by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.July 4, 2010 9:25 am UTC No Comments
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas had the field covered in the DP Division.
Pruett took the lead with one hour remaining and led all but one of the remaining laps in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW powered Riley started by Rojas. Pruett beat Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Ryan Dalziel to the checkered flag by 24.304 seconds, extending his DP-leading total to 28 victories; it was the 29th triumph for the Ganassi team coming in race number one hundred for the class.
“It’s great for our team to win the 100th DP race – that’s incredible,” Pruett said. “That says a lot for GRAND-AM for what they’ve achieved and where it’s going. It’s a special mark for our team. Today we didn’t have the fastest race car, but we raced smart and we raced clean and we did what we had to do. Good things happen to good people.”
The victory came only a few days after a penalty resulting from post-race inspection at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course cost the team 25 points, cutting their lead to seven points in the battle for the DP championship title. Pruett and Rojas now lead by only 13 points.
In the GT class, Andy Lally passed Joey Hand with nine laps to go to win his third race of the season, with RJ Valentine in the No. 66 TRG Porsche. Hand battled Lally all the way to the end of the race looking for a way around but was unable to make a final charge to the lead.
photo credit: ON PIT ROW/JAB
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowApril 10, 2009 7:36 am UTC 3 Comments
Ganassi-DEI Racing with Felix Sabates is shutting down the once important no. 8 team. The poor economy is being roundly blamed. Three years of mis-management, poor performance on the track and, well, just a bunch of boneheaded business moves apparently are a coincidence.
Bram at Backstretch Motorsports has a must read post on the economy, politics and auto racing. And Richard Petty’s announced entry in the Indy 500 as an owner has its own political implications. At least in my little mind. And that is my Tight in Turn 2 topic this week.
The King is taking John Andretti – and a Petty Blue no. 43 car – to the Indy 500 this year. Is the King slapping NASCAR in the face?
Charlie: I was happy to hear of the plan. Still am. But I don’t think that the Family France was pleased. The Petty brand – and that special blue color and iconic number – is part of the fabric of NASCAR. And make no mistake, Tony George’s Indy Racing League is still the enemy to NASCAR.
Bill France Jr helped support the IRL’s effort get off the ground, but that support had more to do with assisting George as he tore apart the IRL and Champ Car’s predecessor CART. Championship Auto Racing Teams was a serious competitor of NASCAR in the 70s and 80s. Tony George destroyed it and Bill France Jr greased the slope that reduced the Indy 500 to second fiddle behind the Daytona 500.
Petty’s Indy entry won’t raise open wheel racing to its former status. But the France family want their own sports car league - Grand Am – to be number two to stockers, not Indy Cars. And the King’s move wasn’t a “team player” move.
Bruce: Beside not being a team player move, I’m just not sure how Petty can successfully field an Indy car when his own shop had to bring in outside support to keep his NASCAR franchise going. A one shot deal? Sure. But what if Andretti has a really good day? Then what?
Aside from that, I’d almost seem to think there might be something going on in the background that no one has caught wind of yet with Petty and France. Is this that first public step out, or is it just a one time deal to help John Andretti get some wheel and TV time.
Considering we haven’t heard anything of a negative nature, I’d lean towards the latter option first. A fellow NASCAR owner helping out a NASCAR driver, in any way he can.
That’s the public image the Petty legacy has given us and I hope that I am right. Otherwise, this could get interesting, indeed.
That’s what we think. What do you think? Leave us a comment.
Last weekend the rule was passed down, no, reinforced that radio traffic will remain public domain between teams. Do teams need some privacy?
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowJanuary 29, 2009 4:10 pm UTC No Comments
NASCAR’s 2009 Sprint Cup Series is revving up all the usual suspects picked by someone to grab the France Family jewels. But who is your version of the Phoenix – the legendary bird that rises from the ashes?
Bram that sage Scottish Racer of Backstretch Motorsports acclaim asked just that over at the BenchRacers forum . Who has the chance to be most improved? Here’s a bit of Bram’s answer to his own question…
“no one stands a better chance at brass-covered tin-ring than Casey Mears.. he’s fully funded and from all outward signs, has a much stronger support system behind him at the Welcome, NC shops as opposed to the ‘and we must mention…’ status he got at Hendrick.. and this is his last chance…”
Is this Casey Mears’ last chance in Cup? It’s hard to argue that logic. Mears has had what seemed at the time, to be very good rides. The second car at Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing and then the No 5 car at Hendrick Motorsports. But, the results of the Ganassi team show that they have been annually overrated and Hendrick has never gotten the fourth car up to the level of the No 24 or 48.
