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.June 22, 2009 8:38 pm UTC No Comments
Kasey Kahne wasn’t much of a road racer until winning the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday; taking the King of Beers and the King of NASCAR to victory lane.
Other than sitting on the pole in 2008, Kahne had done little when faced with going left and right to think that he would be able to take Richard Petty Motorsports back to victory lane. A journey that lasted ten years since John Andretti last won for The King. Andretti’s win came during the Petty Enterprises years; before mergers and re-locations made the once dominant team a mere shadow of itself.
There is very little of the old Petty Enterprises remaining in the new team owned by George Gillett. The win comes within days of Gillett announcing that he has sold his interest in the Montreal Canadians hockey team. Rumors have been circulating since the race in Michigan that RPM may be within weeks of a huge downsizing.
Could Kasey Kahne soon be the only driver left from the four that started the season? Elliott Sadler, AJ Allmendinger and Reed Sorenson could all be without a ride and Kahne could be in an un-supported Toyota soon. Petty let the cat out of the bag before the race at Michigan that Chrysler had not been sending checks and the money to run four teams was running thin.
That brings us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
With all the recent and pending changes at Richard Petty Motorsports again; what does Kasey Kahne’s win do for the team?
Let us know what you think and we could use your comments on this week’s ON PIT ROW radio show. Listen live every Tuesday from 5-7pm ET here. Or call the show at 800-645-2946 and if your call is voted the Shell Nitrogen Enriched Call Of the Day you will win a Kevin Harvick bobble head.
photo credit: Robert LaBerge/Getty Images for NASCAR
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.January 26, 2009 9:33 pm UTC 2 Comments
Things are starting to come together for all the teams trying to make the Daytona 500.
The big four have been set for a while. Rick Hendrick Motorsports has his four cars all set with Mark Martin coming on board to run the full season. Jack Roush has had his five teams ready since getting the UPS sponsorship lined up at the end of the 2008 season. Richard Childress Racing has expanded his group to include a fourth car with Clint Bowyer moving over from the #07 to the new #33 car with General Mills sponsorship. Joe Gibbs Racing has the kiddie corp of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and ROTY contender Joey Logano ready to hit the track.
After those four owners has been where all the craziness of the off season has revolved. It has been well documented the strife a mergers that have surrounded Chip Ganassi, Dale Earnhardt, Inc, Gillet-Evernham and Petty Enterprises. For better or worse success or failure will follow the mergered teams depending on their ability to adapt to their new surroundings, management teams and driving team mates.
With the loss of teams like Bill Davis Racing and part time seasons from Furnature Row and The Wood Brothers, the bottom feeders saw much of the change revolve around them. There has been an odd resurgence of single car–privateer teams spearheaded by Tommy Baldwin‘s new entry in the Sprint Cup. While many if not most of these new teams may not even make it past Daytona; it would seem to make the fields easier for the big boys to become bigger.
Less competition outside the top four teams could make it easier for a first time winner in both the 500 and the championship. Which leads us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
Will 2009 be the magical season that Mark Martin wins the Daytona 500 and/or the Sprint Cup championship?
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
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.January 11, 2009 11:16 pm UTC 4 Comments
What in the world is going on at Gillett Evernham/Petty Enterprises?
Sadler’s out–Sadler’s in. Allmendinger will replace Sadler in the #19–or he’ll run a partial in the #10. Luckily Dinger hasn’t signed a contract with GEM/P and he is still free to sign to drive someplace that may have a clue. It certainly doesn’t look like the boys at GEM/P do. Rumors abound that Sadler kept his job because the sponsors that have signed on to finance the #19 wanted him in the seat.
If that is what happened, why the hat dance in the first place? Shouldn’t any discussion of who was going to drive that car be so far under wraps that no one outside of George Gillett and Ray Evernham had a clue?
It would see that that is the problem–no one at that organization has a clue. Evernham seems to be the smartest of the bunch. He has been setting himself up for an exit for some time. However it doesn’t seem that Ray has left the company in very good hands. The decisions coming from the once front liner for Dodge are circumspect at best.
When Evernham was given the reigns to bring Dodge back to NASCAR, I was excited at the prospect. When Bill Elliott was named as the lead driver; as a Ford fan, I was devastated, but I still rooted for him and the Dodge team. When Elliott “retired” and Kasey Kahne took over the #9 ride; I still followed with interest the success of that car and the team. But with the bad decisions over the past three seasons you have to wonder if the decision to bring in a struggling Petty Enterprises is just another bad decision; much like the indecision to let Sadler go and then not.
Which leads us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
If you were a sponsor of one of the GEM/Petty cars; would you be worried about the companies ability to make proper decisions, given the Elliott Sadler mess?
Let us know what you think and we may use your thoughts on this weeks ON PIT ROW radio show. Listen live Tuesdays from 5-7pm ET.
Photo Credit: Icon Sports Media
by Matt Mercer, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I'm the former blogger of The Catfish Show NASCAR Blog and a contributor to On Pit Row. Follow me on Twitter: @mattmercerJanuary 1, 2009 8:57 pm UTC 3 Comments
Happy New Year to everyone, I realize it’s been a while since my last post here. I’ve been taking some time to work on, you know, trying to graduate college in a reasonable amount of time while the news coming from the NASCAR world has some feeling rather down heading into 2009. I, however, remain excited for the ’09 season.
