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. Continue reading “Question Marks Heading Into Atlanta Over Replacement Drivers”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Continue reading “The Unstable World Of NASCAR Ownership”
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.
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.