Message board hissy fits

Funny, isn't it, the way some people come up with these wild assessments of race car drivers?

I ran across this one on an internet message board:

"I think its perfect for the little spoiled brat," said the poster, talking about Cassius Clark being out of a PASS ride for the moment. "He wouldn't last two seconds in ACT, they wouldn't put up with his hissy fits when he doesn't get his way."

I've been covering Cassius for years now. Never once have I seen him throw a "hissy fit." He's also never acted like a "spoiled brat." And, for that matter, he's never really been petulant, childish or out of control.

In fact, the only thing I can think of about Cassius was in 2006, when he and Mike Rowe made contact coming off of the final turn while racing for the win at Speedway 95. Rowe won, and Cassius was understandably upset.

It happens in racing. Guys are competitive. Guys get frustrated, even mad.

But I love the "spoiled brat" line. Almost as much as "hissy fit."

I've talked to Cassius minutes before a race, and he's always easy-going and surprisingly unassuming. I've talked to him after he's been stripped of a win for a car PASS officials deemed illegal, and he's always been professional and accountable. Heck, I've talked to him twice now after splitting with car owner Ed Chapman, and both times he says he doesn't want to say much about it, that he wants there to be no hard feelings, that Chapman has always done right by him.

I've also seen it written elsewhere that it would serve Cassius right to be "stuck" in an ACT car. Well, he doesn't necessarily see it that way. Though he has a preference for Super Late Model racing, he's also said he'll race anything.

Including ACT cars.

Huh, imagine that. A racer who'll race anything. Reminds me of the good old days.

Cassius Clark a free agent

I find it hard to believe that Cassius Clark will be out of a car for very long.

After winning 10 races together in 5-plus seasons of PASS competition, Clark and car owner Ed Chapman have agreed to part ways. The announcement came down this week, just 4 months after a brief 2-day split back in April.

“It just wasn’t really working out. That’s about it really,” said Clark, who will not be in Halifax this weekend for the Atlantic Cat 250 at Scotia Speedworld. “There’s no hard feelings. I just thought it was best for me to head in a different direction now, that’s all.”

Clark said he has no definitive plans for the remainder of the season, but he is exploring all of his options. He won twice this year -- once at Scotia and once at Speedway 95, where he was disqualified in post-race technical inspection and stripped of the victory.

The Clark-Chapman marriage apparently became rocky in April, when, just days before the start of the season at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Clark said he was informed he no longer had a car to drive for Chapman. They reconciled within days and were at Beech Ridge.


Driver for hire: Sterling Marlin

I found it hard keeping a straight face, hearing Sterling Marlin say he'd only be back in a Nextel Cup car if the ride was "competitive," that it's "got to be a decent ride or nothing."

Let's do a little simple math here.

Sterling Marlin is 50 years old, hasn't won a race since 2002 and has just 4 -- 4! -- top-5 finishes in that time. In a Cup career that began with a debut 31 years ago, the Tennessee native has just 10 wins.

It's not exactly a resume that will have the Gibbs, Hendricks or even the DEI/Ginn merger -- the same company that shut his team down -- knocking down his door. In fact, I think it would be safe for Marlin to make any fishing or vacationing plans he'd like over the next few months.

Marlin also said he'd be willing to hit a partial Busch Series schedule, 12-15 races a year, something in that ballpark. Given the youth movement from Cup teams everywhere, it's hard to imagine a good Busch ride is lurking right around the corner for a 50-year-old driver whose best years are behind him.

Given that 20-somethings winning races all over the country can't get NASCAR rides, how could a guy like Marlin?

Even accomplished Cup drivers comparable to Marlin -- like Ricky Craven, who is also ruling out retirement should the right opportunity present itself -- can't find competitive Cup seats. Does the name Ward Burton ring a bell? He's certainly one of Marlin's contemporaries struggling to find a good seat at either the Cup or Busch level.

There's always the Craftsman Truck Series, where NASCAR puts its aging stars out to pasture.


Can't we all just get along?

