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.September 1, 2009 7:06 am UTC No Comments
NASCAR puts the final Cup SeriErikes off weekend behind themselves as the final push to make the playoffs begins.
But what have we seen this week? Kevin Harvick will remain at Richard Childress Racing for 2010 and Bobby Labonte will be out of the #96 Hall of Fame Racingride for seven of the final twelve races. Labonte was a guest ON PIT ROW last week and made no mention of the move. The sad state of the sport is that if there is no money to race; you don’t go racing. In the case of HOF Racing, their sponsor had only committed to the final five of twelve events and were not willing to fund the other seven races.
In steps Erik Darnell of Roush-Fenway Racing, who fields the cars for Yates Racing who partners with HOF, and brings sponsorship money with him. So while the number may be the same for those seven races, the car will not be a HOF Racing entry at all. In essence HOF Racing is loaning its number to Roush-Fenway to give one of its rookies and one of Ford Racing’s prospects some seat time.
This week’s ON PIT ROW will include an interview with Harvick, who had been rumored to be looking for a new ride. Harvick has made no excuses for the poor performance of his race team and the entire RCR effort. With the way things are in NASCAR today, Harvick may well have decided that knowing what he was dealing with was far less scary than entering a new and possibly worse situation.
This leads us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
If a driver is out of the Chase and moving to a new team the following year; should he be allowed to move in the current season?
Let us know what you think and we could use your response on this week’s radio show. Listen live to ON PIT ROW every Tuesday from 5-7pm ET. Call the show with your opinion and you could win a Kevin Harvick bobblehead if your call is deemed The Shell Nitrogen Enriched Call of the Day.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
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 11, 2009 11:27 am UTC 1 Comment
Silly Season has started in earnest. Fox Sports’ Lee Spencer is reporting that Robert Yates Racing may be looking to blow up their lineup in 2010 because of lack of performance from Bobby Labonte and cash cow Paul Menard.
Roger Penske may be looking to shop the seat in the #12 for the second year. David Stremme has not taken to the new car as quickly as hoped after sitting out the 2008 Cup season. The hottest property in the 2010 free agent market is Brad Keselowski and he is being looked at to fill that seat.
The Kez has been included in talk of pretty much every open seat for next year; the anticipated fourth cars at Joe Gibbs Racing or third at Stewart-Haas, a move to cup by Junior Motorsports or Keven Harvick, Inc or even replacing Junior at Hendrick.
While no one knows for sure where he will end up yet, I may as well throw my personal hope into the mix. After years of struggling to make assorted drivers work on a limited budget with 1970′s thought processes one team has taken a step back to try and re-capture it’s former glory days. While some teams have resorted to start and park strategies to get their teams trough these tough times, The Wood Brothers took to a limited schedule to try and make things work.
Bill Elliott has held down the seat on again and off again until the right deal can happen. 2010 is the year that the once proud team that saw David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and others win races in droves, needs to grab the next hot, can’t miss driver since Sliced Bread. Keselowski is young, hungry and has proven himself a winner. Eddie Wood has made hard decisions over the past year. Adding Keselowski for the entire season could be the piece to the puzzle that brings the Wood Brothers back to the front.
Sponsorship is the key; getting it and getting enough of it to be competitive. The other hard decision to be made may not be so easy and that would be to give up the teams autonomy. An alliance with Roush-Fenway/Yates as a satellite team could help solve technical and financial challenges.
One car from Roush-Fenway will be spun off to Yates because of NASCAR’s four team rule. Common speculation has had either Jamie McMurrey or David Ragan moving to Yates as a third team. But, instead of sending a lower performing team, send Greg Biffle to become the cornerstone of that operation. Proven winner Travis Kvapil is available to take over the #96 ride if Ask.com can be convinced to stay on board or other sponsorship can be found.
The Wood Brothers with help from R-F/Y and Keselowski at the wheel could be a combination that returns the once proud team back to respectability and beyond.
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 @onpitrowMarch 5, 2009 9:07 am UTC 4 Comments
It’s been awhile for Bobby Labonte. I know, he finished 5th in the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday. That was great. But not since, maybe 2003 has the soft spoken ex-champ been dominant anywhere.
That year he led 238 total laps in two Sprint Cup Series races at the track he used to pretty much own. When the Cup Series went to Atlanta Super Speedway, Bobby was an almost automatic pick.
Labonte finished 1st and 5th in the 2003 Atlanta races. He hasn’t seen the top ten at AMS since. But I played a hunch in this week’s One and Done NASCAR fantasy game. I took the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion to win. I’m hoping those Doug Yates motors hold together for 500 miles. If they do, I like my chances.
Bobby and sponsor Ask.com are supporting the cause of safe Internet use for kids. Here’s what they have going for this weekend in Atlanta.
