Tag: Richard Childress Racing

The Unstable World Of NASCAR Ownership

 

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”

Earnhardt’s Win Comes At Perfect Time For NASCAR

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A lot has happened over the past few months in the world of NASCAR. Change is the big word for the 2014 season, and that change has been met with a lot of resistance. First with rules the Chase field was expanded and now features a four driver dash in the final race to determine a champion. Qualifying procedures have been changed drastically to feature knockout rounds. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the famous number 3 of Dale Earnhardt has returned to the track and old fans are in an outrage.

NASCAR has kept their head down as they plugged forward with all of these changes. While they do listen to fan feedback, there’s no going back at this point to what some would call “the glory days” of NASCAR. Then over at Richard Childress Racing, they have gotten more grief than they should about running a “sacred” number once again.

All of this noise was going on, but it was silenced late Sunday night. That is when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crossed the finish line first and won the 2014 Daytona 500.

With the victory, Earnhardt is a near sure thing for making the Chase this season. For all the press Austin Dillon got for driving his father’s stylized number 3, Earnhardt will get even more for winning the biggest event on the NASCAR calendar.

The talk will now shift for fans away from how silly this playoff Chase is to “can you believe Earnhardt is already in it!?” He’ll be the big topic once again and with the win has confidence on his side. If Earnhardt can stay competitive and actually pull of his first title, I’m sure none of the complaints we heard at the beginning of the season will matter for most fans.

This is exactly the sort of distraction NASCAR needed from its loyal fan base. It might also win a lot of them over knowing that it was just that easy (well not in reality) for their favorite driver to now make the Chase.

Harvick’s Perception The Indicator Of Why He’s Leaving

One day after having a dust up with his boss’ grandson, Kevin Harvick apologized for comments made after Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. He chalked it up to emotions getting the best of him in the heat of battle. Continue reading “Harvick’s Perception The Indicator Of Why He’s Leaving”

What Now For NAPA And Truex?

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Here’s what we do know: Once the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2013, NAPA Auto Parts will no long be the primary sponsor of the #56 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. Michael Waltrip Racing vows to run the #56 Toyota car with or without new sponsorship coming into replace NAPA and their reported $15-20 million dollar a year sponsorship.

What we don’t know is if Martin Truex, Jr., currently driving that #56 Toyota, will still be the driver when the clock strikes midnight.

There’s a whirlwind of activity going on right now for the MWR team and for Truex. News of NAPA leaving came as a shock to most, especially since Truex was at a NAPA store Thursday night promoting the brand.

In their statement on why they’re leaving MWR, NAPA said they would be reevaluating their NASCAR sponsorship. Many took that as a bad sign that the company, who’s been in NASCAR for a very long time in various divisions, would leave NASCAR all together. I take it as they want to figure out if they want to continue to sponsor just one car full-time, or maybe sponsor a whole team, or move to another series, or wilder yet sponsor an entire series.

We’ll start there, with Nationwide leaving after the 2014 season form sponsoring the second tier NASCAR Nationwide Series, so maybe NAPA would move into that direction. They’ve gotten their name out there in the Sprint Cup Series crowd, maybe dipping down and getting the recognition of a series sponsor could be what they want to do next.

Sponsoring a team versus just one driver could have its perks depending on the team you sponsor. They could spend (if money is an issue) just about the same they were spending on one team over three to four drivers. Picture this, if they went to Hendrick they could put their logo on Jimmie Johnson’s car, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s car, Kasey Kahne’s car, and Jeff Gordon’s car. Then maybe do a few races as full primary sponsor then do all sorts of promotional work with all four drivers.

If you take the same template to Stewart-Haas Racing where you have Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick. Especially Stewart-Haas you could market to four different demographics right there.

My gut says that NAPA stays in as a sponsor for one team, I’m just not sure where that team will be and with what driver. Truex stated after qualifying that he’s committed to MWR and being there for a while. Well, money talks and when it dries up there, he might be tempted to go elsewhere.

Furniture Row Racing needs a driver and wouldn’t mind a sponsor to join him, they could go there. They’ve talked about getting a younger driver to develop, but comments from the team this weekend indicate they’d be open to someone like Turex.

Richard Childress Racing has said they could make a fourth team, provided they could have sponsorship. The interesting part about this scenario is what happens in a few years when Ty Dillon gets promoted to Cup? Who’s the odd driver out with the team?

Other teams with open spots include Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Gibbs and Earnhardt Ganassi haven’t indicated that they were looking to expand this year. Roush Fenway seems to have a spot left open for Trevor Bayne, if they can find sponsorship.

Immediacy up for Truex and his team is the Sylvania 300 being run Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coverage of the race beginning around 1 PM EST on ESPN.

Furniture Row Racing Trying To Get Blaney?

With how silly season has been going, anything might be possible, especially when you start talking about the Furniture Row Racing team. Their season within the season has had more twists and turns than a road course. Continue reading “Furniture Row Racing Trying To Get Blaney?”

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.

Harvick Off To Great Start For The Chase

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Kevin Harvick crossed the finish line in the third position, behind two other Chase drivers Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch, but it was a great start for a driver trying to win his Sprint Cup championship in his final year with the Richard Childress Racing team. When it all shook out, Harvick sits fourth in points behind Kenseth, Busch, and Jimmie Johnson.

“The first half of the race for us, we were really tight, struggled with the handling of our car to be able to get the car to turn through the center of the corner.  We sat down, the engineers and Gil sat down in between the rain delay there and came up with some good adjustments and we were able to make some good ground. Our car was really good on the restarts, so you could pick a bunch of them off pretty easy there going into turn one and two.  All in all, it was a good night, just too loose at the end to run with those guys up off the corner, but still a good night,” Harvick told media members after the completion of the GEICO 400 from the Chicagoland Speedway.

One of the challenges for the weekend was the new restart procedures NASCAR put in place for this race and beyond. Harvick seemed unaffected by the rules, although they helped him push Kenseth to victory. “I think everybody can be a little bit more aggressive as you saw at the end, not worrying about shoving the other guy in front.  I think when the green flag goes, you just start going and make a decision as to whether you want to go low or push the guy in front of you.”

While he was moving up fast during the middle of the race, Harvick conceded he might not have had anything for Kenseth even if he could have gotten to him.

“Looked like the run before, Kyle was a little bit better than the 20.  They were evenly matched.  I was hoping they would get side by side, you have one of them slide up, able to get three wide or something happen.  I figured that was better than going to the bottom and getting three wide and being pinned on the bottom and getting passed by two or three cars on the top. I figured that was my best option,” Harvick explained.

Harvick and the rest of the Sprint Cup Series are back in action this Sunday when they run the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coverage begins about 1 PM EST on ESPN.