Icommentary:/I This Is Just Silly

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NASCAR’s “Silly Season” has yet to hit full stride, but there have been a few rumblings already at the halfway point of the season.

Some Winston Cup and Busch Series teams and sponsors are already getting twitchy, and it might not be long until you see some major changes in the lineups made. Crew chiefs and drivers will change teams, some will be forced to search for employment, and sponsors will either get out of the business or look for a team where they feel they can get more bang for their buck.

It happens every year, so it’s inevitable. And it’s also entertaining to see what might happen next.

In the Winston Cup Series, it’s already been announced that Melling Racing will lose Kodiak as the sponsor of Stacy Compton’s No. 92 Dodge. Amoco is out after this year as Dave Blaney’s sponsor, as is Oakwood Homes as the sponsor of the No. 33 Andy Petree Racing Chevy.

McDonald’s and the No. 96 Ford at PPI Racing are taking a couple of weeks off and won’t be at the track at New Hampshire or Pocono. Look for some big news there over the next few weeks as to what the sponsor’s plans are.

And don’t be surprised if there are some big rumblings in the Petty camp over the next couple of months or so. Performance-wise, those three cars just aren’t getting it done.

Mike Skinner’s days at Richard Childress Racing are numbered. He’s hurt right now after a terrible accident at Chicago last weekend, but if he weren’t doing so well in Childress’ No. 21 Busch car, he probably would have been out of the seat of the No. 31 Lowe’s Chevy weeks ago.

And let’s not even talk about the Morgan-McClure Motorsports situation. Driver Kevin Lepage and crew chief Scott Eggleston obviously were not the answers for that fiasco. Things have not improved at all since Robby Gordon was fired earlier this year.

Same goes for the situation at Ultra Motorsports. Mike Wallace in. Mike Wallace out. Mike Wallace back in. Mike Wallace back out. Robby Gordon in for a couple of races… blah, blah, blah. NationsRent can’t be happy with that at all.

The Busch Series picture is a bit more clouded. With sponsors dropping out left and right, it’s going to be interesting to see which teams won’t even be around next year, and what teams are around will be fighting for whatever sponsorship dollars are out there.

Upon losing its championship driver, Jeff Green, to the Winston Cup Series next year, ppc Racing took the high road and will hire NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points leader Scott Riggs to pilot the No. 10 Nesquik Taurus, beginning next year. Good choice, no doubt about it. Riggs is one of the up-and-coming young drivers and should carry on the winning tradition of that team.

Jeff Purvis is looking for full-time employment, and that’s a shame. Purvis is a good driver that can not only consistently run in the Top 10, but can finish in the Top 5 of the overall points standings during the year. He’s proven that in the past.

Kleenex and the Scott Brand of Products certainly can’t be happy with the performance of Randy LaJoie and that team this year. After moving over to NEMCO Motorsports with high hopes, LaJoie is 10th in the points with only five top-10 finishes in 19 races.

Bobby Hamilton Jr. started out with promise this year, but his season has quickly hit the skids. After a 41st-place finish at Chicagoland last weekend, Hamilton Jr. is 19th in the points with only four top-10 finishes. Dr. Pepper might be thinking about re-evaluation of its sponsorship plans for the 2002 campaign.

None of Cicci-Welliver’s teams have been outstanding this year. Tim Fedewa lost his job as the driver of the No. 66 Chevy a few weeks back, and Geoffrey Bodine hasn’t burned it up since getting behind the wheel. David Green’s efforts have been mediocre this year at best, and with the exception of the victory at California Speedway, Hank Parker Jr.’s team hasn’t been at its best.

Team Marines and Rensi Motorsports have had a disastrous season. A change in drivers earlier this year did nothing to help the situation as David Donohue has been struggling mightily for a couple of months.

Excedrin will most likely leave Herzog Motorsports, unless they can find a standout driver to replace Jimmie Johnson, who will drive a Winston Cup car next year for Hendrick Motorsports.

It’s already been rumored this year that Kevin Grubb was to be booted from the seat of the No. 37 Brewco Motorsports Chevy. That still might happen, but not if Grubb and the team can pick up their results over the next few months.

Others on shaky ground: Jay Sauter in the No. 43 Chevy; Rich Bickle in the No. 59 Chevy; Chad Little in the No. 74 Chevy; and Shane Hall in the No. 63 Ford.

The rumor that Greg Biffle would leave Roush Racing has also been brought up. Don’t look for that to happen anytime soon. Biffle loves it at Roush and he’s making his owner proud. He’s running second in the Busch Series points standings and could challenge Kevin Harvick for the title before it’s all over.

Here’s a few suggestions for some of the teams and sponsors out there (my own ideas, however outlandish some seem):

Reality: Skinner is obviously out at RCR.
My suggestion: Childress should go out and get Matt Kenseth or Jeff Burton. Both have been adamant about not leaving Roush, but deals can be worked out. We’ve seen in it the past.

Reality: McDonald’s made a mistake by going with a first-year fledgling team at PPI Motorsports. The team just hasn’t been able to get it going, and there are no indications of things getting any better.
My suggestion: McDonald’s should take its big money over to a contender. While Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney aren’t exactly championship contenders, they are with solid organizations that can become top-10 and top-five contenders with some big bucks behind them.

Reality: Petty Enterprises is just horrible right now, performance-wise, and that’s a shame. We all know John Andretti can drive, but the finishes just aren’t there.
My suggestion: Drop Buckshot Jones. He’ll never run up front in the Winston Cup Series. Perhaps bring in someone like Travis Kvapil. He’s a hungry rookie in the Craftsman Truck Series, and he’s got a bright future in the sport.

Reality: Jeff Purvis is out of a full-time job right now.
My suggestion: Tommy Baldwin, the crew chief of the Ward Burton’s Dodge at Bills Davis Racing, is starting a Busch team next year. Go out and get Purvis, immediately, before someone like Childress snaps him up to drive the No. 2 Chevy, which will be vacated at the end of the year by Harvick.

Reality: Kleenex and Scott Brand have won races before, and want to do it again.
My suggestion: Take your sponsorship dollars over to Joe Gibbs Racing for their second car. If a sponsor is found, a top-notch driver will be found, without a doubt. Purvis back at Gibbs, perhaps?

Reality: Tim Fedewa is also currently searching for a full-time ride.
My suggestion: Fedewa’s a proven winner. Put him in the No. 92 Herzog Motorsports Chevy and maybe Excedrin will stay as the sponsor.

Again, these are only suggestions. What will really happen is a toss-up, but again, it will be entertaining. Sit back and enjoy “Silly Season.”

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