NAPA dropping sponsorship of MWR

Wow – big news. NAPA had agreed to a 3 year sponsorship extension of Martin Truex Jr. last year, but today they are announcing that they are ending their sponsorship this year.

‘NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR,’ NAPA said in a statement. ‘We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports.’

Once again, the guy who was not a part of the shenanigans gets penalized the most.

NASCAR really blew the call here. I think it’s becoming more clear that the call should have been to DQ Bowyer from the Chase, and figure out who should be in after that.

I think (but can’t be sure, because finding the points standings after Richmond, but before the points were reset is difficult), that Newman and Truex would have been in, and Gordon would still be looking in from the outside.

Then, if NASCAR was serious about the “quid pro quo” penalties on the 22 team, they could have also DQ’d Logano and put the next qualifying driver in, which would be Gordon. If they were serious about it.

Instead, NASCAR has created an unholy mess of things, and helped cost a top tier team their sponsorship. Does anyone think that NAPA would end their ties to MWR if the 55 team was in the chase and not tied into the cheating scandal, and instead the punishment was only handed out to the 15 and 55 teams?

Montoya to Penske… in Indy Car in 2014

Montoya to drive the #2 Team Penske Indy car next year, with teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

I guess AJ Allmendinger’s two lap one crashes at Detriot this year eliminated him from the ride.

Montoya should be really good over there, assuming he can get along with Helio and Will.

EDIT: choice quote from nbcsports.com

“Stunned shock” is probably the best way to describe the news Monday morning that Juan Pablo Montoya would move back to open-wheel racing in 2014, shifting from NASCAR to IndyCar and driving for Roger Penske.

Is there such a think as “un-stunned shock”? How about “stunned, but lacking in shock”?

Either way, the move back to open wheel is not news. The news is that he’s going to Ganassi rival Penske, and that he called off the Andretti deal. But still, not shocking or stunning, as far as I’m concerned.

Gordon added to chase – Lucky #13 on Friday the 13th

From nascar.com

“It is an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances that unfolded multiple different ways on Saturday night,” France said. “We believe this is the right outcome to protect the integrity, which is our No. 1 goal, of NASCAR.”

Because the best way to ensure integrity is to disregard your own rules for size and eligibility of your post-season championship field and inform the competitors after they’ve already completed practice and are prepping for qualifying.

What a mess.

Vickers Stands his Ground

In a somewhat remarkable piece for USA today, Brian Vickers says he has no regrets about pitting under green to help a teammate get into the chase.

If helping a teammate, friend and brother in arms is a crime, then I’m guilty. I didn’t make that call to pit last Saturday nor did I even understand why we did it at the time. But if my teammate(s) needed me again and it was of no consequence to me, my team or our partners, I would make the same decision time and time again.

Pulling over and letting a teammate pass has been going on ever since there have been multi-car teams. I think if Bowyer had just pitted and intentionally lost a bunch of laps, there wouldn’t be much outcry at all, and certainly no penalty. As we discussed on our latest podcast, the real issue with the MWR shenanigans is the fact that they didn’t simply help a teammate with a few positions on track, but that they took away positions and spots in the chase from two other teams that had earned them on the track.

Appologizing for the Cheaty McCheaterson 400 at Richmond

This week, we address the super-blatant cheating of the race at Richmond, and even include a poorly acted skit! Also, our opinionated take on the penalties, and our Chicago Chase Race prognostications.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Matt Kenseth
Rob: Joey Logano

Big Day for Newman

Saturday night Newman was out of the chase and hadn’t announced a ride for 2014.

Today, he’s in the chase and RCR announced he will be taking over the #31 Caterpillar Chevy for 2014.

How quickly things turn around.

Kyle Petty gets it wrong again

With the changing landscape around the Stewart-Hass release of Ryan Newman and subsequent expansion to four cars with Kurt Busch, it’d be easy to assume that Tony Stewart simply lied to Ryan Newman about the 2014 plan of SHR.

If you’re Kyle Petty, that’s exactly what you did:

“I was pretty disappointed to hear Kyle Petty say that we basically lied to Ryan and deceived Ryan,” Stewart said. “Deceived was the word that he used actually. They said we deceived him … in doing this.”

