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 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 @onpitrowOctober 24, 2008 9:39 am UTC No Comments
Early in the 2007 NASCAR season, someone asked Tony Stewart what he thought about the possibility of Dale Earnhardt Jrleaving the team Junior’s daddy had founded, DEI. Tony famously said…
DEI without Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a museum.”
Well Junior did leave for Hendrick Motorsports and DEI has soldiered on. More than a museum, but less successful than before, Teresa Earnhardt’s organization faces an uncertain racing future, with lack of sponsorship and no real headliner of a driver being the chief problems, it seems.
For a week or better, NASCAR’s rumor mill has featured DEI with Petty Enterprises as a potential dance partner. So the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog wants your thoughts on this question.
Is there any good reason that you see for a Petty Enterprises and DEI merger?
Charlie: I don’t see it if it’s there. Normally, mergers take place between a strong and a relatively weaker partner or between two entities with complimentary assets. Maybe one has a surplus of cash and the other a talent or technical advantage, for example. I can’t see that here. Both teams have the same, critical challenge in finding major sponsors. Steve claimed ON PIT ROW Tuesday that Petty Enterprises has this in the Wells-Fargo deal. I don’t see it. As I understand the Wells-Fargo sponsorship, it is, 1) for maybe 20 races and 2) it’s tied to Kyle Petty, who seems to be on the way out. A half season sponsor package for one car doesn’t seem a compelling reason to partner-up with Petty.
DEI has strong personnel in their shops. But are those people committed to staying? This one just doesn’t make sense to me.
Bruce: It seems like a desperate measure between two teams that don’t have
a solid foothold in the competitive or sponsor race.
Back in September Patty Petty let slip in an interview that between Chad Mcumbee and Terry Labonte, that Kyle’s last ride is probably going to be at Phoenixand that McCumbee is plan A for Petty Entperprises next year. With the lack luster performance of Petty Entperprises, and DEI’s slowly going down the drain when Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Budweiser left, and now Mark Martin, the only reason a merger would be considered would be to join the two classic names of NASCAR and maybe capture some new sponsors with that spin. That’s the only thing I can come up with. At the very least, if this merged entity does run down the drain, the swirling, sucking drain sound will be twice as loud and unmistakable!
That’s what we think. What do you think?
Over at Bruce’s NASCAR Bits blog, Bruce has a question that’s close to my heart. It’s about racing bars. Not track bars or sway bars this time but good, old carousing bars, where the beer and the Bench Racing flow in commensurate quantities. Since we broadcast ON PIT ROW and INSIDE ARCA live from just such a place – the Toledo Speedway Bar and Grill – every week, I have some opinions. Check it out and give us yours…
SPEED Channel is opening a new cantina next to Phoenix International Raceway and should be ready for business by the time NASCAR hits the track next month. Charlie, you got anything on NASCAR bars… I mean “joints”. Damn… I bars… I meant “cantina”?
Photo credit: Icon Sports Media, Inc
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.
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 @onpitrowSeptember 19, 2008 9:20 am UTC 1 Comment
Did a broken two dollar bolt really cancel out a season of NASCAR dominance like we’ve never seen before?
Maybe and maybe not. Kyle Busch’s run and pout act after the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Chase kick-off didn’t help. The guy seems to handle success just fine. It’s the little bumps in life’s road that challenge him. That doesn’t make him unusual. But it may not make him a champion either.
Dodge’s NASCAR status is seeing some of those bumps as well. Dodge announced they were dumping the Craftsman Truck Series last week. And now they may be going from dumper to dumpee, as the team that brought them into the Sprint Cup Series, may be jumping ship.
If the rumors turn out to be true, and Gillette-Evernham Motorsports buys Bill Davis Racing and becomes a Toyota team, is it a good thing for NASCAR and the sport?
Charlie: Well, it would weaken the Dodge presense in a serious way. On the other hand, it would probably strengthen GEM and save Bill Davis Racing’s No. 22 team – which has been pretty good for the most part. With Dodge pulling out of the Truck Series, the future of their involvement in NASCAR’s other series is cloudy. Dodge needs to show that they are in this thing to compete for the long haul, on a level with the other three manufacturers. Not sure they have everyone convinced of that right now. You can’t blame GEM or BDR for making a move like this. I say, what’s good for the teams – and competition on the track – is good for the sport.
