The first time we posted a story about Jessica Clark back in 2009 she had already inked five years of go-kart experience on her race resume. Back then the sixteen-year-old was just starting to stir things up on the southern California Jr. Midgets racing circuit. In her first full season of Jr. Midgets she was awarded the "Most Improved Driver" and finished second in the points standing. There were a number of things that were immediately evident about Clark, she's real smart (carried a 4.0 GPA in high school), she's a self-motivated hard worker, and she possesses innate racing instincts, that combined with her dynamic drive, will serve her well on the journey to the top-tier of the motorsports world.
Jessica Clark's race savvy grew exponentially during 2013
Last season marked Clark's successful rookie year running in the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, where she took yet another big step on route to meeting her goals. We spoke with Clark and her dad, Rich, who she says "Devoted countless hours to educating himself on every aspect of the car."
Looking back on the year what are some of the significant highlights that stand out, moments that brought the most satisfaction, produced disappointments, or you simply didn't seeing coming?
"Some highlights from the 2013 racing season in the Lucas Oil Modified would include my 4th place qualifying at Irwindale Speedway, followed by my 3rd place qualifying at the I-10 Speedway in Blythe. It was great to prove to myself and everyone else that I can hang in the top-5 and have success. Finishing 6th at Blythe in the main event was good as well, but not satisfactory, because I race for the win."
Rich Clark, Jessica's dad, cites "tire management" as the most important lesson from last season
"As far as disappointments go, I was frustrated at the fact that I got taken out on lap four of our biggest race of the year at my favorite track (The Las Vegas Bullring), but I understand that that is a part of racing. My friend said to me ‘Sometimes you're the bug, and sometimes you're the windshield, that's racing.'"
Let's give your dad a plug for his monumental efforts this season. Rich, what are some important lessons you learned about the Modified Series that you'll apply in 2014?)
"One of the biggest lessons I learned is tire management. The series uses a Hoosier 700, which is an 8-inch grooved tire, and it is quite hard in its rubber compound. The tire cannot be purchased outside of the series, and can only be bought at the track on Friday night practice or on race day. Because of this, getting the right tires in terms of chalk line, and bringing them into the right stagger combination for race day, can be quite tricky."
Jessica's focus and determination will surly push her forward towards her goals in 2014
"Although the tire is very durable, and can run for hundreds of laps, it falls off quickly under the massive horsepower generated by the modified. We learned that the tire is good up to approximately 150 laps in terms of elapsed time, but it is best from 10 to 25 laps. So the year of recording a great amount of tire data in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet will provide a great information source going into 2014. The data has provided tendencies that will be used for tire management on all the tracks we visit in 2014."
I'll ask you the same thing Jessica, what are some critical lessons you learned about yourself and racing in this series?
"Racing in this series is forcing me to amp up my game. I know I can have success in this series, it is going to take a lot of mental training and a winner's attitude to pull it off, and I have already started preparing myself for the 2014 season. Luckily I have a crew, family, and great supporters who are helping me on the path to achieving my dream."
Of course I want to thank our sponsors, Pit Image, K&N Filters, Third Point Productions, and Race4Girls, for all of their support. I must also thank Greg Sheidecker and Bill Rozhon for their dedication to running the Lucas Oil Modified Series. I am so grateful to be able to race with such a competitive group of individuals."
What are some of your race goals for 2014 and when and where does the season start for you?
"Our season starts on March 1st at Havasu 95 Speedway. My goals for the upcoming season are to qualify at the top of the leader board and win races. The competition is stiff, but I am certain that I have the talent, drive, and equipment to win a feature show in the Lucas Oil Modified Series."