Elder stateman Rick Clifton still ready to rev up; entered at Nashville

TOLEDO, Ohio (March 18, 2017) -- Sixty-two-year-old Rick Clifton is among the early entrants for the Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. The race will mark Clifton's 31st career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start, and third consecutive at Nashville.

"I really like that track," said Clifton. "The year before last, I tried to take the wall down there...didn't succeed but I tried. I've probably been able to do as well there as anyplace. I kinda like the short tracks...they're suited to the way I drive better than most of them."

Clifton plans on doing his typical handful of races in 2017, driving for Andy Hillenburg's Fast Track Racing team. Clifton understands as well as anyone that he's in the twilight of his racing career, yet the thrill of the green flag still does it for the Circleville, Ohio driver.

"That's the fun thing about racing. When you're in that car, it's the only thing you ever think about...it's nice to have that. Whatever problems you may have outside that car, they're completely gone for an hour-and-a-half. Even after the race, it lasts a while."

Clifton also says he would have liked to have started his racing career much sooner.

"I would have loved to have done it back in my 30s and 40s, but I didn't have the money to do it. Life is kinda ass-backwards. When you're young, you have the energy and desire but you don't have the money to do all these things. When you're older, you may not feel like it anymore, but you've got the money. I wished this sport wasn't so expensive, but I still thoroughly enjoy it."

Despite Clifton's abbreviated ARCA schedule, he still keeps plenty busy back home.

"We sold the business, C&B Farm Supply in November of 2012. Running that company was full-time-and-a-half. Still busier than ever. We still farm about 2500 acres and still run a few trucks. I have a couple guys that drive for me...hauling fertilizer, grain and seed."

With life rushing by, Clifton felt like he had some catching up to do.

"Reason I sold the business is that I wanted to do a few things in life before I got too dad-gum old to do it. I probably won't race for too many more years. There's a lot of young guys coming up that are really good, but it's still a lot of fun, even for the old guys, and I still love it."

Clifton says he's got no issue with nerves once he climbs in the car.

"I don't get nervous. It's hard to explain, but when that green flag drops it's just such a thrill. But I really don't get nervous...there's no time for that. If you're too nervous, you probably shouldn't be in there.

"It's hard to express the pleasure I get from it. I'm not the best driver by no means and I try very hard to go around without tearing anyone up or tearing myself up...I just want to finish the race. That's always the goal."

Finishing races has become a  bit of a trademark for Clifton. In fact, it's a rare day when Clifton doesn't finish. Last year, he ran four races with finishes of 15th at Kentucky, 18th on the New Jersey road course, 19th at Lucas Oil Raceway and 22nd at Nashville. He was running at the end of each race. Mission accomplished.

Clifton's career-best ARCA finish is 13th at Michigan Int'l Speedway in 2015. He also finished 14th at Toledo Speedway in 2015 and 14th at Michigan in 2013. His career-first ARCA start was at Michigan in 2010.

This year's Music City 200 will also include the North-South Shootout with the Southern Super Series and the ARCA CRA Super Series combo race. Last year, CRA got added to the Super Late Model mix to create the North-South shootout. The field saw a jump to 35 cars featuring some of the best short track racers in the country, with Donnie Wilson winning the top prize over Steven Wallace. 

Super Late Models have a practice session Friday night, April 7 from 4-7 p.m. Then on Saturday, April 8, North-South Shootout practice will begin at 12 noon, with North-South Shootout qualifying at 3. General Tire Pole Qualifying for the ARCA Racing Series is at 4:15, with racing action following at 5:45 with the North-South Shootout presented by Team Construction 100. Race fans will be treated to the ARCA Racing Series Music City 200 grand finale at 8. The Music City 200 will be aired on MAVTV.

Discounted presale tickets for the event are available for $25, a $5 discount off raceday ticket prices. They are available by calling the event promoters Track Enterprises at 615-470-5214 or 217-764-3200.

Don Radebaugh