Bruce: Though technically, GEM switching to Toyota would weaken what Dodge presence there is, would it really? The Dodge teams are all struggling, per se, with the highest spot they hold in the standings right now at 13th, (Kahne) then Newman in 17th. GEM has to lookout for itself and that’s that. More fans could balk at more Toyota’s in the field, but it would seem that Toyota has proven itself sufficiently. Dodge needs to show they are in it for the long haul, but even a little thing like pulling out of the Truck Series can’t help that endeavor. The economy just isn’t there for them any more. Maybe they should have already put more into NASCAR… too little, too late?
That’s what we think. What do you think? Let us know your opinions on this topic and Bruce’s own query…
If NASCAR insists on limiting the year end competition to top performing drivers, are 12 drivers too many?
Photo credit: Icon Sports Media, Inc.
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 @onpitrowAugust 1, 2008 9:28 am UTC 9 Comments
Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Chrissy Wallace headline the young driver talent at Pocono Raceway this weekend. Wallace and Stenhouse will compete in the ARCA RE/MAX Pennsylvania 200 on Saturday.
NASCAR will have a contingent of young guns too. Aric Almirola, Regan Smith and Michael McDowell all hope to compete in Sunday’s Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series is due for a big influx of new, young drivers over the next couple seasons. Several cupsters who, not so long ago, were considered the new Young Guns, could be pushed out of the way.
That’s where this week’s Loose in Turn 3 topic comes from.
Should Tony Stewart look for the hot, young prospect, maybe someone from the open wheel ranks, instead of a current, high dollar star like Ryan Newman for his second car at Stewart-Haas?
Charlie: Things changed for Stewart-Haas Racing after the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Jason Leffler managed to drive the #70 to a finish that took that car to 35th in owner’s points. If the team is able to maintain that position, Stewart-Haas Racing will have both cars qualified for the 2009 Daytona 500 and the first five races of 2009. There would be less pressure to have a driver experienced with, and accomplished at, qualifying. If Stewart is convinced that he has identified the next… well the next Tony Stewart, he might think it’s worth the risk. That said, I’d still take Ryan Newman or Martin Truex. Keep the new sponsors happy. Gamble with the third car when that’s ready.
TZ: I don’t know. I think for many race teams, the pursuit of a young talent to complete their driver roster is often the way to go – and, we’re going to see that next year from either Penske or Childress- but, I don’t think it really works for Stewart-Haas … not at this point, anyway. What it comes down to is that even with Stewart as the new face of the organization, these guys are going to be going through a monumental rebuilding period. Without Ryan Newman, Martin Truex, or hell, even Casey Mears behind the wheel of that other car, they may not get the sponsorship prestige that they’re looking for. It’s all moot anyway, though … Newman’s going to be in this no. 4 car.
Bruce: Stewart needs to stick to Cup drivers. I’ve not been impressed with any new outside talent coming into NASCAR and Stewart needs every edge he can get with his new venture.
Is Randy Moss’ recent 50% purchase of what is now Moss Motorsports good for the sport?
Bruce’s topic this week revolves around this…
With Tony Stewart acting out over in USAC, what’s that about? Do you think the stress of starting up a new team might be getting to him?
Photo credit: Icon Sports Media, Inc.
by Charlie Turner
So I saw this post about Michael Waltrip Racing’s big plans for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Scene Daily. They didn’t ask Mikey about his domestic tranquility, or lack of same. Waltrip did talk about what he calls generation three of MWR’s version of the CoT, and how his team has improved the car – citing lower weight, and how lowering the center of gravity is a key, to him, in improving the New Car.
“Drivers talk about how this car is heavier than the old cars. That means the center of gravity is very critical. A way that I can explain this is if Jeff Gordon and I are racing, and if he has a lower center of gravity in comparison to mine, then he will have the ability to make it through the corners faster.”
Of course, if Mikey has a lower center of gravity than Jeff Gordon, Gordon will still be faster through the corner than Waltrip. I mean, he’s Jeff Gordon for cryin’ out loud!