Why would Kyle Petty say such things? It’s pretty obvious that Stewart had no idea that Gene Haas was going go all “lone cowboy” and buy a fourth team for the 2014 season.

If Kyle Petty had bothered to talk to people involved, or even read one of the Gene Haas press interviews (see our report), he wouldn’t make such ridiculous statements.

But then, he is Kyle Petty. Wrong about Danica Patrick, wrong about Denny Hamlin, wrong about Stewart-Hass. Which other of the 40-odd teams and drivers will he be wrong about next? My guess is all of them.

Montoya visits Furniture Row

Headline says it all, really. From jayski

#78-Front Row Racing general manager Joe Garone confirmed to FOX Sports that Juan Pablo Montoya visited the Denver-based shop on Tuesday and remains on the teams shortlist to replace Kurt Busch in 2014. Garone also told FOX Sports that there has not been discussion between Furniture Row Racing and Jeff Burton, who will part ways with Richard Childress Racing at the end of the year.

Kickin’ it on an old school surface with new school tires in Atlanta

This week’s schmak is a little shorter than normal due to a tight recording schedule.

Still, plenty to schmak about – the race at Atlanta, the Max Papis schmak, and a Richmond preview.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Joey Logano
Rob: Clint Bowyer

And the Jimmie Johnson catastrophe of the week:
Coach: Spin
Rob: Blown tire

Burton out at RCR in 2014, more updates

Announced today, Jeff Burton will not be back in the 31 car for 2014. That leaves Richard Childress with one announced driver for 2014 – Paul Menard in the 27.

“We have been working hard to try and get all the funding in place to have four Sprint Cup teams in 2014,” Childress said. “With the date on the calendar getting closer to 2014, we just couldn’t run partially funded teams next year. Knowing what Jeff’s plans were in 2015, he and I worked out an agreement for him to step out of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet after this season.”

So, speculation is that Austin Dillon will be filling the vacated 29 car (and changing numbers to #3), and Ryan Newman will fill the 31, with Caterpillar still staying with Childress.

Also of note, Caterpillar is a partial season sponsor, and Ryan Newman brings Quicken Loans with him as a second partial season sponsor – could be a good match.

A Glintering Example of Mildly Amusing Meaningless Drivel… at Bristol

This week’s podcast is one of our most immature late night recordings. Or fun, depending on how you look at it.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Kurt Busch
Rob: Kevin Harvick

Note: My apologies for the lateness of this podcast. It was recorded on Tuesday night, but life this week precluded me from editing and posting until now.

Silly Season updates

Vickers to the #55 at MWR
Kurt Busch to the #00 at SHR
Kyle Larson to the #42 at EGR
UPDATE
AJ Allmendinger to the #47 for 2014

Newman to… RCR fourth car? Or the #78

That’s what I’m betting on. He could also take the 78, but I think RCR has wanted to go to 4 cars and Newman would fit in over there.

Austin Dillon I’m guessing will also be driving the #3 at RCR.

Montoya to Andretti racing in IRL.

So that leaves the 78, 51, 47, and a potential 3rd Penske car up for grabs.

Wild Ass Guesses

Sam Hornish to the #12? Probably not. Penkse hasn’t been in the rumor mill about expanding to 3 competitive cars next year.

Mark Martin to the #78? Not sure they want two part time drivers. More likely Newman if he’s willing, and not in an RCR car.

Regan Smith to the #51?

Kyle Larson to EGR

Confirmed – Kyle Larson will take over the 42 car next year. We discussed this on a recent episode of Track Schmak, and the conclusion was that as good as Kyle is, the team owners should have learned a lesson from Joey Logano about moving young hot-shot drivers into cup too soon.

Still, silly season has gotten pretty silly already, no reason it can’t continue. It also could make for a very interesting 2014, with a rumored Austin Dillon move to cup with RCR as well.

They’re breaking left and right

First, Denny Hamlin. Then, Tony Stewart. Then, Martin Truex. Now, Bobby Labonte.

These are all of the drivers who have broken bones this season, 2 while in a Cup car.

From nascar.com

Bobby Labonte will miss Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway after suffering three broken ribs in a bicycle accident Wednesday morning near his home in Trinity, N.C.

