Cassius Clark has raced just twice in 2021 and won both times, with one of those being the biggest win of his career in the Oxford 250 back in August. He now has a third race scheduled on the first weekend in December with a chance at history.
The Maine driver makes his first trip to the Snowball Derby since 2017, when he was the race’s hard charger, finishing fifth after starting the race way back in 29th. Only Butch Lindley and Kyle Busch have won both the Oxford 250 and the Snowball Derby at any point in their careers, and Clark can join that exclusive list with a win on December 5.
It will be his sixth appearance at the country’s biggest Super Late Model race, just four years after his career-best run in the race and just over three months after the biggest win of his racing career.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t race as much anymore as I used to when I was younger so anytime I can go to the racetrack, I soak it up and really enjoy it and put all efforts into a fun and successful go at it,” Clark told Speed51. “The last time we went down there I ran really decent, I think we ended up fifth there back in 2017 and we’ve been competitive the handful of times that we’ve been there. We’ll get down there and see how it shakes up.”
Clark’s win in the Oxford 250 last August came with a charge through the field from the 25th starting spot. It was a big win for the Clark family that was years in the making, which started with father Billy in the 1987 race and went through 14 starts for the younger Clark before holding off 2017 race winner Curtis Gerry in the final laps.
Two and a half months after that August night in Oxford, ME, the win has still yet to fully sink in.
“It’s still kind of surreal. I haven’t even been to the racetrack since that race. I’m not always thinking about it because I have a million other different things going on, but when you walk by the trophy, you’re like, oh, s—, it’s cool we finally won that d— thing. That was a checklist race that I had for my motorsports career that I wanted to check off and I was finally able to do that, it’s pretty awesome.”
King Racing was already planning a trip to Pensacola for the Snowflake 100 with driver Austin MacDonald, but that Oxford 250 win helped give Clark a chance to return to Five Flags Speedway to compete in the Snowball Derby.
“The King Racing team is focused on Rollie’s grandson Austin (MacDonald) racing there. I don’t think he was quite ready to run the Derby yet, he’s working at it and he’s been running real well in almost all the races he’s run in, but the Derby is a little bit of a different animal. They’re going to run him in the Snowflake and they were bringing one car down. We won a little bit of money at Oxford so it made good sense to give it a go.”
The Snowball Derby proves to be a completely different animal than what Clark’s accustomed to in the Northeast when it comes to the race format. He mentioned qualifying as a major difference when comparing the Derby to the Oxford 250 and other marquee races back home.
While time trials continue to be a unique thing for Clark, his recent qualifying runs have boded him well. He has qualified into the Snowball Derby on time in three of his five appearances, including when he started the 2007 race in fifth.
“Oxford’s a one-day show there, you have a couple days of practice but none of that means anything. You go out Sunday morning and line up for your heat races and go racing, where down there you practice for a couple days and time trial Friday night and try to get into the show.
“That’s another big thing, we don’t time trial. I think the last time we time trialed was the last time I was down there. I haven’t time trialed but maybe three or four times in the last ten years. I used to be good at it, hopefully I can be good at it one more time.”
His eyes will be set on the Tom Dawson Trophy and a Snowball Derby win to end the 2021 racing season with a perfect 3-for-3 mark, where he could become just the third driver to win both the Oxford 250 and the Snowball Derby.
“That would be unbelievable really. It’s a longshot but I wouldn’t be going there if I didn’t think we could run well and be in contention for a win. That’s what we’re going for and I think if we can get going good then we’ll have as good of a shot as anybody.”
Race fans unable to make it to Pensacola will be able to watch the 54th Annual Snowball Derby on Speed51.TV. More information will be made available at a later date.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo