The Clark-Chapman rifts
This was supposed to be the year in which Cassius Clark and his team ended the Ben Rowe-Johnny Clark stranglehold on the PASS North Series championship. Fresh off a 2006 in which Clark drove his Ed Chapman-owned car to more victories than anyone else, the team was by and large the pre-season favorite.
But before the engines even fired for the first practice session of 2007, Clark's team hit hard times. Clark and Chapman split after disagreements on the direction the team was taking. They patched things up in time for the rain-delayed season-opening event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, but it was just a sign of things to come.
Before the season was at the midpoint, they formidable pairing had split for a second time. Again, they patched things up in time to keep going and finish out the year.
Unfortunately, the rift only served to underline the entire slate of racing for the No. 8 team. Disqualifications following victories at Speedway 95 and Wiscasset Raceway and repeated engine troubles througout the year were merely overshadowed by what was happening off the track.
One of the region's best teams -- and one that long represented what a limited budget and hard work could accomplish in a sport where money means more and more to success -- was damaged by the discord. What's more troubling is that these types of wounds don't generally heal within race teams.
One little thing becomes another, and then becomes yet another, until no one is talking, even while working under the same roof on the same car during the week.
The team is good enough to contend for its first PASS North championship in 2008, but only if what happened in 2007 doesn't continue to follow the driver and owner.