Labonte, the 2000 series champion in his 21st season of racing at NASCAR’s highest level, suffered no other injuries in the accident, according to a release from his marketing agency. He is being held in a local hospital overnight for observation, the release said.

He will be replaced in the 51 car by Mike Bliss.

Stewart not on board with fourth car expansion

From sbnation.com

“I didn’t have really a chance to talk to Tony about it at all since he wasn’t really talking to anybody,” Haas said. “So I kind of did this on my own, probably overstepped my authority a tick there. I’m not used to having too many authorities to work with; I’ve been pretty much on my own. I did realize that Tony might be a little bit upset about it.”

When finally told of the expansion plans Stewart was a “little upset” said Haas, who also acknowledged that he “bent a few rules” in his quest to sign Busch. Stewart even told his partner that he wasn’t against the idea of adding a fourth car but to wait until the infrastructure was in place at SHR to house four teams.

This is turning into a big mess.

Will they be ready to field 4 competitive cars next year? Maybe. Shop space has to be cleared and setup, teams have to be hired and start training, all sorts of other logistics need to ironed out.

Looks to be an interesting year coming up. And by “interesting”, I mean lots of conflict behind the scenes.

“My main goal here is to win races. I think Tony’s main goal is not only to win races but to run a successful business. I’m more interested in seeing the winning part of it. Maybe Tony is going to be more the businessman now.”

Them’s fightin’ words!

Speaking of a Busch brother

From yahoo sports

SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said Friday the team is moving forward in its pursuit of 2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch, who has been offered a seat in a new ride that would expand the organization to four cars next season. The push for Busch is being made by team co-owner Gene Haas, who Zipadelli said only wants Busch for the seat that apparently would be funded and sponsored by Haas’ CNC machine company Haas Automation, Inc.

I guess that answers the question of why Ryan Newman is losing his ride, and yet they’re still expanding the team.

It raises a few more questions, though. Why does Gene Haas really want Kurt Busch so much? And how long will Kurt Busch last at a team with all of those hot-heads? Will he be back to his normal, irritable self?

This is the photo that yahoo sports chose to run of Kurt Busch:

KurtBusch

Finally:

”Obviously, something’s changed,” Zipadelli said. ”Gene Haas is our partner and started this many years ago. He’s always liked Kurt. We talked about Kurt last year, putting him in the 39 (driven by Newman). Things just didn’t work out. It’s nothing Ryan did wrong. He’s done a great job. He’s a great guy, a heck of a driver.

Just not a ‘heck of a driver’ enough.

Speaking of Bristol – no hands burnout by Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch has been practicing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43ap3kylUyE

Top 12 drivers at Bristol

Jayski has an interesting chart of the top 12 drivers at Bristol since 2005. This list is based upon a whole host of factors, not just finishing position. Not surprised to see Kenseth in 3rd, very surprised to see Greg Biffle in 5th.

Top 12 Driver Ratings at Bristol:
#18-Kyle Busch…………………………. 103.0
#24-Jeff Gordon………………………… 100.6
#20-Matt Kenseth………………………… 99.9
#2-Brad Keselowski……………………. 99.0
#16-Greg Biffle……………………………. 95.8
#48-Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 93.8
#78-Kurt Busch…………………………… 92.8
#11-Denny Hamlin……………………….. 90.8
#29-Kevin Harvick……………………….. 90.3
#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr………………….. 87.9
#5-Kasey Kahne………………………… 86.8
#39-Ryan Newman………………………. 86.7

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (17 total) among active drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.(NASCAR)

Michiganagain (again)

This week, rumors and news take over. What’s happening with the 14 car? Where is Mark Martin going next year? How about Juan Pablo Montoya? And what’s the deal with the Dillon boys? These questions and many more are asked in this week’s podcast, and some are even answered!

Also, our shirt campaign was fulfilled, so the shirts will be making their way out to you all sometime soon.

Picks for next week:

Rob: Kyle Busch
Coach: Brian Vickers

Celebrating the Road Course at Watkins Glen

This week, we celebrate the racing that is always exciting at a road course, talk about Max Papis and his successful subbing, Kyle Busch, and his dangerous celebrating, and a whole lot in between.

Picks for Michigan:
Coach: Dale Jr. (again)
Rob: Martin Truex Jr.