Is It Time For Kasey To Go?

by John Chapman on June 17, 2010 · 12 comments

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.

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.

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1 mkrcr June 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I don’t see how that could be a “win, win” for James Finch. As soon as the dance with the Devil is complete, and Kasey moves deeper into the fold, Hendrick will most likely cut funding and Finch will find himself in the same position as before, but with a slime that will forever haunt him.

2 dawg June 18, 2010 at 7:31 am

This is how I see it. James Finch has been a long time dedicated owner. He’s fielded cars in the Busch/Nationwide series for 20 years, with 12 victories. His best was ’01 when he & Spence had 3 wins. He had the recent improbable victory in Cup. This deal would allow him to live the dream for at least one season. Owner of a full time team with a top driver, & very good equipment. Who knows what 2012 would bring. Perhaps if they did really well, Rick might decide to keep this as a driver development team, or it might fit as a third Stewart-Haas car. Either way James gets one good season out of this, & we fans get to watch another team running full time, rather than a S & P team.

3 David Shupe June 18, 2010 at 9:14 am

May provide Hendrick a team so that he can continue to provide Mark Martin with a ride after the 2011 season…. and by the way, since all this mess about Kasey has come up, hasn’t all of Hendricks Teams started to slump, with Martin being the most affected

4 I Seize the Day June 18, 2010 at 9:14 am

If Im not mistaken, it was Reed Sorenson, not AJ Allmendinger that didn’t get paid last year. And maybe you failed to mention this on purpose, but Paul Menard is still with RPM. And he is very critical piece of the pie, as he brings in sponsorship

5 dawg June 18, 2010 at 10:07 am

@ Carpe Diem
I was primarily thinking about what they should do about Kasey. Didn’t even think of Reed, but I don’t think either of them got anything but a percentage of winnings, but I could be wrong. As for Paul, I fully expect him to go to a Chevrolet team next year. Maybe a change of Richards. Childress would be my guess.
As for not mentioning ANYTHING on purpose, forget it. One thing I am is up front. I pretty much say what I think. Too much sometimes.

6 J.J. June 18, 2010 at 10:51 am

Not surprised in the least about Kahne going to Finch next season–it was the only reasonable scenario given the contracts that all involved have. And speaking on contracts, that’s the precise reason Kahne won’t be leaving RPM this season–no doubt Kahne (via Bud) is obligated to stay even if Hendrick suddenly decided to fire JR or Martin and an opportunity became available at HMS.

As far as drivers to replace Kahne next season look for it to be Mears since RPM likes to settle for drivers (how bad does your career have to be that you get replaced by Reed Sorenson for a temp ride? I mean, really, how bad does it have to be? Geez.), besides didn’t RPM already take a shot with Sorenson? I forget, I mean you never see these backmarkers on TV unless they’re wrecking somebody…


I think the driver merry-go-round pretty much stops for a while after Kahne gets settled in and until Martin and/or JR leave Hendrick, once that happens there’ll be wholesale changes again and the circus will bring in new drivers (though from where is the question since relatively few from Nationwide seem up to the task of being a Cup drive)…

Maybe (and this seems like a real possibility) Menard (and his sponsorship dollars) will end up at Roush in the number 6 after all.

7 mrclause June 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I’ve always marveled at what Hendricks has accomplished since coming to NASCAR. But, now I think it’s time for NASCAR to step up and absolutely, without any question or doubt, eliminate any type of contract with Kasey. Everyone who isn’t an idiot knows Hendrick is going to be the force, the money, the controlling factor, in where ever Kasey drives next year. It’s not just obvious, it’s blatant. NASCAR needs to step in and prohibit this. It’s a joke and it will do no good to anything that’s left of the credibility of NASCAR. If Hendrick has to pay Kasey to not drive too bad for both. If Kasey has to settle for being a Nationwide driver instead of a cup driver for a year, too bad for both. Finch would be stupid to do a one year deal, he might benefit for that year, but, beyond that, nothing.
Hendrick has gotten a little to eager to protect and increase the dynasty he has created, it’s turned into greed. He made the deal with Kasey fully knowing the rules and is trying to get around them. Roush had to bend to the rules, now it’s Hendricks turn. NASCAR needs to grow a pair here, for once. What I fear is that Mark Martin, as big a team player as he is, will get dumped somehow by Hendrick. Hendrick and Kasey played their hand and only they should pay any price for their greed. Too many people are going to get played or hurt by this scenario and NA$CAR needs to stop it now, even with lawyers if need be.

8 dawg June 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm

@ JJ
I think the only reason that Bud would not let them replace Kasey now is if they absolutely have committed to go with Kasey.
I do think they need to put someone else in to try to build for next year.
If they wind up with Casey, they’re going to have to figure this out W/O my help. I’ll wash my hands of it. LOL

@ mrclause
What does Finch have now with the 09?
Funny you should mention NASCAR Credibility. That’s my favorite oxymoron!
BTW if your first name is Santa, we need to talk. I can be better, honest.

9 RMann5 June 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm

This is simple Kayne should not have given up his ride till after next year. Kayne had to have made that choice, it has nothing to do w/ Hendrick till 2012. But anyways rumor had martin co-owner at Finch for 2012 in Hendrick stuff bringing Go Daddy and share w/ Danica in 2013 add second team 2014. Kayne can shake the Finch team down next year then take the 5 in 2012, and use the year w/ Francis in a Hendrick Chevy.

10 leonard June 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Today I would tell E.Sadler here’s your check and see yah! I would put Dave Blaney in the car and go sleep good about it.Two people who need to be out of here for awhile are Sorensen and Sadler,let them see what they lost then someday they can screw their heads back on and come back better.Kasey will drive a good,honest,job no matter where he lands.If Jr. doesn’t make the Chase, see yah! to him too,get rid of the bars and b.s., and become dedicated a racer or go home and live on tee-shirt money until the Eurey’s resurrect you from the farm.

11 J.J. June 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Something I’m starting to wonder about: Since Nascar is convinced it needs to be like the stick and ball sorts, e.g a playoff system, a guaranteed field of players, a specific number of teams and owners, etc. etc. etc, I wonder if once a driver sings a contract with a team/owner if, like in other sports, that contract discusses things like: salary, bonuses, the number of public appearance a driver must make, a no cut clause, a no trade clause–


A no trade clause?

I wonder absent such a clause if a driver can be traded to another team for consideration and cash or even a driver and a sponsor to be named later?

And if a driver can be traded…

Ooooo… That last thing? Hmm… The “trade” possibilities boggles the mind.

12 Steve S June 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

A trade clause? That would never work because many contracts with sponsors are tied to a particular driver so there would be a three way deal that would be needed. And with all the sponsor appearances and commericals I really doubt it could work.

There should be rules that they can not sign deals or contracts until a deadline. Some of the discussions and distractions could be considered tampering in real sports leagues.

France works for Hendricks now anyway so nothing will be done unless France has to field a team to keep Kahne in shape till 2012.

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