Conversation with Johnny Clark: Welcome to Clarksville – Population 8000!

Johnny Clark likes to go to the woods – the Geary Woods that is! He has ended up in Speedway 660’s Victory Lane four out of the last five times he has visited us. This weekend Clark is looking for another Auto Value 250 win when he takes on some of the best short track racers in North America. Wade Wilson talked with Johnny Clark about his racing career and SpeedWeekend 2012.

Johnny Clark has won four of his last five races at Speedway 660. On Sunday he will try to become the first three time Auto Value 250 winner during SpeedWeekend. Clark’s crew has been busy all week putting the famous number 54 back together after a bad wreck at a PASS race down in Connecticut last weekend.

Wade: Hey Johnny, the Auto Value 250 is happening this weekend. Do you need directions to Speedway 660 up here in New Brunswick?

Johnny: No Wade, I think we can find our way there, although the first time we came to Speedway 660 we kinda wondered where the heck we were headed when we turned onto that road going into the Geary Woods!

Wade: Before we talk about this weekend’s race, can you tell our fans how you first got into racing and how you got to where you are today?

Johnny: I always loved going to the races as a kid and actually started racing in 1995 in the Street Stock Class at Wiscassett. My Dad was a big influence and he made it possible for me to go racing. I got my first Pro Stock win in 1997 at Wiscassett. My career highlights include winning the 1997 Coastal 150, becoming the youngest driver to ever qualify for the Oxford 250, six Pro All Star Series championships and oh yeah, let’s not forget about those two Auto Value 250 wins at Speedway 660.

Wade: It would take a lot of space to tell folks about all of your racing accomplishments, but you just mentioned those six PASS championships and you are closing in on 40 wins on the tour. That’s pretty amazing.

Johnny: Thanks. What’s really amazing though is this race team. I get to drive a great car and if we go to Victory Lane I am the one who gets the credit, but I want to set the record straight right now that I am just one member of an awesome race team. Everyone on the team has an important role to play and shares any success we have had over the years.

Wade: You have won four of your last five races at Speedway 660. That includes two PASS 200’s and two Auto Value 250’s. What is it about this place that brings out the best in you?

Johnny: I like to go fast and Speedway 660 is a fast race track. Its turns are nicely banked and it has two distinct grooves. It’s a tight little track too and you have to stay focused because if you make a mistake, look-out because you’ll end up in the beach! The fans up your way are great too, they make us feel at home and they sure love their racing too. Speedway 660’s owners do a good job and your local drivers in every one of your divisions are pretty impressive. Fans in your area are fortunate to have an excellent race track in their back yard and an event like SpeedWeekend.

Wade: Shawn Tucker broke your winning streak here with a win in last year’s Auto Value 250 and you broke his streak with a PASS victory earlier this year. The two of you guys have got this place figured out.

Johnny: Shawn is one tough and cool customer. He’s got a great race team and you know they’ll put a wicked car under him this weekend. Shawn has two Auto Value 250 wins, just like us and Lonnie Sommerville. They’ll both be competitive this weekend. Shawn sure knows his way around Speedway 660 and always saves a little extra for those final few laps. We look forward to racing with him this weekend.

Wade: Tucker isn’t the only competition you’ll face this weekend. The Auto Value 250 will attract some of North America’s best short track racers.

Johnny: Yeah, this is one of the top races in eastern North America. The prize money is always good and with the Canadian dollar as strong as it is, this race attracts a lot of Americans, including the top PASS tour teams. You have to be at the top of your game to get to Speedway 660’s Victory Lane. An Auto Value 250 win is a highlight in anyone’s racing season and career.

Wade: People like you because you can wheel a car – plus you are fan friendly. But it takes more than that to be a winner – it takes a great team in the shop and in the pits to get where you want to be when the fireworks go off at the end of the Auto Value 250.

Johnny: Bobby Clark, Robert Green, Tim Clark, Terry Downes, John Clark, Paul Rice, Diane Clark, Craig Smiley, Bill Marshall, & Heidi Marshall don’t get enough credit for the work they do and I want to thank them for playing a big role in any success that I have had as a driver. Every driver you see in this weekend’s Auto Value 250 has got a strong team behind them. I’m a little partial, but I like my team and am thankful I am racing with them on my side!

Wade: Without giving away any team secrets, how are you going to approach this year’s 250 and what will it take to become the first three time winner of this race?

Johnny: Well to tell the truth, we are working hard just to get ready to head up your way this weekend. We wrecked bad down at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut during last Sunday night’s PASS race. We were battling Ted Christopher for the lead when we bounced off the fence down in turns one and two. The car got beat-up bad and we are scrambling just to get it put back together in time to head up to the Auto Value 250. So I am not sure how it’ll go, but I do know this team is going to do everything possible to get to Speedway 660 this weekend and put a competitive race car under me.

Wade: Did you know we are thinking about changing Speedway 660’s name to Clarksville?

Johnny: You are too funny! We like coming up to Speedway 660. It’s one of the highlights of our racing season. As I said before, the fans up there are amazing, it’s a great track and the Auto Value 250 is a tough race to win. We’ve got two of your trophies in our garage and hopefully on Sunday night we’ll be in the running to bring a third Auto Value 250 trophy back home.

Wade: Drive carefully on the way here, don’t get lost and best of luck in this year’s Auto Value 250.

Johnny: Thanks, after all of our trips up north, I think we can find Speedway 660. It will be a little harder getting to Victory Lane on Sunday night though. But we’ll do our best. Please say hello to everyone up in New Brunswick for us and we look forward to seeing you all this weekend.

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