Tag: Joe Gibbs Racing

Question Marks Heading Into Atlanta Over Replacement Drivers

The season opening Daytona 500 is over, but there will be many questions to answer in the coming days for the next event on the schedule. Ironically it involves both of the Busch brothers and polar opposite reasons.

The elder, Kurt, has been indefinitely suspended by NASCAR because of the findings of a local Delaware court to issue a restraining order to keep himself away from his ex-girlfriend. Busch appealed the initial suspension by NASCAR, but the appeals panel upheld the decision and for now Kurt will be in limbo waiting to see when NASCAR might let him back into the sport.

To cover on Sunday, the Stewart-Haas Racing team tabbed Regan Smith. Smith did good job finishing 16th. For Atlanta and beyond, the team has been mum on who might take the reins. This isn’t their first rodeo in dealing with a driver being out, they had to make arraignments prior for Tony Stewart the last two years. My guess is since the Xfinity Series schedule matches up with the Sprint Cup Series schedule, they will have Smith continue to drive for them until Busch is brought back. A wildcard here might be Jeff Burton, who filled in for Stewart last season, and is available until the second half of the season when his new television contract kicks in when NBC takes over.

I like the idea of the team, with its strong Hendrick Motorsports ties, putting in Chase Elliott to make his Sprint Cup Series debut at Atlanta next weekend. It would the perfect setting for Elliott, who grew up down the road in Dawsonville, Georgia, to get his first race under his belt.

For the younger brother Kyle, he is out indefinitely after suffering a compound fracture of his right leg and a broken left ankle. No time table has been announced, but taking in both those injuries, I suspect he will be out of commission for about two months minimum. Thinking back to when Tony Stewart broke his leg in August of 2013, he was out the final three months of the season. He was not even back in a racecar until February of 2014, so that time table for Busch might be even longer.

Who might replace Busch is an interesting question. The team had Matt Crafton fill in on Sunday, with Crafton finishing 18th in his series debut. With gaps in the Truck schedule, he could be a worthy fill in. Looking at the drivers in house for Joe Gibbs Racing you have Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez who could fit the bill. The only question I have with both is being rookies to even the Xfinity Series, would Gibbs rely on them to carry the 18 team with Busch on the sidelines.

A wildcard in this might be Michael McDowell, who’s running for Leavine Family Racing, but they are not expected to attempt all the races. He could possibly pop in when LFR is not planning on running. Anyone who is picked would need Toyota ties, in my opinion, which is why Crafton lined up very well for the team on such short notice.

I would expect both teams to try and line up one driver to take on the schedule instead of picking drivers each week. Who exactly they go with, we’ll have to wait and see what is announced for Atlanta and beyond.

2015 Rules Will Lead To More Cup Drivers Doing Double Duty

As Kyle Busch crossed the finish line yesterday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, many fans let out a collective sigh of disappointment. Once again a Sprint Cup Series regular won a Nationwide Series race. Add to that Busch just won the night prior in the Camping World Truck Series.

Based on new rules for the Sprint Cup Series, this should be a sight to see in each Nationwide (soon to be XFINITY) Series and Camping World Truck Series races, Cup drivers dominating. Starting in 2015, the Sprint Cup Series cars will have less horsepower, putting them in line with the Nationwide Series cars. Add to that talk about a ban on testing and many teams will be putting in work on Saturdays for use on Sundays.

To underscore the point of Cup Series drivers dominating the Nationwide Series, Joe Gibbs Racing got their 100th win with Busch’s triumph in the series. Of those 100 wins, 94 have been Cup drivers winning for them. Only Mike McLaughlin (2001), Mike Bliss (2004), Aric Almirola (2007 big asterisk on this because Denny Hamlin relived Almirola for this race), Joey Logano (2008 before he went to Cup in 2009), Elliott Sadler (2014), and Sam Hornish, Jr. (2014) have been the lone exceptions. And even then some have question marks on how to count them.

If fans thought it was bad before, it is going to get a lot worse. The only silver lining is NASCAR’s rule about getting points for one series will keep the Cup drivers from winning the championship, but we should be seeing more no win champions like Austin Dillon last season.

Sadler Should Do Good With Roush Fenway In 2015, Not Great

There was a time when Roush Fenway Racing was brought up, in respect to the Nationwide (soon to be XFINITY) Series you could say it was dominate. Mark Martin spent many years winning a lot of races for the team, then Carl Edwards stepped in and kept the train rolling, and then there was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. picking up back to back championships.

