Tag: Austin Dillon

Column: Marty Reid, Truck Schedule, Chase Elliott, & More

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Trying something new before the end of the season by debuting a couple things this week. First up is a weekly column I want to start so I can hit on some topics quickly and give my two cents. This week I touch on ESPN’s dismissal of Marty Reid, the rumored Camping World Truck Series schedule, Chase Elliott reaching out to Ty Dillon, and lots more.

Over the weekend it was leaked that ESPN had chosen to “go another direction” with announcer Marty Reid. Reid had been with the network for 31 years calling everything motorsports. It was becoming painfully obvious that Reid has lost his way as of late. A good indicator of that is that not one, not two, but three compilations of Reid’s errors have been created on YouTube. I saw a lot of objections on Twitter to get rid of him because of how well he did in the wake of the Dan Wheldon tragedy a few years back. He handled that with class and dignity that was needed, I’ll give him that. But to keep someone around because they did one thing once, well that just doesn’t make sense to me.

Ray Dunlap answered a question about the Camping World Truck Series schedule from a fan on Twitter about the makeup he’s seen. According to Dunlap, we’re stuck at 22 races for the third straight year, but they’ll add a second road course race and return to Gateway Motorsports Park. Nothing official has been released and it’s expected for another couple of weeks. If true, I’m glad they’ve added another road course to make it worth the teams to build road course trucks and kudos to them returning to a former track. I was hoping Myrtle Beach would make the cut like rumored and have at least 25 races, but I guess you can’t always get what you want. At least they didn’t add another dirt race to kill that like the NHL has done to its outdoors game.

Popular Speed’s Matt Weaver caught up with Chase Elliott in victory lane after a late model race in Florida over the weekend. He was asked if he’s talked to Ty Dillon in regards to their dust up in the only road course race for the Truck Series this year. Not surprisingly Dillon was not receptive to Elliott’s phone call. They’ll both be in Martinsville in a few weeks, so it should be interesting to see if Dillon takes him out. And I don’t mean to lunch. As for his 2014 schedule and current sponsor Aaron’s, Elliott said they would be leaving, which is leaving his schedule up in the air as of right now.

Mike Mulhern caught up with Speedway Motorsports, Inc.’s Bruton Smith. Among the topics they talked about was NBC starting their NASCAR coverage a year earlier. Smith was emphatic that they would be. As of yet the only official word has been from NASCAR who said nothing is changing, but I’m sure if ESPN and TNT can dump NASCAR, they will in a heartbeat.

Over the weekend Rob Kauffman, the co-owner and brains behind Michael Waltrip Racing, was finally back in America to deal with Spingate. The good news was 5-Hour Energy announced they would return to the #15 of Clint Bowyer. The bad news is Kauffman said he would not personally fund Martin Truex, Jr.’s car next season, which means Truex is most likely moving on. Being vague on the three car effort, I believe they’ll scale back to two cars with knucklehead, er, Michael Waltrip running the restrictor plate races in a third car. Kauffman also vowed to rebuild the team’s credibility, which should be easy without those goofy NAPA commercials.

I try to stay positive on all drivers in my Chase Watch, but here’s a list of drivers who won’t win the title in 2013: Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Ryan Newman. Edwards pains me because he was my pick, Newman pains me because I’m a fan of his, and Earnhardt pains me because he might be hitting his second wind too late. Newman sits 48 points behind, which is a full race behind, with how the other drivers are running, he and the others, aren’t making up that ground in this season.

In the Nationwide Series it’s a two driver race in my opinion between Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish, Jr. Either one winning the title will be interesting story. Dillon captures it before moving to Cup to give him the confidence and quiet the critics. Hornish gets it when he’s looking for a job and quiets everyone who questioned his move to NASCAR. For once I’m not swayed in either direction on who to root for.

End Of The Road For Hornish At Penske?

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As the 2013 season winds down with just over two months left, most drivers have an idea of where they’ll be racing for the 2014 season. One driver who has yet to concretely answer that question is Sam Hornish, Jr.

