For the second year in a row, a driver with the surname of Clark captured a long-overdue Oxford 250 victory.
Cassius Clark assumed the lead late in Sunday night’s race, then held off charges from Derek Griffith and Curtis Gerry to win the 48th running of New England’s biggest Super Late Model event.
More impressive, Clark had only run one other race since last year’s Oxford 250 – the Pro All Stars Series’ prelude to the 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway two weeks ago, a race he won.
“I hadn’t even been to the race track,” Clark said after the race. “But we’re two for two now, this year.”
The Farmington, Me. veteran flew under the radar for much of the race. Starting deep in the field in 25th, Clark patiently managed traffic, methodically working his way toward the top ten. Gerry, a local favorite, was the early star, taking the top spot from outside polesitter DJ Shaw early and leaving his competition behind.
Ben Rowe’s lap-108 spin bunched the field together, opening the door for Eddie MacDonald and Joey Doiron to split Gerry for the lead on the restart. MacDonald came out with the lead, but Doiron quickly dispatched “The Outlaw” for his own brief stint at the front.
Griffith drove around Doiron and into the lead a few laps later. Gerry settled back into third, but surrendered the position to defending race winner Johnny Clark just past halfway.
Concerns about fuel mileage were settled on lap 176, when a timely caution gave the leaders an opportunity to take fuel and tires. MacDonald emerged in the lead, with Cassius Clark exiting the pits in second.
Again, MacDonald’s time out front was short-lived, as a multi-car incident scrambled the field only two laps after the restart. Clark slipped through with the lead, trailed by Doiron, Johnny Clark and Griffith.
Griffith, one week removed from his NASCAR national-series debut, drove up to second, keeping pressure on Clark for the top spot. A few more cautions allowed Griffith to draw alongside Clark, but he could not get around Clark on the restarts.
A final caution for a backstretch collision between Jake Johnson and Derek Kneeland bunched the leaders up once more. This time, Gerry proved to be the bigger threat, moving to second and keeping Clark on edge in the closing circuits.
Gerry could get close, but he could not get around Clark’s fast white #13 by the finish.
Clark has another eighteen PASS North wins to his credit. But this, the nineteenth, was like no other before it.
“This is the Super Bowl, you know what I mean?” he said. “I grew up watching my dad try to win this thing. And everyone from Franklin County—Jeff Taylor, Tracy Gordon, so many good, good guys. The Rowes win so many of them. And we’ve battled with them at all the other places, but this just snakebit us for so long. Just a thorn in our sides. To finally pull it off is awesome.”
The 2013 PASS North champ has a reputation for excelling in long-distance races. But most of those have been in the Canadian Maritimes, races like the Toromont Cat 250 at Scotia Speedworld or the IWK 250 at Riverside International Speedway. “I think this is our eleventh ‘250’ win,” he said. “Just this is the first one at Oxford. It’s about time.”
Gerry, the 2017 Oxford 250 winner, came a fraction of a second shy of earning his second win in the big race. Instead, Gerry picked up his best finish in the race since that win. But for a driver who has nine PASS wins at Oxford, second place was at least a little disappointing.
Griffith crossed the line third, his second top-five result in six 250 starts. Doiron, a popular favorite entering the weekend, was fourth. Defending winner Johnny Clark overcame heat race struggles to finish fifth.
Eddie MacDonald, who was involved in another incident after losing the lead, came back for a sixth-place finish, ahead of Oxford regular Dennis Spencer. Trevor Sanborn won the last-chance qualifier to make the grid and improved for an eighth-place finish. Former Oxford 250 winner Joey Polewarczyk was ninth. Bubba Pollard, who started shotgun on the field, rounded out the top ten.
Not all were as fortunate as Pollard to have a provisional to fall back on. Stephen Nasse made headlines this week when he announced he would make a long-anticipated Oxford 250 attempt. The polarizing Floridian was quick in practice, but issues throughout his qualifying races kept Nasse from making the grid. Nasse was joined on the sidelines by former 250 polesitter Ryan Kuhn, Maine veteran Mike Hopkins, and last year’s runner-up Jeff Taylor, among others.
Clark, interestingly, was in a similar situation last year. Clark has raced for years for car owner Rollie MacDonald and King Racing, based across the Canadian border in Nova Scotia. With cross-border travel largely restricted due to the global pandemic, Clark and King Racing were unable to race for most of 2020. In their only start together, last year’s Oxford 250, Clark started 43rd and raced his way to 14th.
Clark was able to run a few races for car owner Chad Dow, but his real plans were with the King Racing operation, whenever they might be able to race.
“I raced three or four races for [Dow],” Clark said. “I ran [MacDonald’s] car once last year. And then I hadn’t raced since last year’s 250 up until two weeks ago.”
With some of the Maritimes’ traditional long-distance races coming up, Clark may add one or two of the Canadian crown jewels to his itinerary this season.
But his victory in Sunday’s Oxford 250 might be impossible to top.
Unofficial Results, PASS Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway:
1. (13) Cassius Clark
2. (7G) Curtis Gerry
3. (12G) Derek Griffith
4. (21) Joey Doiron
5. (54) Johnny Clark
6. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
7. (12) Dennis Spencer
8. (29S) Trevor Sanborn
9. (97) Joey Polewarczyk
10. (26) Bubba Pollard
11. (88B) Brandon Barker
12. (50) Jeff White
13. (99) Ben Ashline
14. (72) Scott Robbins
15. (1) Kyle DeSouza
16. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
17. (81) Dan Winter
18. (3C) Josh Childs
19. (36) Ryan Robbins
20. (24) Mike Rowe
21. (7) Travis Benjamin
22. (14) Scott McDaniel
23. (94) Shawn Martin
24. (20) JR Robinson
25. (90) Derek Kneeland
26. (03) Scott Moore
27. (10) Kate Re
28. (52NH) Jake Matheson
29. (18) Justin Larsen
30. (4) Ben Rowe
31. (63) Kyle Salemi
32. (15MA) Jake Johnson
33. (20P) Joe Pastore
34. (8) Calvin Rose, Jr.
35. (43) Devin O’Connell
36. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
37. (29T) Austin Teras
38. (47M) Ryan Moore
39. (61) TJ Brackett
40. (94H) Garrett Hall
41. (60B) Tim Brackett
42. (60) DJ Shaw
43. (00) Jeremie Whorff