Mears seems the perfect fit for Richard Childress Racing. He reminds me of Jeff Burton, in fact. I’ve had to opportunity to interview Mears and it would be tough to come away from that experience with anything but hope for his success.
It would seem that all is in place for Casey to have that “Most Improved Driver” kind of season. The caveat is that RCR has never run four cars for a full season. It can be argued that only Jack Roush has done so successfully. I like Casey’s chances though.
Photo credit: BethAnne Heisler - ON PIT ROW
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowJanuary 17, 2009 11:33 am UTC No Comments
After a couple week break for the holidays, the intrepid Ms Mindy returns for a new season of the Monday Morning Crew Chief.
With the NASCAR world still stuck on the silly season merry-go-round, there is speculation still on who will fill the seats at Ganassi Earnhardt Racing There’s another brand new entry in the Sprint Cup Series and Lee Spencer gets credit for the scoop on Bobby Labonte’s ride at Hall of Fame , powered by Yates, Racing.
Watch it here! It’s the Monday Morning Crew Chief.
by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.November 11, 2008 12:14 am UTC No Comments
NASCAR wants to talk about Jimmy Johnson and and his third straight championship.
Unfortunately much of the talk of the fans and participants revolves around the state of the series. Merger talks have been running rampant for months. Many of the small to medium sized teams are looking for partners to help economize and give themn the adavantages that the mega-teams enjoy.
The common denominator in most of these talks is the lack of sponsorship for all the cars and drivers involved. The lists of rumored pairings is too long to list; but many have revolved around Chip Ganassi, Bill Davis, Petty Enterprises, DEI and Gillett-Evernham. Looking at these individual teams they are all looking at two or three car teams with less than fifty percent sponsorship deals.
It’s no wonder that “the garage” is speaking of less than full fields and start and park tactics for 2009. Its been over half a decade since the start and park shenanigans were prevalent in NASCAR. I remember NASCAR offering incentives for teams to make the trek to Pheonix or California to fill the filds. Spomehow many of these fillers always had mysterious debilitating maladies that caused them to run less than a handful of laps. Those days may not be too far off once again.
And that leads us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
How much should NASCAR help financially strapped teams?
Let us know what you think and we could use your comment on this weeks show. Or give us a call at 1-877-502-8255 during the live broadcast from 5-7pm ET on Tuesday and you could become “The Shell gunk free call of the day” and receive a Kevin Harvick bobblehead. Listen live at onpitrow.com
photo credit: Icon sports Media
by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.October 22, 2008 6:55 pm UTC No Comments
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Atlanta, Georgia this weekend for the seventh round of its ten-race playoffs. Atlanta is always a crucial stop on the NASCAR schedule, not only because it’s the home track for drivers like Bill Elliott and David Ragan, but because a lot of sponsorship dollars come from the city. Among the current major NASCAR sponsors to call the city home are AT&T, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, and UPS.
Money may perhaps be the biggest concern in NASCAR nowadays, with many teams struggling to find sponsorship in a failing economy. Longtime sponsors like Texaco/Havoline and AAA have pulled back all motorsports sponsorship for next season, affecting multiple teams around the garage area. Even the manufacturers are struggling – Ford higher-ups admitted to merger talks at one point with General Motors, and Chrysler may merge with GM by the end of the year.
Recently, team merger rumors have been spreading all over the garage. While the sport’s powerhouses – Roush Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and the like – have been basically immune to these rumors, some of the less prominent teams in the garage area have been subject to this speculation. While plenty of it has been nothing more than whimsy, as much of the silly season is, some of the rumors may inevitably come true.
This week’s Quick Hits are the top five merger rumors that have been floating around the garage area:
5. Yates Racing and Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 26 team: Granted, this one wouldn’t happen until RFR has to cut down to four teams for 2010. However, it would expand Yates to four cars, putting it on par with RFR, Hendrick, and Richard Childress Racing.
Jamie McMurray would be the likely castoff from the Roush stable, as the No. 26 is regularly the team’s lowest-ranking car. Crown Royal is reportedly solidly behind McMurray, so that sponsorship would probably follow him over. Assuming nothing changes from 2009, he would join Paul Menard, Travis Kvapil, and David Gilliland.
This one’s been in the works for a long time, making it a bit more likely than any of the following.
4. Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Bill Davis Racing: Reports state that GEM majority owner George Gillett wants to move his team to Toyota and expand to four cars. Buying a current top 35 team with a strong Truck Series program in BDR would only add to the team’s resources and sponsorship.
Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, and Reed Sorenson are already under contract for next season in Sprint Cup. Counting BDR’s truck drivers, the options for the team’s fourth car would probably be A.J. Allmendinger, Chase Miller, Michael Annett, and Johnny Benson. It’s likely that, given the No. 22’s unsponsored state, they would shut down at least one Truck team and GEM’s Nationwide team, and shift sponsorship dollars to that car.
If Ray Evernham sells his minority interest in the team, as has been suggested recently, this one has a legitimate shot of happening. Evernham remaining part of the team, however, could be a deal breaker. He has a strong relationship with Dodge, and given BDR’s issues with the manufacturer in the past and Dodge’s lack of Truck Series support, that could cause obstacles in the deal.
3. Chip Ganassi Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing: This rumor first appeared in late July. Given CGR’s loss of Texaco Havoline for 2009, and MWR’s loss of UPS for next year as well, it made plenty of sense at the time.
Under the terms of the deal, the combined entity would race Toyotas. Juan Montoya, Michael Waltrip, and David Reutimann would all take their contracts for next season to the new team. J.J. Yeley and Allmendinger would be the top choices for the fourth car, the No. 41, which currently carries the Target sponsorship. Another option would be to cut down to three teams and split Target between Montoya and Reutimann.
Given MWR’s recent alignment with JTG Daugherty Racing and addition of a No. 47 car for Marcos Ambrose, this deal couldn’t happen unless the No. 41 was eliminated altogether.
2. Chip Ganassi Racing and Petty Enterprises: This is one of the more recent rumors, only appearing in late September. Ganassi and Petty would unite to produce a flagship team for Dodge, which would take over lead status with the manufacturer if GEM defects to Toyota.
Montoya would retain his No. 42 with Wrigley’s sponsorship. Chad McCumbee would take over the No. 45 car, which would be renumbered 44, and keep most of that team’s current sponsorship. Kyle Petty and Bryan Clauson would probably each run a limited schedule in a part-time No. 45 car, with Petty carrying Wells Fargo sponsorship. Finally, Target would move over to the No. 43 and partner with Bobby Labonte.
Based on their longtime relationships with Dodge, this one would make some sense. It would keep Montoya in a Dodge, and faced with the potential loss of Kahne, the manufacturer needs all the firepower it can get. It would also allow Petty to remain with his family’s team for a part-time schedule, and provide a team with which Clauson could run a limited schedule in anticipation of moving up full-time eventually.
On a more personal note, however, who else thinks that Target red would mix poorly with Petty blue?
1. Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Petty Enterprises: Given the much-maligned status of both of these teams right now, this rumor was inevitable. The teams have a combined six drivers – Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Regan Smith, Labonte, McCumbee, and Petty – and two sponsors – Bass Pro Shops and Wells Fargo – for next season. The Wells Fargo sponsorship is tied to Petty alone, however, leaving his family team in limbo.
Under this deal, it’s unlikely Petty and his personal sponsorship would even factor in. DEI is obligated to Truex and Almirola for next year, and PE has already signed Labonte through 2012. McCumbee is basically a shoo-in for their second car anyway. Despite a near-miss at Talladega and a possible Rookie of the Year Award, Smith would be the other odd man out.
PE general manager Robbie Loomis denies that this deal is even likely, citing the team’s discussions with multiple other organizations. It doesn’t seem likely to merge two organizations of such different makeup anyway. Loomis said that one of the key factors in a potential merger is the growth of the Petty brand name, according to Mike Mulhern of the Winston-Salem Journal.
But it would certainly shake up the sport in more ways than one. For two teams once held in such high regard to plummet this low is unprecedented. Obviously, Petty-Earnhardt merchandise would make a lot of extra coin for the teams, but given the nature of the collectible market as of late, the gimmick would probably go way too far. You’d probably see the superteam asking Robby Gordon and Roger Penske for the rights to the numbers 7 and 77, to play off of Richard’s and Dale’s seven championships apiece.
Even thinking about that promo makes me sick.
It’s sad that the sport has plummeted to this level. It’s sad that our economic issues have affected so many – from teams to sponsors to the fans themselves – in such a negative way. Worst of all, however, it’s sad that we may see at least one of the names of the aforementioned organizations be wiped from the history books of the future – especially if that team has been around since the dawn of NASCAR.
Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson (Sprint Cup) and Benson (Truck Series) for their wins at Martinsville.