Prior to the 2012 racing season, Farmingdale, Maine’s Cassius Clark never thought of himself as much of championship contender. The 32-year-old veteran Super Late Model driver, who has raced in major Super Late Model races up and down the east coast, always thought of himself as more of a “go for broke” type driver. When he went to race tracks, he went there with one goal in mind. That goal was to win races.
After racing part-time on the PASS North circuit in 2011, Clark strapped into the Hight Motorsports No. 77 for a full-time schedule during the 2012 season. For the first time in his career, his goal was to race for, and win, a series championship.
“We kind of geared up and our goal was to win the championship in 2012,” Clark said. “I felt like it was the first championship I’ve really gone for. We’ve never really planned for it. Before that, I never thought of myself as much of a championship guy.”
Clark came up just short that season, losing the championship to Travis Benjamin by just 19 points after having a mathematical shot at winning the series championship during the final event. Coming up short of his goal that season made for a long winter for the Farmingdale, Maine driver. He and his team used that as motivation as they entered the 2013 season.
“It kind of really hit me after we came up just short,” Clark told Speed51. “We had a few issues that put us in the position where we were behind going into the last race. In the last race we came up short and it made for a long winter, that’s for sure.”
When that long winter came to an end, it didn’t take long for Clark to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with. The 32-year-old veteran began the 2013 season by winning an intense battle with youngster Joey Doiron to take the checkered flag in the series’ first event of the season at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME).
From there, Clark would add another feature victory at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) to his resume later in the season, as well as nine top-five finishes, en route to winning his first career PASS North championship.
“It definitely ranks up there at the top,” Clark said about his most recent accomplishment. “It’s a big deal to the team and everybody. A lot of fans you see around town here congratulate me; they’re all big supporters of me and have been ever since I got started racing legend cars. It’s good to see all those people and all the kind words they’ve given me.”
Throughout Clark’s championship season, he didn’t venture away from his “go for broke” attitude that he’s had throughout his successful career but he did discover that it’s better to “bite your tongue” at times when involved in a tight points battle. Clark’s best memory of this came during the final race of the season at Oxford Plains Speedway when he was battling three-wide for the lead with championship contender Joey Doiron and front-runner Scott Mulkern.
“We ran third there (at Oxford) and I thought we could have run with DJ (Shaw) and Scott (Mulkern) throughout the race at anytime,” Clark said. “We got ahead of Joey (Doiron) and kind of pulled away then we were racing three-wide for the lead and I didn’t see that there was any point of continuing to do that. I kind of had to bite my tongue and hold back the reins there.”
After chasing the championship in 2013, Clark will now become the driver being chased when the 2014 PASS North season begins in April. The driver of the No. 77 Hight Motorsports Chevrolet doesn’t mind that at all.
“I’d rather be chased than chasing,” Clark told Speed51. “When people are chasing you, you are usually doing the right thing. Obviously, you have a lot of guys gunning for you that are capable of doing great things. We’re just going to do everything we can do to stay out front. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in the whole Hight team.”
Before Clark begins his title defense in April, he will first need to claim his championship trophy at the PASS North Championship Banquet on January 18. For the first time in his career, he will be the last person on stage.
“I’ve been to a lot of banquets and I’ve never been the last one up, so it’s going to be nice to be able to finally do that,” Clark said.
What’s in store during his championship speech? Nobody knows, including the champion himself.
“I’m kind of more of a talk as I go kind of guy,” stated Clark. “I may give myself a couple cliff notes or something like that, but I’m more of a salesman type and will probably just wing it.”