NASCAR’s Clements to work with sports psychologist

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A plan is in place for suspended NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements to return to the track.

On Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell revealed that Clements must work with respected sports psychologist Dr. Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

”Our go-forward plan with Jeremy is to quickly engage Dr. Richard Lapchick to work with Jeremy as soon as possible and get Jeremy back in the race car as soon as possible and as soon as we deem fit,” O’Donnell said to the media.

Clements was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday for making what O’Donnell called “an insensitive and intolerable remark” before the NNS season opener on Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway. According to Clements himself, he made the comment while escorting a NASCAR employee and a reporter for MTV toward the transporter of driver Johanna Long.

That particular reporter was Marty Beckerman, an associate editor for MTV’s “Guy Code” blog that was at Daytona to do, in his words, “a fish out of water story.”

“[Clements] walked us toward where she was, and on the way over, I explained to him that Guy Code is rules for guys, how you treat your friends, how you treat your ladies, things like that,” Beckerman told MTV News. “I was there to do a humor piece, so I asked him what would be Guy Code for race car drivers, and he blurted out [a phrase that used the n-word].”

Clements apologized for his remarks on Facebook shortly after NASCAR made the decision to suspend him.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”