Before getting into the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion for his qualifying laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday, March 6, driver Bobby Labonte will give a deserving fifth grader a ride to school and present Cotton Indian Elementary, in Stockbridge, Ga., a computer donation on behalf of Ask.com and the Safe Search Schools program. The program – a partnership between Ask.com, Web Wise Kids and NASCAR – launched in the Atlanta-area last month to promote Internet safety education and awareness. Local Atlanta teachers and students participated in the program by visiting safesearchschools.com, conducting Internet safety lessons and submitting their own ideas for how to be safe online. Cotton Indian Elementary was selected from nearly 200 entries by a Blue Ribbon Panel, comprised of Jim Safka, CEO of Ask.com; Mike Helton, president of NASCAR; Judi Westberg Warren, president of Web Wise Kids and Bobby Labonte, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Ask.com will continue to raise awareness about the importance of Internet safety education throughout the season by taking the program to other areas.
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.February 27, 2009 12:10 pm UTC No Comments
Once the guaranteed entrants finish jockeying for pit selection, real qualifying begins.
Fifty-one cars are on the entry list for the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and fifteen of them have to literally fight their way into the race and can make for the best drama of the weekend.
Predictions were that once NASCAR left the season opener at Daytona the number of cars trying to make the race could fall below the forty-three that constitutes a full Sprint Cup field. The general consensus that the “under funded” teams would not follow the circus west has not held true. Several of these teams including Tommy Baldwin‘s and Jeremy Mayfield‘s said all along that they had every intention of racing the entire season.
Mayfield picked up a sponsor and co-owner in the All-Sport brand of thirst quencher. Baldwin has been sponsored by Red Bank Outfitters in the first three events and have added the third race at Vegas as well. The Yates Racing no. 28 driven by Travis Kvapil had Golden Corral Restaurants on the car at Daytona and they will be back on the car for at least three more races starting in Sin City.
So with the entry lists bigger than expected by NASCAR and many experts; does that go against the business model projections that these start up teams anticipated? Baldwin told ON PIT ROW that the primary reason he felt they could make a go of it in the Cup Series was because there was no testing in the off season and the size of the fields trying to qualify would be smaller.
There are sixteen teams in Vegas looking to fill eight spots. One of those spots will go to Tony Stewart because of his guaranteed provisional. Qualifying is set for 3:30pm local time (pacific), but the real excitement won’t start until the go or go home cars hit the track at approximately 5:00pm. That is when the true knock out qualifying starts as fifteen cars vie for seven spots. That type of knock out qualifying is what made “Bump Day” at Indy in May so exciting and what has the potential for being the best part of the show at each race track.
Just imagine if instead of thirteen drivers having to qualify in; twenty-eight needed to fight for a spot. Changing the Top 35 to the Top 20 would give NASCAR their certified stars in the race and make the rest of the field fight for the privilege to race on Sunday. NASCAR will never abandon the Top 35 rule; we can only hope that they amend it.
Qualifying is an important piece of the NASCAR experience; both at the track and to the television viewer. Therefore, every effort must be made to qualify at least the Cup cars every week. It is fine to schedule qualifying on Friday, but NASCAR has to have a Plan B,C and D ready in case of rain. Qualifying CANNOT be rained out. If it takes until Sunday morning to get cars qualified, then that is what has to be done. It is too important to the Tommy Baldwins, Joe Nemechecks, Jeremy Mayfields, James Finchs, Bob Germains and Bob Jenkins of the world to not make every attempt to get it in. Scrapping qualifying is no longer a luxury that NASCAR can afford; team’s ultimate existence is at stake.
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 @onpitrowFebruary 6, 2009 1:42 pm UTC 2 Comments
As the Daytona 500 opener creeps closer and closer more and more sponsors are emulating groundhogs – checking to see if the economy is still too chilly to back an available Cup team. Mindy Monday found a couple that disagreed with the Pennsylvania woodchuck, and joined the party.
She also labeled a pair of Sprint Cup rookie contenders with new nicknames. I like it.
So watch the Monday Morning Crew Chief here. And then go register to play the simplest fantasy NASCAR game around. It’s NASCAR for dummies – to accomidate a certain radio co-host – One and Done NASCAR fantasy racing from OnPitRow.com. Click here for the 30 second sign up.
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 22, 2009 7:11 pm UTC No Comments
Driving a Fusion for Hall of Fame Racing? That doesn’t inspire me much. I am, after all, a J J Yeley fan too and Hall of Shame didn’t do anything for J J ‘s career.
But the car will be supported through a hybrid, satellite deal where Hall of Fame’s No 96 will be powered and pitted by Doug Yates’ Racing team, which also seems to mean support from Jack Roush and Roush-Fenway’s Ford factory team.
So given some of the scenarios I’d heard and read about concerning Texas Bobby, driving a car with solid support from one of the best organizations in the sport, is about as good as it could get I guess.
And that car will have full season sponsorship from NASCAR’s new “official seach engine“. Ask.com. Spiffy paint scheme too – flames and everything. He’ll get to debut the Ask.com no 96 Fusion in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway next month.
Maybe Labonte will relax a bit too, now that he isn’t “the Great Petty Blue Hope”.