Looking for some proof that Robby Gordon is as authentic a personality as NASCAR has going right now?

Check out the link to this story.

Hey, Marcos -- no hard feelings, eh, mate?

So, then, what exactly is probation?

I'm sorry. I was under the assumption that being "on probation" meant that you were actually "on probation."

Maybe not, at least in NASCAR's eyes.

See, when the sanctioning body fined Nextel Cup driver Robby Gordon $35,000 on Tuesday as a response to his actions in the Busch Series race in Montreal on Saturday -- when Gordon repeatedly ignored directives from officials -- it also put him on probation. With a stipulation.
NASCAR issued the following release when announcing the penalties this week: "The fine and probation also carried the stipulation that if, during the remaining NASCAR events in 2007, there is another action by Gordon that is deemed by NASCAR officials as detrimental to stock car racing or to NASCAR, or is disruptive to the orderly conduct of an event, he will be suspended indefinitely from NASCAR.”
Call me crazy. I thought that's what probation was -- that if you did something else, you could be suspended. Apparently, as in all things NASCAR, the sanctioning body has its own definitions. I mean, how can we expect NASCAR to be held to simple things like, oh, I don't know, word meanings and rulebooks.
So, if you're fined, docked points and put on probation, that's one thing. If you're fined, docked points and put on probation with a added warning from NASCAR, that's another.
Got it?

Cooling off

I heard it again this afternoon, driving through my hometown with FOX racing analyst Jeff Hammond on the airwaves. Another of the big myths NASCAR loves to perpetuate.

Discussing Tony Stewart's whole "B.S." quote after his win at Indianapolis a couple of races ago, Hammond essentially said that Nextel Cup drivers shouldn't be fined so heavily or docked so many points for a slip of the tongue in the heat of the moment. Hammond also said that in other sports like basketball, football or baseball, athletes are given a cooling off period that NASCAR drivers aren't afforded.

That's categorically and unequivocally untrue. Period.

After every national NBA, MLB and NFL game broadcast, a key player is immediately interviewed by some TV talking head while still on the court or field. A number of local affiliates now do the same thing -- evidenced by the New England Sports Network's Red Sox broadcasts, which talks to an instrumental player before they even get back to the dugout following the game's final out.

It's everywhere in every sport at every level. Sideline interviews. Halftime interviews. MVP interviews. Heck, the only people waiting for cool-down periods anymore are the print media lackeys.

How can NASCAR types continue to suggest their drivers shouldn't be held accountable for what they say after heated race conditions -- and, by saying they need to be given some leeway, that's exactly what they're doing. Everybody else can watch their tongues during immediate post-game interviews, why can't some drivers?

Of course, it's not as though a 10-minute cool-down would help anybody. Unlike other athletes in other sports, NASCAR drivers make the mad dash for the helicopters as soon as they can change out of their driver suits -- sometimes sooner. Wait 10 minutes after a race for any Cup drivers still around, and you're likely to only see the guys coming out of meetings with Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton.

And maybe Morgan Shepherd, because he has to do all the work for his hauler himself.

Hey, I truly don't care what drivers say in their post-race interviews. I don't. Just don't tell me it's not their fault when Robby Gordon vents about Michael Waltrip or Dale Earnhardt Jr. fires off an S-bomb. And don't tell me guys in other sports aren't put in the same position, because they are.


The things you find on the internet

Top 10 reasons why Elvis is a short-track fan:

1) After the Flying Elvis stunts in "Honeymoon in Vegas," he wanted to try driving.

2) The big sunglasses make him a better spotter.

3) Comes with his own firesuit.

4) He's a hunk-a, hunk-a burning gas?

5) Maybe he can get a champion's provisional for Michael Waltrip.

6) Can't beat the fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches at the PASS tailgate parties.

7) He can't fit in NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow, but he can squeeze into one of those bus cockpits for a schoolbus Figure-8 race.

8) Carries his own extra left-side weight with him.

9) Wanted to be Ben Rowe's substitute driver in the Richard Moody-owned No. 4 at the Oxford 250 last month.

