Tag: Cole Whitt

Musical Chairs Starts Early In NASCAR

We’re not even halfway into the 2014 Sprint Cup Series schedule and musical chairs has already started with drivers and teams. Check that, we’re not even halfway to halfway in the 2014 season and it has started.

With Wednesday’s announcement that Swan Racing has divested itself of its team, driver Cole Whitt will go to BK Racing and the team’s other driver, Parker Kligerman, sits in limbo over his NASCAR future. The #30 entry that Kligerman drove is now going to XxxTreme Motorsports, who will have J.J. Yeley behind the wheel.

For Whitt, he gets to continue with his 2014 season uninterrupted but he should be cautious where he is going. BK Racing is a team that has had problems paying drivers in the past (ask Landon Cassill) and they too are without any real sponsorship. The owners of the team own Burger King franchises and put the Burger King logos on their cars to show what sponsorship can do. That’s a double edged sword as other companies might believe they’re fully sponsored. Also the team is going to be running three rookies now (Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex) which means there will be a lot of growing pains for these youngest yet to come.

Kligerman is left rideless at the moment, although he’s still under contract with Swan Racing. This is weird considering Swan has basically sold off everything in these moves and I don’t think they’d field a car later this year or ever. Apparently there is interest by some owners in Kligerman’s services, which he is a heck of a talent that needs a little more time, but it is unclear if those owners reside in the Sprint Cup Series or Nationwide or even Camping World Truck Series.

It is good to see Swan Racing was able to strike deals to keep crew members employed and make sure its teams keep racing. It is troubling how fast this came about and how “exploring restricting options” ended up as selling everything.

The one person who will be laughing at this situation is David Stremme, who helped get Swan Racing on the right path and was unceremoniously kicked out of the ride midway through last season. In fact that led to the awkward situation of the team being based out of Stremme’s own shop.

Unlike Swan Racing, Stremme will be racing this weekend at Richmond with Joe Falk’s team. Hopefully something opens up for Kligerman soon or else he might be the odd man out this early in the season.

The Paradigm Shift In NASCAR

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Much was made last November about a changing of the guard in NASCAR when we ran the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mark Martin and Ken Schrader made it be known it would be their final Sprint Cup Series race. For Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte it represented their final full-time race in the series, although Labonte did not make the trip south as his finale was a week prior at Phoenix.

Beyond those four drivers there are a few more veterans who might be shut out of the Sprint Cup Series in 2014, making a landscape of drivers whom diehard fans know, but the casual fan might not. David Reutimann, an eight year veteran has been let go from BK Racing and it’s not looking good for him securing a new ride. Dave Blaney, with 16 years, has said he will focus more on sprint cars than the Sprint Cup Series in 2014. And signs are not good that Travis Kvapil, a nine year veteran, will have a ride in 2014 either.

There always comes a time in NASCAR when it seems the whole landscape shifts to a new crop of stars. In the late-80s drivers like Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Richard Petty, and Cale Yarborough got out of the way for the new crop. That crop included Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, and Mark Martin among others.

Those drivers have slowly retired along the way, handing off the baton to the likes of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and others. With rides being at a premium in the Sprint Cup Series, this will be the first time in a very long time we will have a deep rookie class coming into the season. That comes at the cost of veterans who have been hanging on, for good or bad.

This rookie class has, officially, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Parker Kligerman, Cole Whitt, and Michael Annett. Unofficially Justin Allgaier should be joining them in the Phoenix Racing entry and most recently it looks like Alex Bowman should as well with BK Racing.

While it is unfamiliar times for some NASCAR fans, this time should be embraced with excitement. While we wish all the veterans can hang on, I for one believe it’s time for change and to get new faces into the sport.