NASCAR ROUNDUP News and notes
Gordon not dismayed: Robby Gordon took another hit in his rocky first season as an owner-driver, and he didn't blink. Only moments after he had qualified second for the Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen at Watkins Glen International, a rain shower forced cancellation of qualifying with 37 of 46 drivers having made their attempts. That sent Gordon all the way back to 39th on the starting grid, but at least he was in the show and that's all that mattered. "At Sonoma we went from dead last, a lap down, to 11th in 20 laps," said Gordon, who wound up a season-best 16th in NASCAR's other road race in June. "I just have to be smart getting through traffic. It'll be a good race, don't worry. I promise, we will close the gap." Tony Stewart won the pole and Jeff Gordon was third before the rains washed away qualifying.
Marlin's struggle: Sterling Marlin decided to skip today's Nextel Cup race to be with his ailing father, 73-year-old Coo Coo Marlin, who remained hospitalized in serious condition with lung cancer. Sterling Marlin and his wife, Paula, returned home to Tennessee from Watkins Glen when informed that the elder Marlin's condition had worsened. The family has requested privacy during this period. Coo Coo Marlin was the first Middle Tennessee racer to rise to national prominence, spending 14 seasons on the Grand National (now Nextel Cup) circuit. He never won a points race but was widely respected as a hard-nosed, determined racer. He also was a farmer and cattleman before retiring. David Stremme, with help from Scott Pruett, practiced Sterling Marlin's No. 40 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing on Friday at Watkins Glen. Although Stremme will replace Marlin in the car next year, Pruett, a road race expert, will drive it Sunday from the 25th spot.
Earnhardt's bonus: Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. is mired in 19th place in the Nextel Cup standings and his teammate Michael Waltrip sits 16th, the two were flipflopped on the starting grid for today's race after qualifying.