Jessica Clark Qualifies 3rd & Earns 1st Top10 in Lucas Oil Modified Series' Topless 100

In her first season of Lucas Oil Modified Racing Jessica Clark has earned the respect she was looking for
In her first season of Lucas Oil Modified Racing Jessica Clark has earned the respect she was looking for
Jessica Clark had six long weeks to wait and prepare for the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series presented by Loan Mart, Topless 100, hosted at the infamous I-10 Speedway in Blythe, California. And the team's first top-10 finish was well worth the wait. The quarter-mile paved oval is bullring shaped and its tightly wound nature makes passing difficult at best. To get ready for the challenging event Jessica Clark Racing executed some astute out-of-the-box thinking.

"Part of our normal car maintenance prior to each race involves straightening out any panels that may have been bent from the previous race and replacing any bumpers that are too bent out of shape to fix. This time we did the opposite!" Clark remarked "We put all of our bent door and quarter panels on the car, along with semi-smashed bumpers for the race in Blythe. We knew that they would only be further damaged in the 100 lapper, because I-10 Speedway is one of the most difficult tracks we travel to."
Jessica Clark qualified 3rd at the Topless 100 and she finished the Main in 6th place
Jessica Clark qualified 3rd at the Topless 100 and she finished the Main in 6th place

Clark, a 19-year-old rookie in the Lucas Oil Modified Series, made it clear she's intent on earning the respect of her fellow competitors, and by all measures, he's succeeded big-time. Based on her lap times during practice her crew wasn't even certain he would qualify in the top-10, but Clark was merely taking some extra time to get her line down, which proved to be yet another savvy move that paid dividends.

"I wasn't that worried," Clark said, "I knew I would drive the car at 102% in qualifying." And the talented young K&N driver made good on that forecast. "When I rolled back into the pits after qualifying, I felt as if I had overdriven the car. I asked my dad where he thought I qualified, but he didn't have a clue. Then I saw my mom running through the pits with a big smile on her face. 'You're in 3rd!' she exclaimed. What a great feeling that was!"
Jessica Clark followed up the Blythe race with another top-10 finish at Havasu 95 Speedway
Jessica Clark followed up the Blythe race with another top-10 finish at Havasu 95 Speedway

Clark lined up for the Topless 100 Main in 6th position, along on the outside. "The inside line is preferred at this track since there is no grip on the high line, so I had my work cut out for me right from the start," she said. The race ended up having minimum of seven cautions and three red flags, yet Clark managed to stay out in front of the mayhem, and by lap 50 she was running in a solid 5th place, and had even moved into 4th place at one point. Ninety grueling minutes after the race started, wearing a helmet-wide grin, Clark crossed the finish line in 6th place. She and the team had finally earned that confidence boosting top-10 finish they had been looking for.

"It felt great to finish in 6th place especially at a track like the I-10 Speedway," declared Clark. "I think what felt even better however, was qualifying 3rd for that race. I was able to show everyone that I didn't just get lucky in the feature. I earned my spot by qualifying well. I am so proud of my team and their efforts. I travel to races with my dad, mom, and one other crew member (usually my friend Zac) and the four of us work extremely hard all race weekend. None of us have ever wrenched on a Modified before this season so I am very happy with how quickly we all learned and progressed. We have high hopes for next season."

The Lucas Oil Modified Series generally goes with "Cone" restarts, but with racing being a spectator sport, a decision was made that double-file restarts in Blythe might add even more excitement. It was in that scenario that keeping on the old panels and bumpers proved to be a wise decision for Jessica Clark Racing.

"The double file restarts were 100% for the crowd," Clark confirmed. "And they (fans) got to see more than enough crashes, and unfortunately, it caused a very long race. It didn't affect me because I qualified well enough to get a starting position up front. Things started to get a bit messy from the 5th row back on the restarts though, because the outside line is nonexistent. I made a couple attempts to gain positions on the restarts by choosing the high line, but it never helped because I didn't have enough traction out there."

Riding the momentum from her results at the Blythe event, in her next race at Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Clark finished with another 10th place.

"I was really excited for that race because it's a very ‘racey' track," said Clark. "By that I mean that the track has more than one line. But for some sad reason though, the high line disappeared after about 20 laps in to the 75 lapper. That is when I found myself stuck behind some pretty slow cars. They added a little curb to the inside of the track so that the drivers couldn't put their tires in the dirt (mainly on the exit of 4), and this detail made it very hard to pass, because slower cars would suck down to that curb and never give up an inch. I used to like to make my passes there by hanging one or both of my left side tires in the dirt, and then drag race the other car down the front straight. But I couldn't do that this time. I may have turned a couple of the slower driver's panels into ‘old panels,' but I didn't wreck anyone, and I got our team one more top-10 finish!"

Related K&N News Articles about the Lucas Oil Modified Series: Jason Patison Wins the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series LoanMart Hot August 75; Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series Racer Chris Gerchman and Series Champion Jim Mardis Battle for Points; Lucas Oil Modified Racaing Series Stock Car Racer Jessica Clark Continues to Improve Her Skills; K&N is Onboard for the 2013 Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series’ Most Competitive Year Yet