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Clark Claims $10K Bounty in Inaugural PASS Bay State Classic

The six-time champion is paving a path to his seventh PASS title with wins in two of this year’s biggest races.

Johnny Clark, seen here at Lee USA Speedway earlier this year, took his second PASS North win of 2021 in Wednesday's $10,000-to-win Bay State Classic. (Jeff Brown archive photo)

Over the last twelve months, Johnny Clark has shined brightest on the Pro All Stars Series’ biggest stages.

Wednesday night, he padded not only his points lead, but his wallet as well.

The six-time PASS North champion held off reigning series champ DJ Shaw to win Wednesday night’s inaugural Bay State Classic at Seekonk Speedway.

Clark first conquered the Massachusetts third-mile in 2011, but the Farmingdale, Maine veteran had not been back since 2012. And with a truly stacked field for the weeknight show, the “Cement Palace” seemed an unlikely place for Clark to claim his second PASS win of 2021.

But Clark showed no signs of rust. He took control on lap 62 of the 150-circuit main event, then held off charges by Shaw and Seekonk graduate Ryan Kuhn on a late restart. In the end, Clark crossed the line just a second ahead of Shaw to secure the $10,000 winner’s purse.

Shaw, who had not cracked the top ten since his June win at Oxford Plains Speedway, held on for his fifth top-five finish of the season. After skipping the third event of the season, Shaw is not in the running for the PASS title, but he has been as persistent as ever on the track.

Kuhn backed up his home track experience with a third-place finish. The former Seekonk Late Model track champ finished second to Mike Hopkins in PASS’ previous visit to Seekonk in 2019.

Early leader Eddie MacDonald recovered from a late flat tire to finish fourth. Derek Griffith, winner of a $10,000-to-win Pro Stock feature at Seekonk in 2017, was among the early favorites but came home fifth.

Multi-time Seekonk Pro Stock track champ David Darling was sixth, matching his best PASS finish since 2011. Former Seekonk D.A.V. Memorial winner Wayne Helliwell, Jr. was seventh in his first PASS start since the 2020 season opener. Derek Ramstrom was eighth at the stripe, ahead of Deerfield, N.H. racer Dan Winter. PASS rookie and ACT journeyman JR Robinson rounded out the top ten.

Wednesday’s race was the first of three $10,000-to-win events this week for New England’s Late Model and Super Late Model competitors. While Clark is not entered in the other two events, Shaw, MacDonald, Griffith and others have plans for another shot at a big payday Saturday evening.

Clark’s 2011 win at Seekonk was one of seven he scored en route to his sixth PASS North title. But last year’s two-win season was his first multiple-win season in the series since 2012. From 2013 through 2019, Clark finished second in points twice, but never won more than one PASS North event a year. And for three of those seasons, Clark ran a reduced schedule, while keeping his focus on a coveted Oxford 250 victory.

Last year, though, Clark returned to full-time competition. A midsummer win at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H. was his first PASS victory since 2016. A month later, Clark earned his Oxford 250 win, a race he had said he would trade all his PASS championships to win. In his first full season in three years, Clark was the title runner-up to DJ Shaw, who closed the gap on Clark’s six titles with five of his own.

Clark opened this season strong, taking a brand-new car to victory in the inaugural Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Since then, with Shaw and several of last year’s contenders out of the points chase, Clark has emerged as an easy favorite to claim his record seventh PASS North crown.

Tough nights for Ben Rowe, who finished laps down in a backup car after damaging his primary before even hitting the track, and Kate Re, who was eliminated in a lap-55 crash, only served to extend Clark’s advantage in the standings.

Two more Seekonk visits in 2021 this fall, including the championship finale, should be encouraging for the points leader as the season ticks down.

And with wins in the last three big-ticket events under the PASS banner, only a month away from the grandest event on the series calendar, Johnny Clark is picking up momentum at exactly the right time.

Unofficial Results, PASS North Bay State Classic 150 at Seekonk Speedway:
1. (54) Johnny Clark
2. (60) DJ Shaw
3. (72) Ryan Kuhn
4. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
5. (12G) Derek Griffith
6. (52D) David Darling
7. (27NH) Wayne Helliwell, Jr.
8. (35) Derek Ramstrom
9. (81) Dan Winter
10. (20) JR Robinson
11. (2) Tom Scully, Jr.
12. (29) Trevor Sanborn
13. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
14. (97) Joey Polewarczyk
15. (30) Fred Astle
16. (52NH) Jake Matheson
17. (40) Mike Mitchell
18. (39) Nick Lascuola
19. (02) Brian Whalley
20. (46) Dylan Estrella
21. (4) Ben Rowe
22. (76RI) Tyler Tomassi
23. (12) Bobby Pelland III
24. (90) Craig Weinstein
25. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
26. (15MA) Jake Johnson
27. (20D) Joey Doiron
28. (8) Angelo Belsito
29. (10) Kate Re
30. (11RI) Ryan Vanasse
31. (44) Mike Brightman
32. (17) Kevin Folan

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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