Saturday, January 31, 2009

The 2009 Camping World Truck Series Champion...

Photo credit: RandyMossMotorsports.com

I'm making another bold prediction for the 2009 season. 

Mike Skinner will win the 2009 Camping World Truck Series Championship.

Does this come with some risks?  Sure it does.  But as I like to say, go big or go home.  I've been one of the earliest backers of Moss' foray into the series.  I told people he was committed while others viewed him as a flash in the pan.  Last year the team ran a number of drivers to get acquainted with the series.  As luck (or fate) would have it, the team lands two drivers and a new manufacturer seemingly out of the blue with the demise of Bill Davis Racing.  Skinner is a consummate professional that knows how to win and Tayler Malsam comes with a lot of hype, good enough to have landed a ride with BDR at the end of the season.  What people seem to be forgetting is that the Moss team is still run by David Dollar.  He's been around the block and knows how to run winning teams and championship-caliber teams.  

Skinner will drive the #46 Toyota this season.  I like taking chances with predictions and I would like to see Skinner, Dollar, Moss, and hell, the entire Patriots team celebrating in Homestead.  In a year of rapid changes in the structure of the series, the 1995 Champion could very well claim his second title.

On one side note, maybe the team could run a third truck for Donny Lia, the guy piloting the truck in the picture at the top.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Andretti? Really?

If this is all EGR can come up with, Martin Truex and Bass Pro will skip out at the end of 2009.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Going Out On A Limb

I'm going to give a preview of my pre-season predictions now and give my choice for Nationwide Series Rookie Of The Year.  The driver is Michael Annett, who will drive the full schedule in the #15 Toyota Camry for Germain Racing.

Both Michael Annett and Germain have been smart in their decisions.  Annett was dominant in plate races in ARCA, and ran well everywhere else.  In the Truck Series last year, he most the most of his starts, with a 6th-place effort in his debut and a runnerup finish at Kentucky.  Germain hasn't tried to do more than they can afford, and as a result with now compete in the Sprint Cup Series for at least half the year with a new Cup sponsor in Geico.  That team will also have a technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing.  In the Nationwide Series, the team that was the #7 with Mike Wallace will be taken over by Annett.  As of now, it doesn't look well for former Truck Series Champion Todd Bodine, unfortunately.  You can decide if that's a good or bad thing for yourself.  It benefits Annett, and it will deliver an ROTY award and possibly a breakthrough win at some point during the year.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Richard Petty Motorsports

Out of the blender of teams, names, numbers, and drivers, we have a new 4-car team set to take on the Sprint Cup season - Richard Petty Motorsports.

To sum up, once and for all, the 2009 lineup of RPM (which is a great acronym for a race team, btw) is as follows:

#9 Budweiser - Kasey Kahne
#19 McDonalds/Best Buy/Stanley Tools - Elliott Sadler
#43 McDonalds/Air Force/Valvoline/etc. - Reed Sorenson
#44 Valvoline/etc. - A.J. Allmendinger

As far as team management, I have no idea.  Robbie Loomis and Dale Inman are joining the GEM group, but who knows what order they'll sort this out in.

A few other noteworthy items:

Scott Riggs joins Tommy Baldwin Racing
-Not a bad move for either side, Riggs is a marginally better Cup driver than Blaney and should be bringing State Water Heaters or Hunt Bros Pizza.

No Verizon logos on #12, sponsoring Nationwide effort
-This is something Penske is uniquely experienced with, as their IRL teams are fully sponsored by Marlboro despite not being able to have the logos on the car.  As an Alltel customer, Verizon has a lot to live up to, but I'm hoping for the best.  Justin Allgaier gets the break of a lifetime in the Nationwide Series, and hopefully he'll make the most of it.

Michael Waltrip hopefully retiring after 2009 season
-It can't come soon enough.  Please.  Napa deserves better, and Mikey will make a better owner when he gives up the driving.

Yates looks to have dumped Gilliland
-Not a moment too soon... the 3-car team of Travis Kvapil, Bobby Labonte, and Paul Menard has made Yates a big winner this offseason.

Finally, Danny O'Quinn has a full-time ride... although it's not exactly what I'd hoped for.  Danny will drive the #0 JD Motorsports Chevy.  Maybe he'll get to compete the full season with no S&Ps.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stunning

That's my general reaction to news that Bobby Labonte will drive the newly-minted #96 Yates/HOF Ford Fusion.  The addition of Ask.com as both primary sponsor and NASCAR official sponsor is welcome news.  The Yates team now has to be looked at as one of the most-improved, from left for dead 2 years ago to a full 4-car lineup for the time being, sponsorship for the #'s 28 and 38 pending, of course.  This move is also surprising because based on what I had heard, Target had approved Labonte being their driver, and promo work had already been done with Labonte.  Upon evaluation, I guess a ride with Ford's second team is better than one with Chevy's third, fourth, or fifth, in some opinions.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Helio Castroneves Out Of Penske Ride - For Now

Story here. I like the choice of Will Power as the replacement, but disappointed he hadn't already had a ride lined up.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why I Love Open Competition

Two new deals are aiming to make their presence known in 2009.  This is why it isn't NASCAR's place to dictate who competes, who gets "saved" and who falls by the wayside.

Tommy Baldwin formed Tommy Baldwin Racing, planning on taking advantage of the economic downturn to enter the sport at a time when costs themselves are down.

