The classy strokeplayer, who had passed fifty in seven previous innings this year but managed a top score of only 67, was dropped on 59 and 88 but made the most of his good fortune, hitting 15 fours and a six before falling for 109.
He shared a 97-run seventh-wicket partnership with 19-year-old all-rounder Joey Evison (58) to help Nottinghamshire to a total they will feel was a good effort after being asked to bat first on a well-grassed pitch that kept the Yorkshire seam bowlers interested for much of the day.
Yorkshire - for whom 20-year-old wicketkeeper Harry Duke held six catches - had the upper hand at lunch and tea with three wickets in each of the first two sessions.
And though the home side lost three more wickets in the final session, they picked up two potentially vital batting bonus points - and may yet claim a third - after beginning the final round of matches as one of four teams still in the hunt for the Championship pennant.
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Nottinghamshire lost both openers in consecutive overs an hour into the day. England batsman Hasseb Hameed played loosely at a wide delivery from Matt Fisher, while Ben Slater pushed at one from all-rounder George Hill that tickled the edge as wicketkeeper Harry Duke claimed the first two of five catches in the innings.
Although Clarke looked in ominous form, collecting four boundaries in quick succession off Fisher, Nottinghamshire lost a third wicket as Ben Duckett sliced Hill to backward point and were 79 for three at lunch.
By tea, Clarke was not out on 65 but had lost three more partners, all three caught behind. Steven Mullaney, who had hit Hill for three fours in one over to the short boundary on the Bridgford Road, prodded indecisively at Ben Coad, Tom Moores nibbled at one from Jordan Thompson and Coad made Liam Patterson-White his second victim.
In between, Clarke had his first escape as Adam Lyth shelled a straightforward chance at second slip off Coad, who is captaining Yorkshire for the first time with Steve Patterson sidelined by injury. Lyth was the guilty fielder again when Clarke was dropped off spinner Dom Bess after tea.
Evison completed a maiden half-century off 97 balls just before Lyth finally did make a catch and Clarke was on his way, Coad picking up his third wicket in the ninth over with the second new ball. Matthew Revis, Yorkshire’s 19-year-old seamer, dismissed Brett Hutton and Luke Fletcher to claim his maiden first-class wickets in his third appearance.
Yorkshire are also without Gary Ballance, who is unwell, and Dawid Malan, who joins Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and David Willey in being rested ahead of the winter international programme.