As with their Sprint Cup Series effort, dominate is not the word I would use to describe the team. I’m not sure what exactly the word would be because whenever I think they’re down and out, the team comes through with a good performance.

Announced for 2015 is veteran Elliott Sadler joining the organization to drive alongside Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher. There should be a bump in performance given Sadler’s experience, currently Trevor Bayne is the most experience driver in the stable, but I’m not expecting miracles for Sadler or his teammates.

Sadler is a puzzle of a driver right now. He’s’ shown the ability to get it done, but for some reason or another there is no consistency. When he drove for Richard Childress Racing from 2011 to 2012, he was in the thick of the championship hunt and won races. That relationship eroded and he left knocking on the door for a title.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2011 34 5 0 12 24 181 8.7 9.8 2
2012 33 4 4 15 24 366 6.7 7.6 2

Joining Joe Gibbs Racing, a team that dominates week in and week out thanks to Kyle Busch, you figured he would make that next step to champion. The results, including this year, have been disappointing and are likely why Sadler will be in his third team in four years. He finally got a win this season at Talladega, but has been lackluster everywhere else.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2013 33 0 0 9 20 150 12.1 11.2 4
2014 30 1 1 6 22 148 9.2 9.7 4

Looking at his performance versus his future team and you see the numbers are not drastically that far from each other. Buescher added a win this year, Bayne has yet to break through, but has a pole, and Reed has spent the year learning the ropes.

Driver Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
Reed 30 0 0 1 1 29 17.3 16.5 9
Bayne 30 1 0 5 20 62 11.9 10.6 6
Buescher 29 0 1 4 13 57 11.3 12.9 7
Sadler 30 1 1 6 22 148 9.2 9.7 4

That is why when you mash the numbers up to predict what Sadler could do with Roush Fenway Racing, the results are about where he is now with Joe Gibbs Racing. Granted, there are factors we won’t know for a while, including the makeup of Sadler’s team, but on paper it’s a lateral move.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2015 33 1 1 7 17 130 11.3 11.3 5

I expect Sadler to compete from time to time, be consistent, which will lead to him being near the top of the standings, but that will be deceiving. I don’t see him as a legitimate title contender at this point, like he was with Richard Childress Racing.

Fourth Joe Gibbs Racing Team Could Come At Expense Of Nationwide Team

The newest rumor pegging Carl Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing has a bit of an interesting twist. Motorsports.com’s Lee Spencer is reporting in order to get the funds to create a fourth team at JGR, they would take M&M’s away from Kyle Busch and put them with Edwards. For Busch, Monster Energy would move up and sponsor his car.

On the surface a few questions arise, the first being what Spencer mentions in her article, Edwards being a health nut being sponsored by a candy company does not make much sense. Sure a driver needs to endorse a product, but I can’t tell you if I’ve ever seen Kyle Busch actually eat M&M’s on camera. It might be a slight conflict of personal interests, but I’m sure Edwards wouldn’t say no to the opportunity to drive for Gibbs.

Even with Kyle Busch, M&M’s tries to be family oriented, and Busch’s actions sometimes clashed with that. Edwards has shown he’s a “good guy” of the sport, run ins with Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth aside, and could push the family values side M&M’s probably wants.

Having Monster Energy sponsor Busch would make sense as they could embrace the image the Busch has. Such as when they embrace Kyle and brother Kurt starting a few years back. I’m just surprised that Monster would be willing to put up that money to be in the Cup Series, as I assumed they were in Nationwide because of the lowered costs.

If Joe Gibbs Racing loses that Monster sponsorship in the Nationwide Series, would we see an end of Kyle Busch running down there? The team has struggled to get sponsorship over the past few years, including putting the #18 team as strictly part-time. I’m sure they could find some sponsors to run Busch, but would those companies put up enough funds to keep the #54 going all year long like how Monster has the past few years?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but you won’t hear much for right now as all parties involved have no comment to share.

The Unstable World Of NASCAR Ownership

Rick_Hendrick_Tony_Stewart

With the recent demise of Swan Racing, it got me thinking about the ownership landscape of NASCAR. It seems every year we see a team come in and leave within a year or two. Only a handful of organizations have stood up to the test of time. Here are my survival theories.

To get an idea of how unstable the world of NASCAR ownership is, I took a look back to 1990 and noted what teams were in the Daytona 500 for that year. Granted, some drivers missed the show and ran the rest of the year, but I used that race as my baseline. From there I looked at five year intervals going all the way up to 2014.

