Random thoughts while waiting on Stewart-Haas Racing to pick up my contract …
Target announced this week they were leaving Chip Ganassi Racing and Kyle Larson at the end of this season. The retailer has been backing Ganassi for something like 400 years in NASCAR (16 years) and Indy Car (27 years). Hell, Jimmy Spencer drove the Target car way back when Dodge was racing the Intrepid. Also, this week, Nielsen-media released its mid-year sponsor evaluations and Target’s sponsorship of Larson had the highest value in NASCAR at $111 million thus far in 2017.
I guess it’s just further proof that NASCAR’s value as an advertising vehicle is in free fall.
If you don’t believe the NCAA is stupid and has archaic rules, read about N.C. State’s newly committed point guard Braxton Beverly. The NCAA is forcing him to sit out a year because, get this, he went to summer class.
Many news outlets are reporting that Kurt Busch is out at Stewart-Haas Racing after this year, as his contract option is not being exercised for 2018. For their part, SHR is saying Busch will be back in the No. 41 Ford in 2018 (at least that’s what they are tweeting). The original story was based on an anonymous source within SHR. As someone who has been around journalism for a while, I think someone heard, and then told someone at NBC, that Busch’s contract wasn’t being renewed. However, as ESPN’s Bob Pockrass points out, they could still have a new deal – it might already be signed – to keep the current Daytona 500 champion at SHR. I’m going call this bad journalism.
Martinsville at night? I feel the same way about this as Cubs fans felt about adding lights to Wrigley back in the 1980s.
This week (busy week) NASCAR also announced new rules limiting the number of races full-time Cup drivers can run in Xfinity and trucks in 2018. The new rules put a lower cap on the number of races, building on a rule implemented this year. I get it. Look at the Xfinity Series winners this year. Thirteen of the 19 races run this year have been won by drivers with full-time Cup rides. It’s not a good situation to build talent.
However, and this doesn’t happen often, I agree with Kyle Busch. People come out to see the lower-tier races to see the stars and sponsors pony up bucks to have guys like Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano run cars and trucks with their logos on them. Often, those races can buoy those teams to run races with the younger drivers. It’s a tough situation for NASCAR – and one I am on the fence about – but one they are addressing in a measured way, which is good, if unlike them.
About the Xfinity and truck limit, Kyle Busch said if he couldn’t race in trucks, he would shutter up Kyle Busch Motorsports. I don’t disagree with him on that one either. Say what you want about Kyle – and I have – but he runs that team to have fun racing, because that is what he likes to do. Sure he beats up on some underfunded teams and young drivers, but he brings money into young drivers’ efforts and helps start their careers (see: Jones, Erik). So, if he wants to take his ball and go home if he can’t race, that’s his deal. This is America and he has that right.
I like Greg Olson. His new hat, not so much.
I am disappointed that Ryan Blaney is leaving the Wood Brothers. It has been really cool to see them have some good runs. Paul Menard is moving in, not because he is a good driver, but because he had daddy’s money. I guess there are worse things, but I liked seeing that team competitive.
Fourteen drivers have won NASCAR Cup races this year. Thirteen of those are in the Chase. Joey Logano, as of right now, is not because his win at Richmond in May was “encumbered,” which means there was some manner of cheating/rules infraction discovered after the race. There are five races before the playoffs and 16 drivers move on to battle it out. I wouldn’t be surprised if another driver, besides Logano, will have a win and not get in (looking at you Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne).
That would be kind of cool.
Andy Cagle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.