The off season went by quick for all teams and for the series and now they returned for the opening weekend of the 2016 season. Not many changes were made to Patrick Clarks program in the off season. Minor truck changes, a few sponsors, but the biggest change would be an even more competitive driver behind the wheel of the #25 Budweiser/BFGoodrich Pro 2.
The opening weekend had a freshly groomed track in Chandler, AZ at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Teams from all over the West Coast showed up, shook off last years left over dirt in some practice laps and qualifying and then lined up for racing on Saturday.
The Pro 2 class is saved for the final race of the day as it is one to guarantee action packed racing for the fans. It is a stacked class yet again this year and the competition only continues to get harder as everyone finds new ways to improve in the off season.
In round 1 Clark started on the third row, next to Jeremy McGrath. The race did not go as planned for Clark as he took to the green flag and made his way around a chaotic course. Every driver was still finding their bearings for the year in the first race out. Clark would go door to door with Carl Renezeder but Clark was not able to complete the pass in lap 1. More chaos would shake up the racers as Clark found himself spinning out in lap 2 and making contact with the wall. This would cause Clarks truck to break and he would have to pull out of the race.
The team regrouped and worked hard into the night to get the truck back up to fighting order for the next days race. Qualifying would have Clark in 6th position, however with the inversion, Clark would be starting on the front row. This is just where he needed to be in order to pull out front and race a clean race all the way to the finish.
The roaring class of Pro2s paced themselves to the green flag and once it dropped they were on the gas. Every driver gunning for Clark. Clark was able to hold off Renezeder in turn one. Deegan would sneak around Renezeder on lap 1, putting pressure on Clark. The #25 truck was still able to pull away from Deegan and the pack as he made his way around the course and back to the front stretch for lap 2.
Clark continued to hold the entire pack off in lap 2 and still was pulling away from them. Coming around into the first turn of lap 3, Clark was struck with a racing gremlin that would have give his a mind of its own and send Clark into the wall with no power. Clark gathered himself up and was able to complete and get back on the gas but had already lost his lead and would pick the pace in the middle of the pack. The truck would do the same thing going into the next turn. It was at this point that Clark knew he wasn’t going to be able to complete the race with the truck losing power the way it was. The race leaders were crossing the start/finish line going into lap 4 when Clark had to call his race yet again.
“This is just the first race weekend of the season. We still have a chance to come back and set a better pace for the rest of the year. Hopefully we got rid of all the gremlins and can now make our way towards the top of that podium from now on.” Stated Clark.
It was a rough opening weekend for Patrick Clark and the team, but they will come back swinging in Rounds 3&4 which will take place at the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park where the racers will be flying high on this face paced course with the infamous “Ski Jump.”
Be sure to follow Patrick and his team on social media to stay up to date between race weekends.