NAPLES, Maine — After what seemed to be a never ending off season, Pro All Stars Series North competitors will begin the season Sunday afternoon at Oxford Plains Speedway.
This weekend’s Ripley and Fletcher 150 will take on added importance for the PASS North Super Late Models since they will head back to Oxford on July 21 for the 40th Annual TD Bank 250.
“There will be a lot of heavy hitters and all the teams will be raring to go at Oxford,” said six-time series champion Johnny Clark. “Everyone wants to make a statement that they’re ready for the 250. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the season then rolling into victory lane at OPS.”
The 2012 season was a bit of disappointment for Clark. Finishing fourth in points with two wins would be a great year for most drivers, but not for the man trying to stake his claim as one of the greatest racers New England has ever seen.
“I’m really excited for the start of the 2013 season,” said Clark. “We have been in the shop working hard prepping our equipment to have a successful year. The team is anxious to get going and make a solid run for a seventh PASS North championship.”
But, two of the drivers he will have to contend with at Sunday’s Ripley and Fletcher Ford 150 are the two men that came to Oxford last fall battling for the championship — Travis Benjamin and Cassius Clark.
Benjamin was a picture of consistency throughout the 2012 season, while C. Clark made a late-season surge for the title. In the end, Benjamin prevailed by 19 points over C. Clark to etch his name in the PASS record books as only the fourth different driver to ever claim the series title.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting being announced as the defending champion,” said Benjamin. “This weekend’s race will be a good race with a lot of cars. Everyone is trying to get a good setup for the 250. I think starting up front is going to play a huge roll in who will win this race. It could definitely come down to the luck of the draw.”
For Cassius Clark, last year was another near miss at the PASS North championship. But, his series leading three wins is even more impressive when considering that 2012 was his first full season racing with the Hight Motorsports team and crew chief Brian Burgess.
“We won some races last year and came up just a little short of the championship,” said C. Clark. “All in all, we had a great first year together but we all want more and have worked hard over the off season to achieve that. We are more ready than we were last year and have all worked together for a while now. Plus, Brian and I are getting a good feel for our Port City chassis.”