Hornish is currently driving the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Penske Racing and is doing a great job currently leading the driver standings by 17 points over Austin Dillon. With a win to his credit this year, he’s finally performing at the potential team owner Roger Penske saw when he brought him over to NASCAR in 2008.

The problem was it was directly into the Sprint Cup Series without much preparation in the lower-tier Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series.  The result was finishing 35th in points his first season (2008), he improved the next year (2009) to finish 28th in points, and then regressed finishing 29th the next season (2010).

At that point a sponsorship shortage forced Penske Racing to only run him in select Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races. Focusing on only those few races on the Nationwide side, Hornish got a win in 2011 and six top-10 finishes in 13 starts.

He drove the full 2012 season in the Nationwide Series finishing fourth in points, while also driving 20 races in the Sprint Cup Series after AJ Allmendinger was released from the #22 car. Going into the offseason Hornish thought he had a great chance at getting that car, but instead Penske went with Joey Logano.

While it was a blow to his ego, he’s raced hard this year, and the results are showing. The problem is sponsorship issues are again coming up with the rumor being Penske will only run one Nationwide team next season. Currently it’s Hornish in the full-time ride, then Sprint Cup drivers Brad Keselowski, Logano, and a few other drivers have been running the #22 Ford, which could win the owner’s title.

Odds are they will want to not only keep campaigning Keselowski and Logano, whom have gotten the team seven wins this season, but also provide an opportunity for development driver Ryan Blaney to get some races in. If sponsorship isn’t found, then I can see Hornish as the odd man out once again. For as much as Roger Penske likes Hornish, he just can’t get sponsors to feel the same way.

Hornish’s name has come up recently as a driver for the #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series. The rumor floating is there more interest from Hornish’s side than the team’s side. It’ll be interesting if they go the route of an experienced driver or a young driver and take their lumps.

I personally think Hornish deserves another chance in the Cup Series, it just might not be good to have it with Penske Racing. For all they’ve been through something is just keeping the combination from really clicking on the Cup side.

The Time Is Right For The Return Of Number 3

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There is nothing official for the 2014 season, but all reports indicate that Austin Dillon will be driving a number 3 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This would be the first time that the number has run since Dale Earnhardt died in a last lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.

The mere idea of Dillon running the number has been met with mixed responses from fans. One half say it’s time enough for the numbers return, the other half are opposed to the idea of using the number. In my opinion, it’s time to bring the number back.

The shock of Earnhardt’s death made it natural for owner Richard Childress to go in another direction for the rest of that year. Coping with a driver’s death is done in different ways by teams.

When Davey Allison died in July of 1993, team owner Robert Yates decided to skip the next race, but keep the #28 on the car. This came at the urging of Allison’s family. The same was done when Alan Kulwicki died earlier in the same year. Kulwicki was also the team owner, so the team was looked after by Felix Sabates until a buyer could be found, but also kept Kulwicki’s #7 on the car.

In 2000, Sabates was unfortunately put in the position once again as the direct team owner. Kenny Irwin, Jr. died during a practice crash at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Sabates owned team withdrew from that race and the next week had re-branded the car from #42 to #01. It wasn’t until 2003 did the #42 reappear, which came after Chip Ganassi bought a majority stake in Sabates’ team.

Petty Enterprises had to endure the same situation as Sabates when Nationwide Series driver Adam Petty also died a practice crash at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The team did not change the number, 45, but rather team owner Kyle Petty (also Adam’s father) decided that only he would be the only driver of a car with a number 45 on it. That was the case from then until the tail end of Petty’s career in 2007 and 2008 when he had Chad McCumbee fill in for some races.

It all comes down to how a team can cope with something that might be a constant reminder of a fallen teammate. For Childress and his team, the scar was large and painful for a very long time after not only losing a teammate, but a dear friend.

In Dillon, they have a driver who grew up with the number (Dillon is Childress’ grandson) and understand what it means to his father and fans. While he’s not Dale Earnhardt, Dillon will represent the number with respect and I think having a #3 back on the track will do a lot for fans to finally be able to get over the loss of a legend.