The young driver from Farmington, Maine, had taken the biggest victory of his career and a paycheck worth more than $12,500.
I actually didn’t even know I was racing for the win,” said Cassius. “I was kind of wondering why (Johnny Clark) was blocking me so bad. Then I came across the line and I wanted to see who was leading the thing, so I got on the radio and said, ‘Did I just win the race?’ and everyone was cheering.
“I was just going for it. I just wanted to get everything I could get and didn’t think about the win.”
Cassius took the lead after a fierce battle with (unrelated) Johnny Clark in the closing laps. Cassius set fast time in qualifying on Friday afternoon, so everyone knew that he was going to be a force throughout the weekend. Cassius started third after the Dash and was among the lead group throughout the race. On lap 194, however, Clark was sent to the rear of the field after making contact with the race leader, Michigan’s Brian Campbell. From there, he charged back up to the lead group, eventually engaging in and winning a heated battle with Johnny Clark for what was, even if Cassius did not know it at the time, the lead on lap 248.
“I just figured Ben (Rowe, who was up front most of the day but fell several laps down during the day and had just gotten back on the lead lap when the checkered flag flew) was way out in front. “I thought Johnny was blocking me because he knew I was faster. When I got by him there, he was chopping me down the backstretch, so I just gave him a little shot to let him know I was there. The next time I got a good run off two and got under him going down the backstretch. Then we just pulled away.”
Both Cassius and Johnny Clark are familiar with racing one another, as they have done it for the past several seasons on the PASS North tour. After securing the 2006 PASS North championship earlier in the year, Johnny was neither disappointed nor upset by the result of the race. Instead, he knew that he had been beaten fair and square by a good friend.
“If someone’s got to beat me, I want it to be Cassius,” said Johnny Clark. “He did a hell of a job, and he did exactly what he had to do. He got up to my bumper with two to go, and I was having a hard time keeping it on the bottom. I was really loose out, and he knew it. He got under me in the middle of the turn and wiggled me just enough. He knew what to do. He’s gotten really good at moving people and being really nice about it. He’s become a great racecar driver in the last couple years.”
Another Maine native, Mike Rowe, entered the Mason-Dixon Meltdown event 12 points ahead of Texas’ Ryan Lawler for the PASS South championship. Rowe ran up front most of the night, even leading on five different occasions, doing everything he could do to ensure the title. His efforts of a third-place finish in the Mason-Dixon Meltdown were more than enough, as Lawler was an early victim of a crash that ended his night prematurely, thus dashing the hopes of the 19-year-old for a title.
The Mason-Dixon Meltdown brought together the best Super Late Model drivers from the North and the South, but the Northerners swept the top-six finishing positions. Ben Rowe, Corey Williams, Johnny Clark, Brian Campbell, Cassius Clark and Mike Rowe all led laps, while the only Southerner to pace the field all race long was Florida’s Travis Kittleson. Kittleson had the best finishing position of the Southern drivers, as well, with a seventh-place result.
Behind Cassius Clark, Johnny Clark and Mike Rowe, Canadian Patrick Leperle, Massachusetts-native Rick Martin and Maine’s Ben Rowe completed the top-six sweep for the Northern drivers ahead of Kittleson. Jason Hogan, Scott Hantz and Dan McKeage rounded out the top-10.
Matt Hirschman held off fellow Northampton, Pennsylvania-native Eric Beers, James Civali, Burt Myers and Rusty Smith to win the Tour-Type Modified portion of the Mason-Dixon Meltdown. Earlier in the day at South Boston, Trevor Farbo finished inches ahead of Zach Stroupe to unofficially win the “Gamers’ Lounge 50” Pro Challenge Series event.
For more information on the Mason Dixon Meltdown, contact Matt Kentfield at (704) 455–2051 (ext: 5) and be sure to visit www.masondixonmeltdown.com.
November 25, 2006
South Boston Speedway, South Boston, VA
Finish Position, Start Position, Driver, Hometown
1. (3) Cassius Clark, Farmington, ME
2. (10) Johnny Clark, Farmingdale, ME
3. (1) Mike Rowe, Turner, ME
4. (35) Patrick Leperle, St. Denis, Quebec
5. (31) Rick Martin, Westport, MA
6. (2) Ben Rowe, Turner, ME
7. (6) Travis Kittleson, Merritt Island, FL
8. (7) Jason Hogan, Cleveland, GA
9. (16) Scott Hantz, Angola, IN
10. (25) Dan McKeage, Gorham, ME
11. (12) Brian Campbell, Grand Rapids, MI
12. (4) Corey Williams, Boothbay Harbor, ME
13. (14) Ryan Seig, Tucker, GA
14. (18) Tom McCann, Jr., Ocala, FL
15. (28) Chris Bowers, Washington, NC
16. (20) Alan Tardiff, Lyman, ME
17. (11) Clay Jones, Goldsboro, NC
18. (24) Brian Scott, Mooresville, NC
19. (9) Kyle Busch, Las Vegas, NV
20. (32) Chris Kennison, Oxford, ME
21. (13) Dean Clattenburg, Kannapolis, NC
22. (23) Travis Benjamin, Belfast, ME
23. (26) Trevor Sanborn, Parsonsfield, ME
24. (17) Justin Wakefield, Woodstock, GA
25. (31) Jeremie Whorff, Topsham, ME
26. (30) Chris Dunn, Raleigh, NC
27. (22) Tim Nooner, Salisbury, NC
28. (5) Ryan Lawler, Colleyville, TX
29. (15) Richie Dearborn, Hollis, ME
30. (19) Preston Peltier, Concord, NC
31. (27) Stan Meserve, Mooresville, NC
32. (8) J.C. Umscheid, Fort Worth, TX
33. (21) Boris Jurkovic, Joliet, IL
Caution Flags: 11
Lead Changes: 21 among 7 drivers
Lap Leaders: Ben Rowe 1-3, Corey Williams 4-6, Ben Rowe 7-25, Mike Rowe 26-44, Ben Rowe 45-47, Mike Rowe 48, Travis Kittleson 49-53, Mike Rowe 54, Kittleson 55-61, Mike Rowe 62-70, Kittleson 71-80, Mike Rowe 81-86, Kittleson 87-90, Mike Rowe 91-121, Cassius Clark 122-176, Brian Campbell 177-179, Ben Rowe 180-194, Johnny Clark 195-208, Travis Kittleson 209-233, Johnny Clark 234-248, Cassius Clark 249-250
Fast Qualifier: Cassius Clark, 15.110
Heat Winners: Kyle Busch, Johnny Clark, Clay Jones, Brian Campbell, Dean Clattenberg
Dash Winner: Mike Rowe