the curb and gave the win to Mike,” Clark said.
In 2006, Clark’s car failed a post-qualifying tech inspection and he wasn’t allowed to race.
After that season, the 250 was restricted to Late Model cars run on the American Canadian Tour.
This weekend the Super Late Models from the PASS tour are back and so is Clark, trying to recapture the magic that made him one of the most dominant drivers on the PASS North tour for so long.
“I feel that everything that has made us so good in the past three or four years has made us bad now,” he said. “We were not trying anything new. We were riding off what was working. We’re weren’t working to get better. Everyone was working to beat us and everybody started to beat us.”
Clark, who ranks seventh in points among the 35 drivers with two or more starts on the PASS North tour, hopes to turn things around this weekend during the 101/2 hours of practice time leading up to Sunday afternoon’s qualifying heats for the 250.
“We’re looking to try to get some of that speed back,” he said. “We’ve been struggling for almost a year now. We haven’t won in a year now and I can’t think of a better weekend to get back on course.”
MIKE ROWE, a three-time 250 winner, also is bringing two cars to Oxford Plains for an attempt to make his first appearance in the race since 2006.
In addition to the car that has enabled him to occupy the second spot in the Pro Stock standings at Beech Ridge in Scarborough, Rowe will test a new car that was built in the memory of Jason Fowler, a driver from Scarborough who died in an auto accident last November.
“We tried (the new car) once and I couldn’t get through the corner very well,” he said. “We went back and changed the stuff and we’re going to test it Friday, and see how it goes. Hopefully we can get in a few races in memory of Jason.”
TRAVIS BENJAMIN, the defending PASS North champion from Morrill, is an early favorite to win Sunday’s race.
Last Friday night, Benjamin finished first in a 150-lap PASS North race at Oxford Plains.
Back in April, during the regional tour’s 150-lap season opener on the three-eighths-mile oval, he worked his way up to third place after starting 25th on the grid.
“I think we’ve got a good setup for this weekend,” Benjamin said, “as long as we have some patience.”
PRACTICE SESSIONS are scheduled for the Super Late Models over the next three days in preparation for the 250.
The SLMs will be on the track noon to 4 p.m. Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, then from 9 to 11 a.m. and 11:40 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Sunday.
THE TD BANK 250 isn’t the only race scheduled this weekend at Oxford Plains.
Friday night’s schedule includes a 75-lap PASS North Sportsman race as well as features in the track’s Street Stock, Mini Stock, Outlaw Sportsman, Outlaw, Runnin’ Rebel and Ladies divisions.
Saturday night’s schedule includes appearances by PASS Modifieds, Valente Modifieds and the NELCAR Legends tours, as well as feature races in the track’s Street Stock, Mini Stock and Outlaw Sportsman divisions.
Discounted tickets are available for all three days.
RACING IN the Pro Series, Roadrunner, Sports Series and Wildcat divisions is scheduled for Saturday at Beech Ridge.
No events are scheduled Saturday at Wiscasset Speedway.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: