Johnny Clark has a decision to make, and he needs to make it soon.

With the prestigious TD Bank 250 just days away, the Farmingdale driver knows the proverbial clock is ticking toward an answer.

“We have two cars and we don’t know which one we’re going with,” said Clark. “We’re bringing both to Oxford and we’ll test them both. Ideally, you want to go with the new car because you’ve invested so much money into it. We have a lot of money in one car and we want to see it through.”

The problem, at least for Clark and his team, is that the new car has performed well below expectations in Pro All Stars Series North action this season.

The old car, also a Chevy with a Port City Chassis, is collecting dust despite a past rich with victories.

Decisions, decisions.

“We’re running out of time,” Clark acknowledged. “We have to get this right. This is do or die for us.”

The 40th annual TD Bank 250 is Sunday at OPS with qualifying beginning at 2 p.m. The race will pay $25,000 to the winner with the possibility for more depending on laps led.

It also will feature a field of Super Late Models for the first time since 2006 when Bath native Jeremie Whorff took the checkered flag.

New track owner Tom Mayberry, who runs PASS, made the rules change this year, saying he wanted to bring the “bigger cars back.”

PASS drivers also ride Super Late Models, which feature wider tires and more horsepower than Late Models. Previous OPS owner Bill Ryan opened the 250 to Late Models.

The change of rules means the TD Bank 250 will feature an almost entirely different field from last year, including several drivers who seek redemption in the race.

Clark and Farmington native Cassius Clark, no relation, are two of them.

Johnny Clark last competed in the 250 in 2005, when he came in second to three-time champ Mike Rowe.

Cassius Clark, who is third in the PASS North points standings, started ninth in the race but finished 34th after blowing a motor. He hasn’t raced the 250 since.

“A lot of people thought we were the favorites to win that year,” he said, “but we blew up early. We haven’t been back for that race so we’re really looking forward to getting back there now. We’ll be ready.”

Johnny Clark, a six-time PASS North champion, led the 2005 race with about 10 laps to go before Rowe surged ahead for the victory.

“I wish I knew then what I know now,” Clark said. “Mike caught me but if it happened today I wouldn’t let that happen. I’m a smarter driver now.”

It’s been a difficult and frustrating last two seasons in PASS North for Johnny Clark.

After winning the title in 2011, his record fourth straight, Clark struggled to find victory lane last season. He won twice in 15 starts and finished outside the top 10 four times.

He’s seventh in points this season with three top-five finishes in five starts. He’s yet to win a feature, however.

“We’re just trying to get back on track,” he said. “It’s been tough. We think we’ve figured something out but then we don’t get the result we were looking for. We’ll get it right, though.”

And there’s no better time than Sunday.

Clark, who’s won 32 PASS North races in the last nine years, took the week off from work to focus on prepping both cars for the race. He also hopes to tap into his experience as a successful big-money driver.

Clark has won an abundance of races with large payouts, including the 2008 Toyota Tundra 250 at Wiscasset that paid him $30,000.

He’s also won a $15,000 race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and a few Canadian races that paid out $20,000 or more, including two in Geary, New Brunswick — the 2007 Peterbilt 250 and the 2010 Auto Value 250.

Asked why he’s fared well in the bigger features, and Clark shrugs the shoulders.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know why we do so well in those races. Maybe it’s because we are so prepared. I do know that we always seem to be in contention for these kind of races and hopefully that will be the case Sunday.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

 

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