There is only ONE Oklahoma

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Like it or not, Roger Penske is a Smart Businessman

Most of us knew this was coming, and with NASCAR’s official okie dokie, the 77 team (driven by Sam Hornish) will be given the #2 (driven by Kurt Busch) team’s owner points thus insuring the 77 a spot in the first 5 races in 2008. The #2 team will be guaranteed a spot as well by using the driver’s “past champion’s provisional’. Simply put, this a smart move and fully within the rules for Penske Racing to do. I have never liked the ‘Past Champion Provisional’ since the days of Darrel Waltrip’s abuse of the PCP in the late 90s, but that is not the point.

It has been interesting to read some of the reactions to this ruling and the common theme seems to be that ‘once again, NASCAR is changing their rules as they see fit’. That simply is not true as NASCAR in this instance is being very consistent and has changed nothing. That’s right, teams have had the right and ability to switch owner points for decades and has even been done recently. (See the GINN/DEI merger and the transferring of owner points from the #14 to the #15 team, thus giving the 15 team ‘top 35’ status.)

Even the 19 Spotter felt the need to give his two cents with his most recent post on the Sadler Fan Club Forum. Here is a portion of what ‘Spotterman’ had to say concerning Penske’s move:

“This opens the door for other teams with less than four teams to do the same thing next season. What does that mean? It means a guy like Bobby Labonte who has expressed an interest in leaving The Petty's doesn't have the value and opportunity to succeed (should he go to a new team such as RCR) as he would have prior to this ruling. Should JGR opt to pull this same strategy Tony Stewart would relinquish his points so that JGR could add a 4th team in 2009, which would devalue Bobby's position. See Dale Jarrett!”

I won’t even touch the ‘Labonte going to another team’ dealio as Griffin probably has a bit more inside info than most, but I do take issue with the ‘devaluation’ of other past champions.

1) Michael Waltrip hired DJ with the express intent on using that Champions Provisional. He was trying to manipulate the system, too. NASCAR changed it so that he could not use it all year long...and hindsight shows that DJ's car was not fast enough to make it in....many, many times.
2) Bobby Labonte was hired for the 'franchise' of an ex-champs provisional. They were happy and prepared to use it.
3) Terry Labonte has been hired by numerous teams over the past couple of years simply because of the use of the PCP. (See Hall of Fame Racing) Heck, even in the press conferences, this concept was mentioned.
4) Darrel Waltrip used the CPC for almost every race entry in a couple of seasons in the late ‘90s.
5) Why did the Wood Bothers hire Bill Elliott midway through last season again?

Griffin goes on to say:
“Dale Jarrett begins 2008 opting for a partial schedule and retirement. His plan was to run the first five races and then only come back to run the all star race. He didn't want to be the one to come back and bump guys out by utilizing his championship provisional. That's why he's running a few consecutive races then coming back for a non points race. This Hornish deal not only puts a thorn in his side, it also puts one in MWR's strategy to move Reuttiman over to the 44. Should Reuttiman make all of the races and be positioned higher in owner points I doubt you'll see him make the swap. What does that mean? It means UPS is struggling to develop and execute a marketing strategy (I would imagine) when their drivers and car owners could change... all because an open wheel guy with a big name came in with no points and the sanctioning body decided to make a ruling to lock him in and give him a chance to compete in races he may not otherwise have qualified.”

It is common knowledge that Elliott Sadler and Brett Griffin are friends and business partners with DJ, but it is just too dammed bad that DJ's and Mikey's (aka ‘Jet Fuel’) plans are all ruined. It is also just too bad that UPS may have to change their marketing strategy, as it was their choice to go with DJ. To top it all off, MWR was hoping to transfer DJ's points to Reutimann and this is somehow different than the Hornish/Busch swap? Simply put, it is not.

In defense of Griffin’s statement, he does quantify a bit with this:
“My feeling on this... on this particular set of circumstances I only hate it for Dale Jarrett! I'd rather see him go out like Brett Favre. Last year he played terrible and this year is MONEY!….. As far as Hornish is concerned... I think he's a wheel man and he'll race a lot better than he would have qualified.”

It’s all fine and dandy to be sentimental, but the problem lies when one lets those feeling sway your judgment for the over-all rules. In this case, NASCAR has not done that. Again, I think the Past Champion’s Provision rule stinks, and should be done away with. I have felt that way for over ten years. It is a rule that has been abused and taken advantage of.

In a last bit of irony, flash back to the 2003 All-Star race where you will see a driver racing only because of ‘transferring’ of an owner’s ‘win’. Sadler did not meet the entry criteria for the All-Star Race but was allowed because of the owner’s win the previous season. That win belonged to Ricky Rudd driving the Robert Yates #28 (who Sadler took over at the beginning of the 2003 season) in Infinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Brett's reaction would be if Kasey was a past champion and Elliott was taking over a team that was outside of the top 35 and needed 5 guaranteed starts?

Judging from the direction GEM has been going, I guess we won't have to worry about half of that hypothetical though.