Every body loves an underdog. Think about where Dale Earnhardt started; it’s that humble start, and the fact he never forgot where he came from that was a part of what made him so compelling. In this day and age over the well-heeled “Super Teams,” it’d sure be cool to see another a la Alan Kulwicki crashng the party to make it interesting.
Fans of the underdog have a nice selection in 2010. Going in, it’s difficult to say whether there’s one with enough to upset the apple cart.
Phoenix Racing- Aric Almirola- #09
That he was running a winning race at the Milwaukee Mile in 2007 and was replaced in mid-race by Denny Hamlin is a microcosm of A.A.’s career. Almirola has been around the track quite a bit, but he’s just never had a real, honest-to-God chance.
I will watch with great interest to see what happens with this opportunity. One thing owner James Finch can say is his team has seen Victory Lane- with Brad Keselowski at Talladega last Spring. Here’s hoping Almirola gets his chance. Of concern is that the #09 may lose its sponsorship.
Robbie Gordon/ BAM Racing- #7
This jack of all trades has entered into an agreement with Beth Ann Morgenthau to help prop him up some in 2010. It will seem a little weird not to see Jim Beam on his hood this year. The pairing of driver and sponsor seemed like a natural.
OK- here’s one of those complicated deals: Gordon will run some races under the BAM banner, but will retain his #7, instead of BAM’s #49. David Gilliland, now at FRM, will actually pilot the #49 in the Daytona 500 only.
Reports indicate Gordon will turn to some of his other racing passions during the month of May, and we won’t be seeing much of Gordo.
Though he does things occasionally on the track that make me spit nails, I still like the guy. He manages to make the most out of what he has, and doesn’t really give a rip about a lot of the other stuff that distracts other drivers. When he’s racing for himself, he’ll be sponsored by Monster Energy Drink. When he’s running for BAM, Gordon will have a Warner Bros./ Larry The Cable Guy sponsorship. Git "’R’ Dun.
Latitude 43 Motorsports- Boris Said- #26
Yes, Boris Said and Company are going to give it a go for the first five races of 2010. The road course ringer has some plate track experience on top of his road resume, so the guy could make a go of it.
The challenge will be trying to “Mac Guyver” his way through the schedule. Said reportedly has just one motor to work with at Daytona, so there’s no room for error. It will be interesting to see what he can do. It will be fun to have the “Said Heads” out. The free-spirited cat looks a bit out of place in NASCAR, but that’s a part of the people. For my part, he has already shown the talent to be here.
Tommy Baldwin Racing- Mike Bliss, #36 & Johnny Sauter #35
I had really hoped 2009 would play out better for former Ward Burton crew chief Tommy Baldwin. Getting in races was difficult, and when they did, the car was often in the garage for good early in the race. Scott Riggs, Patrick Carpentier, Michael Mc Dowell and a seeming cast of thousands took the wheel.
Coming in to 2010, TBR has new drivers, and a new nameplate; the team will switch from Toyota to Chevy. If nothing else, Bliss and Sauter have shown adaptability in their careers, and it will serve them well here. Hopefully, having Wave Energy signed for a minimum of 18 races will at least have one worry off of Baldwin’s plate to put together a team that can compete.
Dusty Whitney- Terry Cook #46
Huh? That’s right, CWTS driver Terry Cook is a declared candidate for Rookie of The Year, and they plan to run Dodges purchased from Richard Petty. Like Baldwin and Jeremy Mayfield last year, you get the feeling this team is getting cobbled together on the fly, and as we speak, there’s a mad scramble to “meatball surgery” this puppy together.
Prism Motorsports- Dave Blaney, #66 & Michael Mc Dowell #55
The word here is there’ll be an effort to do less “starting and parking” in 2010. Phil Parsons and Company have allied with fellow Toyota team Michael Waltrip Racing and Pro Motors will be supplying the engines.
What is not known at this moment is if there’ll be a sponsor to put on the dark blue hoods of these cars. The difference will be cash flow, read that “sponsorship” as to how far this goes. There’s a lot of experience behind this team and that has to count for something.
PHOTO CREDITS- Aric Almirola by suzy_field, flickr.com. Robby Gordon, courtesy of Getty Images, Boris Said and Mike Bliss by Walter G. Arce, flickr.com. Johnny Sauter by cjacobs53 at flickr.com. Terry Cook and Dave Blaney by XSP Images at flickr.com. Michael Mc Dowell by plstt at flickr. com.