The doom and gloom is not without reason. Yes, the sport will not have as many teams, sponsors, and exposure in the upcoming season. Recent news includes the sale of Bill Davis Racing to new owners and the most-reported and overblown merger of the off-season, the sale of Petty Enterprises to Gillett Evernham Racing. The announcement that made my off-season was AJ Allmendinger’s move to the #19 and in the process kicking Elliott “nice guy, bad driver” Sadler out. You have to look around a bit to find the good news, but it’s there. The good news relates to the long-term aspect of the sport and especially the competitive aspect. The good teams are getting better – the move of Pierre Kuettel back to car chief of the #99 and Carl Edwards, for example.
The 2009 season will be one of transition. I believe the economics of the sport will lend itself to future growth because the bad teams are either merging, going out of business, or being sold to new ownership. NASCAR doesn’t need fixing. This sport can and will fix itself.
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.December 31, 2008 10:57 pm UTC 2 Comments
Happy New Year folks, and it’s time for another installment of How To Fix NASCAR. Having already trimmed schedules and fixed NASCAR’s top tier development series, it’s time to ensure that the top levels of American motorsport move away from the elitism of Formula One, by ironically implementing something that that series has had in place for years: a hard cap of three cars per team (per series, seeing as NASCAR has multiple levels and F1 has… well… one).
The issue with a team cap lies in owners’ willingness to undo some of the expansion they have done over the past few years, expansion that many of them (like Jack Roush) can surely sustain. However, the sport is heading more and more in an elitist direction, where the top four or five teams are lightyears ahead of everybody else (like McLaren and Ferrari in F1). That only hurts the sport in the end, by stealing sponsors away from the have-nots: either they’ll sign for fewer races and less money with the haves, or put their money elsewhere.
Roush is already dealing with the elimination of his fifth car, probably Jamie McMurray‘s No. 26, by the end of 2009. However, almost all of the other major players in the sport (Hendrick, Childress, Gillett after the merger with Petty, EGR) will still have four cars as well. Joe Gibbs has three, Roger Penske has three, and even Doug Yates is planning on three cars for next season. That’s a total of 30 cars among eight teams. That gives the newcomer a snowball’s chance in hell at signing a good driver, crew, or sponsor.
To limit teams to two cars would be a disaster, and probably turn out just like F1, with Hendrick like the Ferrari team and Roush akin to McLaren. The superteams would be able to shift five cars’ worth of resources and money to the remaining two teams, and we’d see races where only four cars had a reasonable shot at winning. But to limit teams to three cars would provide a fair balance: sure, the rich would shift their incredible resources to make their few teams stronger, but the drivers and crewmembers they released would go to smaller teams and, in turn, make them more competitive.
Let’s use Roush as an example, and assume that they would keep David Ragan, Greg Biffle, and Carl Edwards. McMurray has been rumored to go to Yates in 2010 for a while anyway, but assumedly they would also send over Matt Kenseth in this situation. A Yates team with Kenseth, McMurray, and the steadily improving Paul Menard would have a much better shot at reclaiming the team’s past glory than Menard, Travis Kvapil, and David Gilliland. And with three fully sponsored cars, Roush could concentrate on building up the other struggling Ford team, the Wood Brothers‘ No. 21.
How about the other superpower of the sport, Hendrick Motorsports? Sure, you could say they wouldn’t suffer much, if only Mark Martin ended up leaving the team after 2009. But some other team could certainly use his leadership and skill, and you know he wouldn’t be unemployed for long. Neither would crew chief Alan Gustafson. I’m thinking they’d end up at Stewart Haas, personally – it’s already going to become Hendrick 2.
At RCR, I suppose getting rid of Casey Mears wouldn’t provide too much help to a smaller team, but at least it’d potentially reunite Clint Bowyer with Jack Daniel’s. (I’m sorry, General Mills, but I don’t think anyone sees Clint as a cereal guy.) The only question is, would Mears be any more than damaged goods? Assuming this were to happen, it would be his sixth team in seven years (Ganassi’s No. 41 in ’05, the No. 42 in ’06, Hendrick’s No. 25 in ’07, the No. 5 in ’08, RCR’s No. 07 in ’09 and ’10…). I suppose that at least it proves he’s a commodity, but the guy already has more firesuits in his closet than some teams have won races.
While this wouldn’t have much of an effect on the Camping World Truck Series, it would limit Nationwide Series owners to only running one car for the owners’ championship (see the last installment). Because running a car for the owners’ title would require a minimum of one unshared car to go alongside it, and no less, the three-car teams would have to run two cars for the drivers’ championship, opening up even more spots for development drivers to hone their skills.
So on and so forth down the line, very good (but not spectacular) drivers would be cut from the sport’s most prominent teams, landing on their feet with second-tier teams with much less talent behind the wheel. Those guys would then get bumped down to the third-tier teams, and so on and so forth. Not only would the guys who really don’t deserve their rides disappear, the driving talent, skilled crewmen, and the sponsors would disperse to level out the playing field.
Before anyone says anything: We all know that the only reason the sponsors all flock to the superteams is because current NASCAR rules don’t really limit where they can go. Roush can just create another team in Nationwide or CWTS if a new sponsor wants to join his operation, or sign them for a handful of races with Edwards or Kenseth. Under this system, those spots would vanish pretty quickly. Since many of the companies who want to get involved in racing do so because they feel that NASCAR fans are an important target market, those sponsors will stay in the sport. They’ll just find other teams to work with.
Of course, some of you are still probably asking, “How does this change anything if the top drivers would just go to their old teams’ satellite operations?” By adding a truckload of extra talent and sponsorship dollars to these satellite teams, they find themselves in a situation where they may no longer be so far behind their providers. With a little luck and some decent results, these teams will have the resources to break off and race on their own again.
That’s all for this installment. I’m going to go watch the New Year’s Eve TV specials. See you in two weeks!