Whoever picks up Trevor Bayne will get a future star
When he recently signed a multiyear contract with the Michael Waltrip Racing organization, it included some caveats, including one that required full sponsorship.
So without guaranteed sponsorship for Bayne for the full 2011 season, it appears he is now a free man. From the sound of the interviews with him this weekend at Dover, he has run his last race for the Waltrip team.
But Waltrip's loss will be someone else's gain ... possibly Jack Roush's. Rumor is that Roush is the guy who wants to sign Bayne, and that would be a very smart move. An announcement on Bayne’s plans is expected early this week.
Whoever picks up Bayne will be getting a huge asset, both on and off the track. On the track, he’s probably the best young prospect on the market. Only 19, he has already been running up front on a regular basis in the Nationwide series against big-name Cup drivers with years more experience than him. He currently sits 7th in points, and has run side by side with Kyle Busch and others and shown he won’t back down. If he’s doing this at such a young age, for a team that isn’t the best in the garage, imagine what he could do as he matures and gets better cars.
Off the track, he’s very well-spoken and a marketer’s dream. I can see him bringing in some big sponsorship money if he starts to win races.
Perhaps most nervous of anyone should be the other young Roush drivers that currently make up the Nationwide stable. Roush said he would like to get Bayne, and does not currently "have an idle" Nationwide team. Colin Braun and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are both young drivers in the Roush organization who haven’t exactly got the biggest vote of confidence from Roush, and if the sponsorship is found for Bayne, one of them might be on the outs.
And if he did get Bayne into the Roush organization, I will guarantee you one thing: Bayne will be driving a Cup car for Roush or an affiliate in the near future, so David Ragan might want to get in gear.
Ragan gets new crew chief
Speaking of Ragan, he got a new crew chief this week. Drew Blickensderfer was pulled from the Carl Edwards Nationwide team and moved to the #6 Cup team to try and turn its misfortunes around. It’s badly needed, as Ragan has mostly struggled this year, and wants to get some momentum rolling before Daytona 2011.
Ragan admitted that things weren’t working out so well for the team, and change was needed.
“We were to a point where week-in and week-out we were working hard, but we just didn’t see much change,” he said frankly.
Elder Keselowski to Cup?
Speaking of frustrated teams, Brian Keselowski’s Nationwide run this has been mostly a start-and-park affair lately, and with purses being cut next year, he said he may just move the team up to Cup to keep the K Automotive team in operation.
“If we can't run Nationwide, I'd like to run Cup. I don't know, there's a lot of uncertainty. We've got three solid months to figure out what we're doing for next year. But if we get to January 1 and we don't know what we're doing, we're really behind the [eight] ball. It sounds like they're going to change the front ends of the Cup cars a little bit next year, so even the ones I already have would have to be worked on. I'd like to say that I will just run the Cup deal, because if nothing else I could just focus on one car, and the money over there is enough that I could afford to race the race.”
He said he’s disappointed with how things have gone so far this year, and racing has become pretty frustrating for the team.
“I never wanted to start a second team or a third team [in the Nationwide Series], I wanted to race. But it wasn't going to make business sense to do it. I'm getting kind of sick of it. It's getting to a point where it's really not any fun. We work really, really hard and you feel like racing isn't getting anywhere. You're just busting your butt and not getting anywhere, running 30th all day long.”
Whatever happens, I hope to see Brian racing somewhere and actually going the distance each week. I know that’s what he wants to do, and he has the talent to do well if the circumstances are right. Unfortunately, racing is a tough business if you don’t have big sponsor dollars behind you.
Someone’s in denial
My favorite story this week was that John Wes Townley has left the team he was driving for in Nationwide, RAB Racing, and his father’s company – Zaxby’s – was pulling their sponsorship. Apparently Tony Townley – father of the one-man wrecking crew known as John Wes Townley – said the decision was made due to poor performance by the team.
Earth to Tony: Did you ever think your son might be the problem. He’s 20 years old, and he’s got more wrecks on his resume than races.
If you don’t believe me, go to YouTube and search for John Wes Townley’s name.
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