The 1990 Daytona 500 list reveals only four teams that existed then still competed in 2014;and one team technically still operates, but has gone through a ton of mergers. The four teams are Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Wood Brothers Racing. At the time Childress only fielded a single entry for Dale Earnhardt; Hendrick ran three teams; Roush had only one car; and the Wood Brothers had their single entry.

Of those four organizations, both Roush and Childress had to get outside help/investment in their teams during the past decade. Though crew members, drivers, and management all change year to year, the business ownership entity has stayed the same over the years. Hendrick Motorsports and Wood Brothers Racing are the only two to have their teams 100 % intact. Going one step further, the Wood Brothers no longer run full schedules. This leaves Hendrick Motorsports as the only team to keep their team intact since 1990.

Another team with this group is SABCO Racing (then later Team SABCO) owned by Felix Sabates. They ran the #42 Pontiac for Kyle Petty in 1990 where Sabates ran the team for many years before bringing in Chip Ganassi in 2001. From there the team re-branded itself as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. In 2008, the team merged with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to become Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Finally this year, they divested themselves of the Earnhardt name to go back to Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

Like most teams, Ganassi has seen its organization go from one car up to as many as four, then back down to the current two car operation. Roush started as one car before moving to two then up to five at one point. Currently they operate only three cars. Hendrick has been four cars since 2002 when the organization added Jimmie Johnson, although they have campaigned more in select races. Childress has constantly bounced from three to four cars the past decade without much success with each expansion.

There are two organizations that missed the cut of 1990 that have campaigned cars for over 20 years now, those being Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske. Neither has brought in investors, although Team Penske has acquired teams in order to expand. In 1998 they purchased Michael Kranefuss’ team and then in 2004 they acquired Doug Bawel’s Jasper Motorsports team.

In 1990, 40 of the 42 cars in the Daytona 500 we single car efforts. Only Hendrick Motorsports had more than one entry that race. By 1995 that number decreased slightly to 38 independent teams. By 2000 that number dropped to 27, in 2005 it hit the lowest point at which 20 teams now made up the 43 finishers of the Daytona 500. That number went up to 21 for 2010 and 2014.

Starting from 1990 the number of teams who entered a car in that Daytona 500 to 1995 was 22, so 18 teams disappeared (or missed the race). In 2000 16 teams returned, although organizations like Roush Fenway Racing went from two cars in 1995 to four in 2000. For 2005, the number dipped down to 14, but the worst showing was going to 2010 when only nine teams came back.

That was by far the worst stretch, as teams like Dale Earnhardt, Inc. merged with MB2 Motorsports and then Chip Ganassi Racing, going from eight teams among them down to two. Ray Evernham Motorsports was bought by George Gillette then merged into Petty Enterprises to make Richard Petty Motorsports. Another set of moves that took five teams out of operation and replaced them with only two running now. In the last four year gap of 2010 to 2014, 16 teams came back out of the 21 that entered a car in the Daytona 500.

No one has ever gotten rich from running a race team from the local level up to the NASCAR leagues. Team owners pour millions of dollars into their teams with little to no return; just ask Kyle Busch or Rusty Wallace how team ownership goes. Where organizations like Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing have made their money has been outsourcing services.

Rusty_Wallace

Hendrick Motorsports sells chassis, engines, and technical support to other organizations who race in NASCAR, most notably Stewart-Haas Racing. Roush Fenway Racing created Roush Yates Engines and makes money with that venture among others. Joe Gibbs Racing has developed racing products that they sell to secondary markets.

The key to ownership is having sponsors for one, but also the ability to make other revenue streams into your organization. This is simple business concepts, but unfortunately teams like Swan Racing can’t get the sponsorship that will allow them the foundation on which to set the organization. A great example is even the great empire that is Red Bull Racing, who spends money like crazy in Formula 1 but could not cut it in NASCAR, no matter how much they spent.

NASCAR, and racing in general, is a tough sport because so much is dependent on having the funds to compete for sponsorships. Unless there is a way to cap costs, teams will come and go, and we will even see a time where the mightiest team can just be a distant memory.

Brad Keselowski Vs. Kyle Busch

Kansas_Lottery_300_13_Kansas_Brad_Keselowski_Finger_Point

NASCAR’s newest rivalry has been brewing for a while now. It’s not a surprise given how many races Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch run against each other that they’ve finally bumped heads one too many times.

