GODLEY, Texas — While this fall's 'big shows' continue to offer insane money to Factory Stock teams all over the state of Texas, the IMCA Stock Car division just wrapped up a healthy and competitive season, as well. There were notable performances throughout our coverage area, one with big numbers.
For 19-year-old North Texas standout Blake Clark, the 2022 season was truly one to savor. Clark earned 19 wins and 27 top-five finishes in 62 starts this year, won the 2022 IMCA Southern Regional Championship, finished sixth in National points and won the title at Boyd.
“This year, we set out to have fun and travel to some tracks we had never been to before,” Clark said. “We had no intention of chasing points anywhere, we just wanted to go for wins. We knew it was my senior year of High School, and it might be the last time we'd be able to take off and travel.
“Early on this season, Dean Abbey started helping my Dad with chassis setups and driver techniques. With our travel this year, we've met some new friends who reached out to give us a helping hand.”
Along with setup guidance and driver coaching from Abbey, another friend was key, as well.
“The success we enjoyed this year would not have been possible without Leslie Gill,” Clark explained. “He is always there, no matter the time of day when I text or call with questions or needing advice. I can't thank him enough for all he's done for our program this year.”
Clark is already in his 10th season of oval racing, having gotten an early start. It was clear early on he had natural talent behind the wheel.
“I started racing in the Junior Mini Class at Kennedale when I was nine years old,” Clark explained. “I moved up to a Stock Car when I was 14. My Dad raced Stock cars in his day; that's where I got my number 88 because it's the one he ran, as well. I've been fortunate to have great people around me.
“Between my Dad and his best friend Jason Illich at HC Chassis, they have always provided me with a great-looking and very fast race car. Last season, I ran in two classes chasing points two nights a week at Kennedale and Boyd. We finished the year with three track titles and 22 feature wins.”
That excellent on-track effort last year set the stage for a dedicated effort in I-Stock for 2022.
“During the off-season, we decided to sell both cars and focus on just one class this year,” Clark added. “We bought a Harris Terminator chassis, and have been super happy with how it drives. Steffan Carey at West Coast Customs has been very helpful any time we've called or needed something.”
It isn't just Factory Stock that overflows with talent on race nights; I-Stock has plenty of heavy hitters.
“The level of competition we have in our class is way up there,” Clark said. “There are veterans and young guns like me that are always a threat to win. We have probably 10 to 12 guys on any given night capable of winning the feature. So the car has to be right every week and I have to be up on the wheel.”
When Clark suits up, grabs his helmet and gets ready to race, he climbs into a very capable machine.
“This Harris car was built in 2019,” he explained. “It didn't have many races on it when we got it, so it was almost like new. Jason at HC treats us really well; I'd be lost without him. As for horsepower, we got hooked up with Mid State Machine.
“I have all the power I need, and it's super reliable. John at Mid State is always trying to find a way to improve an already outstanding product.”
Along with his immense raw talent behind the wheel and that finely-tuned machine, Clark also has a handful of key people and sponsors who keep his program on-track and highly successful.
“I have to thank my parents for all they've done for my racing, especially my Dad,” he said. “The time we spend together is priceless. My family and friends are super supportive, and I appreciate all they do.
“I also need to thank our great sponsors, including HD Chassis and Custom Metal Fabrication; Stealth Oilwell Services, WCC Customs, Dirt Defender, Trophy Materials LLC, CRS Suspension and Fabrication, Mike Carlson Motor Company and James Stowers. I couldn't do all of this without them.”
While Clark may be done with racing for 2022, plans are in place to prepare the car for a busy 2023.
“We'll be stripping it all down to give it a thorough evaluation for next year,” Clark concluded. “This car treated us right all season, so we know if we go over everything this winter to ensure it's all good it will carry me to Victory Lane again in 2023. We were blessed this year, so we'll be grateful for now.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo By Mike Frieri