Catching up on the news and notes from the past week or so. Touching briefly on topics from around NASCAR including the further fallout of Kurt Busch’s profanity laced tirade directed at Dr. Jerry Punch, Kevin Harvick getting a new crew chief in 2012, Michael Waltrip Racing changing up the numbers on one of their cars, Andy Lally’s NASCAR adventure is over, Roush-Fenway begins to downsize, and David Ragan was tossed under a bus by Jack Roush and then he backed it up, wait…no, he back tracked. That’s what it was, he back tracked on his comments. You got all that? Well if you don’t, keep reading.
Busch fined for tirade
NASCAR announced today that it has fined Kurt Busch $50,000 for actions detrimental to stock car racing (and Dr. Jerry Punch), more specifically an inappropriate hand gesture (flying bird) and abusive language (ya think?). It’s a shame it’s after the season, so no points could be taken, but hopefully this could be a nice little wake up call for Busch. Still unclear who Busch was giving the bird to on his drive to the garage or why ESPN wouldn’t acknowledge it showed it for a good ten seconds live on air.
Harvick has a new crew chief
Richard Childress Racing announced on November 23rd that Shane Wilson has been named the crew chief for Kevin Harvick starting in 2012. Wilson had worked with Clint Bowyer in 2011 as his crew chief, he replaced Gil Martin who had been Harvick’s crew chief since 2009. Richard Childress announced that it was Harvick that requested a change atop the pit box at Phoenix this year. The release also mentioned that further changes were on the horizon for Richard Childress Racing.
Good bye 00
Michael Waltrip Racing announced on November 23rd that in 2012 the #00 would not be used, rather the #55 would be used instead. That number will adorn the car that Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin and driver TBA will share in 2012 and 2013. This is not the first rodeo for the #55 at MWR, as Waltrip used it in his one year stint at Bill Davis Racing then under the MWR banner for three seasons (2007-2009). The sponsor for the car will be Aaron’s Rent Center which tied into the number change as that is when the store was founded, in 1955.
Lally back to the Grand-Am Series in 2012
Andy Lally announced via his Twitter account that he will race for Magnus Racing in the Grand-Am Series for 2012 in a Porsche. Lally, the 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, completed his first full year in NASCAR then had a bitter split from TRG Motorsports. He also confirmed he was not closing the book on his NASCAR career saying “I will still be racing as much NASCAR as possible” and “especially the road course races.”
It’s shocking that after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series title and nearly winning a Sprint Cup Series title, Roush-Fenway Racing can’t get sponsorship. Without sponsorship, changes were coming to the team in the form of the #6 Cup car being shut down, and the Nationwide Series teams going from the to one and a half. That’s right, one and a half teams. Speed TV reported that the layoffs began with more than 100 workers being let go right after the conclusion of the team. Add on top of that, they still don’t have sponsorship for Matt Kenseth in the Cup Series (although they have rough 50 sponsors for Carl Edwards). On the Nationwide side there still hasn’t been any announcement to who will drive, although Jack Roush indicated after Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. won the title, the focus would be on getting Trevor Bayne a title. So Stenhouse might not even be around to repeat his performance from this year. This is very troubling that a team of this statute can’t get sponsorship, good luck to everyone else.
Roush toss Ragan under the bus…
NASCAR.com ran an article that had some interesting comments by Roush-Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush taking what seemed to be shots at David Ragan. Please keep in mind for potentially his last race for him, Ragan was given an experiment engine that blew up at Homestead. Roush said “David Ragan was a frustration and a disappointment for all of us,” Roush said, “because he was not able to realize the potential that he had, given what his skill is and what the expectations of the sponsor were, and what the performance that was being demonstrated in the car, and what the engineering package was.” I can see Roush’s point, in five seasons Ragan peaked in 2008 finishing 13th in the standings and getting six top fives and 14 top tens. He didn’t do much in 2009 or 2010, combined no wins, no poles, no top fives, five top tens, and finished 27th and 24th respectively. This year he was able to get his first win (at Daytona), his first two poles, had four top fives, and eight top tens. But in the end only managed to get to 23rd position in points. As the man handed the difficult task of replacing Mark Martin he came up very short.
Roush back tracked a day later (Monday original comments, Tuesday these comments) that they were more about him not finding the combination for Ragan versus his driving. “I have nothing but the highest level of respect for David Ragan both as a person and a competitor,” Roush said. “He has been a valuable member of the Roush Fenway family for many years, and has been a great representative of our organization. The point referred to in my comments was aimed at my sincere disappointment that I have not been able to put the pieces together with David that would have supported the type of success that I feel he is capable. With that said we have watched David grow tremendously as a driver and much of that growth was manifested in his successes on the track this season.” I still say Ragan is a very good Nationwide Series or Camping World Truck Series driver, and a decent Sprint Cup driver. Put him in a series he can excel in is my two cents on the matter.