Johnny Clark, a six-time Pro All-Stars Series champion, snapped a nearly two-year winless streak in his last PASS start.
Now Clark, a Hallowell resident, is eager to return to the winner’s circle in his home state when the PASS North Super Late Model 150 gets the green flag Saturday night at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough.
“I love coming to Beech Ridge,” said Clark, 34. “It’s a class-act facility and management, and they do an excellent job.”
Clark is second in the PASS North standings, trailing D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, by four points.
“That’s two positions on the track with a lot of racing left,” Clark said.
Clark won at Speedway 660 in Geary, New Brunswick. His previous win also came at Speedway 660 on June 10, 2012.
At that point it looked like just another win en route to a fifth straight championship. Clark, who also won PASS titles in 2004 and 2006, had a title streak from 2008-2011 when, he said, “we were winning half the races.”
Then the wins started coming less frequently and “we hit the panic button,” Clark said. Instead of improving, the car became slower and last season “we were struggling to stay on the lead lap,” he said.
“That was really hard on us and in hindsight, when you look back on it, it was the best thing that ever happened to us because it made us work hard over the winter,” said Clark, driver of the No. 54 car.
Shaw leads the series with three wins.
Mike Rowe, 60, of Turner is third in the standings in his PASS series return. Rowe won the season opener at Beech Ridge. In 2013, Rowe raced full-time at Beech Ridge and won the Pro Series season title.
Travis Benjamin of Morrill, the 2013 Oxford 250 champion, and Joey Doiron of Berwick are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the PASS North points race.
PASS has been a significant part of the Maine motorsports scene since its inception in 2001. The touring series is built around a small core of drivers (it hasn’t had 10 or more drivers start every race since 2003) and counts on others to fill a competitive field at various stops.
Among those on the entry list for Beech Ridge is Reid Lanpher, the current Pro Series point leader at the track.
Lanpher, 16, of Manchester, is coming off his first feature victory at Beech Ridge, taking the NASCAR Whelan All-American Series Firecracker 50 on Tuesday.
He was 11th in the PASS race at Beech Ridge in May.
“He has run a few PASS races and now that he’s run Beech Ridge every week he’ll be tough,” Clark said. “He’ll be good.”
Notes: Racing at Beech Ridge begins at 7 p.m. Saturday. Gates open at 3 p.m. and tickets are $20. In addition to the Pass North main event, the Beech Ridge Sport Series and Wildcats will have feature-only racing. The Pass Mods also will be racing. … A Beech Ridge Pro Series regular, Corey Bubar, 22, of Windham won the Pro Series 125 at the Ridge on June 28, and made seven PASS starts in 2013. But Bubar said Thursday he won’t be entering the PASS race. Bubar said his team’s main focus is on racing for the NASCAR Whelan All-American Series at Beech Ridge, which is a separate point series from the track championship.
“We’ve had two wins, which is pretty good, and all the rest were top 10s except one where we got in a wreck,” Bubar said. “That one (did not finish) pretty much kills our chance at the track championship, but after winning that 125-lap race we’re only four points back in the NASCAR state points.”
A Beech Ridge regular, Dave Farrington, has the lead in that category.
Bubar’s win in the 125-lap race counts only toward his NASCAR points. Plus the NASCAR tally only counts feature events.
“Which tells you I haven’t been that good with my heat races,” said Bubar, who is ninth in the overall track points.