We all know the deal, but not the details, right? Kasey is bailing on RPM after this season, and moving into the 5 car for Slick Rick when Mark vacates the seat AFTER next season. OK, that’s a little strange, but as drivers like to say "It is what it is." The question everyone’s asking is where will he spend next season?
We may have gotten the answer already. James Finch- owner of the “09”- recently said that he was either going to “sell, or fold the team due to money issues." Now it looks like Rick might basically add the team to his operation, under Finch’s (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) ownership as Kasey’s 2011 home. I think that would be a win-win. It could take what is essentially a “start and park” team, and turn it into a competitive team. So far so good.
Most everything I’ve read about this has been focused on what Kasey- and by extension Hendrick- are going to do. Let’s turn it around and look at RPM. This is a team in big trouble. They’ve just lost their only star. We’ve all heard the interviews when a driver announces that he’s leaving a team.
It usually goes something like this….
Talking Head: "How will this effect the rest of your season? Driver: "I’m totally focused on winning, a race, making the chase, or winning a championship," (take your choice) etc.,etc.,etc.
What I think I hear, when I hear this speech, is……”I’m totally focused on running well enough to convince my sponsor to leave with me!”
With Kasey gone, that leaves Elliott Sadler and A.J. Allmendinger. Elliott in a 13 year career has 3 wins in 407 starts, with only 19 top 5s. Not exactly team leader stats. In fact, it’s extremely unlikely that he’ll be in the car next season. A.J. ‘s been coming on strong this season, but he can’t carry the entire load.
In business, and make no mistake, big time racing is a business,
when one of your key people gives notice that they’re leaving to join one of your competitors, what happens? You have security watch carefully while they clean out their desk, and escort them off the property, that’s what. I don’t know if Inbev has made a decision about it’s sponsorship, but it looks to me like if RPM wants’ to have much future beyond this year, they need to be proactive.
Here’s my recommendation: I’d take Kasey out of the car immediately. They probably will have to pay him, but they don’t have to play him. That’s ironic, because they didn’t pay A.J. last year, go figure. I’d grab Dave Blaney for the rest of the season. Use him to audition for the ride, as well to attempt to keep Bud, or find a replacement. It’s no easy task. If they decide to cut Elliott loose- almost a certainty- then they could use a young, up and
comer, but they need stability. I think Dave could provide it. He’s
always been better than his equipment. I understand that the chase is a driver’s championship, and that Kasey MIGHT make it in. If they changed, that’s out the window. I think the long term
rewards outweigh the short term risk.
This would also depend on Inbev. If they are committed to staying, then they should see the advantages. If they are bailing also, then it might not matter, depending on how the contract is written. If they do nothing, and just let Kasey ride out the season, remaining viable will be much harder. While the Gilletts may not be my favorite owners, the last thing NASCAR needs at this time is to see another team fade away.
Some other random thoughts…
I’ve enjoyed TNT showing racing for position, rather just showing the leader logging laps. Congratulations to Team Audi, sweeping the top 4 spots at the 24
Hours of Le Mans, and to Mike Rockenfeller, being on the winning team, at Le Mans, as well as the 24 Hours of Daytona. That’s why I drive a TDI Diesel.
I’ve enjoyed TNT showing racing for position, rather just showing the leader logging laps.
Congratulations to Team Audi, sweeping the top 4 spots at the 24
Anyone else noticed that F1 seems to have gotten a lot "Racier this season? They reported a sellout at Montreal, even at F-1 prices. Eat your heart out NASCAR.