10) Elvis says, "To finish 1st, one must first finish."

When's the reunion tour, Ben?

What's next?

Now that Wiscasset Raceway entered its new era with a 50-lap Pro Stock feature last weekend in front of a packed house, the facility moves forward under watchful eyes this week.

There were 18 Pro Stock teams present and accounted for on Saturday, with all but 1 taking the green flag in the feature. There will certainly not be that many there next time around.

Of those 17 teams in the main, 6 of them will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia this weekend for a 250-lap PASS North Series event. Of the 11 remaining teams, 2 are PASS Outlaw Late Model teams that aren't willing to commit to running weekly.

If only 9 Pro Stocks show up for another 50-lap feature this weekend, then Wiscasset is in the same single-digit category that shut the division down for the 1st time in 2004. And, one has to wonder, how many of those 800 or so people that filled the grandstands last weekend will be willing to come back to watch fewer cars than they can count on 2 hands?

Gear jammin': Pocono

Top 4 stories from the Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday...

1st gear -- Busch snaps winless drought: When Kurt Busch left his championship-winning team at Roush Fenway Racing at the end of 2005, he likely hoped he'd find greener pastures at Penske South. Instead, though, Busch had won only 1 race behind the wheel of the No. 2 Dodges entering the weekend. He snapped a 51-race winless drought with the victory Sunday, and in doing so, pushed himself ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the 12th and final spot in the Chase.

2nd gear -- Robby Gordon parked: After a fiasco of a Busch Series race in Montreal on Saturday, Robby Gordon wasn't allowed to participate in the Cup race Sunday. Of course, Gordon ignored repeated directives from NASCAR during the Busch event, including several black flags. There is something to be said for Gordon here, though -- it's interesting that NASCAR issues more severe penalties for a driver who dares challenge its autonomy than for Chase teams that deliberately bend the rules (see: Nos. 24, 48 and 8).

3rd gear -- Sorenson in the hunt, again: Anyone else notice that Reed Sorenson suddenly appears to have come of age? The Chip Ganassi driver has turned a corner over the last 5 events. He's qualified inside the top-10 for 3 of the last 5 races, and finished inside the top-12 on 2 occasions. Pit strategy handed him an outside shot at a win on Sunday, though he eventually was involved in a wreck that took him out of contention. Still, he rallied to stay on the lead lap and finish 28th. He also picked up a Busch win at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis.

4th gear -- 500 miles too much: 3 hours and 47 minutes is about 62 minutes too long for a race, and Pocono routinely puts on some long 500-milers. Cutting at least 1 of the 2 annual Cup stops back to 400 miles would make for more interesting racing and a little less monotony, plus it would make that 1 race that is 500 miles a little more "special." Not that 500-mile races carry the same cache they did back in, oh, 1955.

Drivers say it 'feels good' to be back

After the division's three-year hiatus, Johnny Clark was back in victory lane in a Pro Stock at Wiscasset Raceway on Saturday night.

The two-time PASS North Series champion won the 50-lap Pro Stock feature at the track, the first Pro Stock race at Wiscasset since the division was disbanded by then-owner Dave St. Clair midway through the 2004 season.

Read the complete story in today's
Kennebec Journal.


I know I'm late, but...

Most of you have probably already seen this, but for those of you who haven't -- here you go.

You can thank me later. You know, after you're done wiping the tears from your eyes from laughing so hard.

I'm going to go watch it again, just so I can laugh some more. When I'm done with that, I'm going back to this old favorite. Oh yeah, it was Jimmie Johnson.

Practice makes perfect for Weston

Following a familiar theme at Wiscasset Raceway, Nate Weston of Madison rolled into victory lane.

Joining the track's regular weekly competitors, Weston jumped in with a pack of outsiders and won the 25-lap Super Street feature on Saturday night. Weston, who sits third in the standings of his regular home on the PASS Sportsman tour, posted his eighth top-five finish in 10 starts this year.

Read the complete story in today's Kennebec Journal.