Tensions came to a boil during Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, the Kansas Lottery 300, from the Kansas Speedway. Keselowski and Busch were racing hard for the second position with 31 laps to go. Presumably leader Matt Kenseth was short on fuel, so the duel could be for the win, and with the two teams neck and neck for the owner’s title, a lot was at stake.

As they came through with 12 laps to go, Busch was under Keselowski, and held in the gas a bit too much and hooked Keselowski. Keselowski slid through the infield and then into the outside, ending his day.

Keselowski then ran to the infield, gesturing towards Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing team and had some harsh words once reporters caught up to him. “I got wrecked by a dirty driver,” Keselowski said. “There’s no other way of putting it. He’s cool with that. I have raced him really cool over the last year to be respectful to him and try to repair our relationship…He put me in the fence in Chicago in the Truck race, and the Nationwide races he has been pulling this crap. It is not going to last, I can tell you that. I feel bad for the guys next to me (indicating the No. 54 team) that are going to have to fix his stuff. That’s going to be part of racing and they are going to have to deal with it…Now we’ve got war.”

To his credit Busch did own the incident, stating “There were a lot of moments where maybe I felt a little crowded, but the contact there that ultimately ended it… I just got real tight off (Turn) 4. I’ve been battling tight underneath him and behind him and everything else, and finally I thought I had a run, and I tried to stay in the gas so I could get a run on him and get to his quarter and side-drafted him down the front straightaway. I got too tight, got inside his wake and just got too close to him and spun him out.”

The problem is Busch kept talking at this point, especially after hearing Keselowski’s remarks, to say “Brad Keselowski knows what dirty drivers are because he’s done it plenty of times. But I have yet to wreck a person on purpose…I got wrecked for the Chase spot by Brad Keselowski (in 2012) and then had an opportunity to wreck him a few times throughout the Chase and didn’t. (I) let him and Jimmie Johnson battle it out on their own, and ultimately he won the deal. If I wanted to, I could have cost Brad Keselowski a championship, but I’m a bigger person than that.”

In Sunday’s Sprint Cup race Keselowski did not have an opportunity to get to Busch as other drivers took care of that for him. During one of the cautions, Keselowski’s spotter radioed him “you’ll enjoy why we’re under caution,” referring to Busch having problems.

The irony in this is during one of the incidents for Busch, he came down on Juan Pablo Montoya, who did not give an inch. The end results was Busch going for a spin and remarking that he’s never spun himself on a straightaway.

You have one driver who has nothing to lose this season (Keselowski) going against a driver who has a short fuse and long memory (Busch). Needless to say this will get interesting.

Oh and for the record, Kyle Busch has crashed himself going in a straight line.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btWYvCUlr4E[/youtube]

Kansas Knockout For Kyle Busch

Hollywood_Casino_400_13_Kansas_Kyle_Busch_Accident

On lap 201 contact with Carl Edwards ended Kyle Busch’s day in the Hollywood Casino 400 from the Kansas Speedway. The race was over, but many believe that his championship dreams are over as well.

Currently, Busch sits in the fifth place, only 35 points behind teammate and leader Matt Kenseth. While that is not an insurmountable lead by any means, the writing is on the wall for another fall Busch collapse. While Kenseth had an off day, he placed 12th, Busch had an off day as well, which was a 34th place finish.

As Dave Moody points out in his blog Busch has fallen apart in 2008 and 2011 after coming into the Chase as the leader in points. This year he sought (and appeared) to be re-writing his history by finishing second in the first two events and finished fifth the week prior at Dover.

This weekend the hits came early and often for Busch. He crashed in practice, spun during the first lap, spun after contact with Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 188, and finally totaled his Camry on lap 201. Never mind the off track issues that saw his Joe Gibbs Racing team fly in a new transmission for his car late Saturday and was the last car through tech on Sunday.

It’s interesting that with the resources and experience of Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch seems to hit a wall when it comes to the final 10 races of the year. Busch is still focus in on the championship and ready to write this off as a case of Kansas Speedway getting the best of him again.

“I have no idea what happened on the last one.  All I know is we’re in Kansas — right? We’ll just have to work hard.  We’ll just have to keep doing what we’ve done and getting us to this point all year long and that’s been consistency.  And every other track except Kansas seems to be able to bode well for us, so we’ll see what happens and if it doesn’t happen — then it doesn’t happen.  It wasn’t meant to be,” Busch told reporters after exiting his car.

Busch and his team will be back at it this weekend in the Bank Of America 500 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The action gets underway Saturday at 7:30 PM EST and can be seen on ABC.