Secondly, I saw this story tonight, a likely merger of Yates Racing and Hall of Fame Racing.  To add to that, the team is expected to acquire sponsorship from Ask.com for the upcoming season.  

See, this is why I've said time and time again, let the market forces work.  Baldwin's team will have lots of veteran team members.  Yates/HOF has solid driver base in Kvapil and Menard, and has lined up sponsorship from a new company.  NASCAR shouldn't franchise teams or pick favorites, and always remember that the sport will fix itself.  

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Doesn't Know What It Wants To Do

Merger.  Check.

Choose a name.  Check.

Get sponsorship.  No.

Hire 4th driver.  Um, check, I think.

The latest seems to be that Bobby Labonte will step into the #8 this season, with Montoya picking up Target sponsorship, and Almirola left holding a contract without a ride.  GanassEI is not off to a great start.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Gillett - Evernham - Petty PR

Petty Holdings & Gillett Evernham Motorsports To Form New Team
01.08.2009

STATESVILLE, N.C. – Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) and Petty Holdings announced today an agreement in principle to form a new NASCAR Sprint Cup team co-owned by Richard Petty, Petty Holdings, owned by majority shareholder Boston Ventures, and Gillett Evernham Motorsports.


The team will field four Dodge entries in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Details of the transaction are expected once the deal is closed. Petty and GEM officials anticipate a final agreement by the end of January.


Petty, a seven-time champion and owner of 200 Cup victories, said the new team secures the famed No. 43’s presence in NASCAR for years to come.


“I want to get back to winning and together we will bring the resources, technology and infrastructure to do that,” said Petty.


“This was a big decision for us but it’s something we really wanted to do. We hope everyone in the sport embraces what (GEM Co-owner) George (Gillett) and I are doing. Nothing is going to change for me. I’m going to be at the track every weekend and really involved with the teams and drivers back at the shop. We are very happy. George and I have a lot of work to do, but we have a plan and we’ll be ready for Daytona.”


Petty Enterprises is the winningest team in NASCAR history owning 268 Cup victories since 1949. Gillett said it is a privilege to help write a new chapter in the Petty family history.


“To join with Richard Petty and Petty Holdings is such an honor for me and my family,” said Gillett whose business interests also include ownership in the legendary Montreal Canadiens in the NHL and the English Premier League’s Liverpool FC soccer team. 


“Richard and I have gotten to know each other well over the last few years and both of us believe we have formed something that NASCAR fans will support. We plan to keep the Petty name in the forefront of NASCAR. We ask that all of the King’s fans join with us. Our goal is to get the cowboy hat and sunglasses back in victory lane.”


GEM has its own role in the history of NASCAR.


Ray Evernham, named by the media as the sport’s greatest crew chief of all time in 2006, created Evernham Motorsports in 1999 spearheading Dodge’s return to NASCAR. In 2007, Evernham partnered with Gillett to form GEM. The organization owns 15 victories and has consistently been one of the top performing teams in NASCAR.


“A lot has changed over the years in NASCAR but success still boils down to that cat holding the steering wheel and how he conducts himself both in and out of the car,” said Petty. “I really want to help these guys with their driving and their careers.”
 

Notes:

  • The new team plans to run a fourth Dodge in eight races in the 2009 season including the Budweiser Shootout with additional races contingent on sponsorship.
  • Ray Evernham retains a minority ownership role with the new team.
  • Richard Petty and Petty Holdings will continue to own and operate the Richard Petty Driving Experience as an independent entity.
  • Key Petty employees Robbie Loomis, Dale Inman and Brian Moffitt will also have active roles with the new team.
  • The new team will use the GEM race shops in Statesville, N.C. and engine shop in Concord, N.C.
  • GEM and Petty sponsors will continue with the new organization.

Additional Quotes

Kasey Kahne – “This is pretty exciting stuff. I’ve gotten to know Richard over my five years working with Dodge and I look forward to being around him more. This is pretty awesome. The Gilletts have done a fantastic job of putting this together. I think you can see their commitment to winning. We could have kept on the same path, but they made a pretty bold statement that they are here to win.”
 

Tom Reddin, GEM CEO – “We now have the greatest driver of all time and champion crew chiefs partnered with the business prowess of the Gillett family. We have a rock solid foundation for the future.”


David Zucker, CEO Petty Holdings – “Petty Holdings is thrilled with this partnership. This is two organizations coming together with one objective in mind – winning.”
 

Barry Baker, managing director of Boston Ventures and chairman of Petty Holdings – “We are excited about this transaction and believe it will continue to keep the Petty name at the forefront of motorsports for decades to come.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brad Keselowski, GoDaddy In For The Long Haul

So it would seem, as GoDaddy has signed up for 7 races this year with Brad Keselowski in Sprint Cup after a 2-race stint in 2008.  Brad will also have GoDaddy as his sponsor for 18 Nationwide Series races.

Brad did look impressive in the 2 races he drove the #25, and he stays within the rookie limit by competing in 7 races.  He looks to be the heir apparent to the #5 of Mark Martin, whether that menas half the year in 2010 or the full schedule, we shall see.

By law, I'm forced to post a GoDaddy commercial whenever the sponsorship is mentioned... I think you can figure out why.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Return Of Dakar Rally

This time, the rally takes place in South America.

A few other links before the race gets started.  Yes, Robby Gordon is once again competing.  Hopefully he gets the win this time.