Saturday, January 10, 2009

Some big pieces still missing in preseason puzzle

Now that everything seems to be settled with the merger of Gillett Evernham Motorsports and the race team formerly known as Petty Enterprises, the biggest question still hanging out there is what the merged Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is going to wind up looking like on the race track.

We know that Martin Truex Jr. will drive the No. 1 Chevrolets with Bass Pro Shops as the sponsor. Beyond that, though, everything else is just about a guess.

Juan Pablo Montoya will drive for the team, too. He told us on Sirius NASCAR Radio this week that he'll be in the No. 42 car, as he was last year when it was a Dodge. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will use Chevrolets.

My guess is that Montoya is going to wind up with Target as his primary sponsor. Target was on the No. 41 car last year and that car has loomed as the major open seat in the sport for the entire off-season. With drivers looking for jobs you would think that if something wasn't going on a driver would have been plugged into that slot by now.

I don't know if the 18-race deal Montoya had with Wrigley's might be combined somehow with the Target deal or if the Wrigley's money might be used on another of the merged team's cars. That's one we'll have to wait on.

When Bobby Labonte announced he had parted ways with Petty Enterprises and the No. 43 Dodges the logical move for him was Earnhardt Ganassi and that "open" 41 seat. Again, if it had been that simple it stands to reason he'd be there already.

What I've heard in the past 24 hours - but have not yet got confirmed from anybody connected well enough with the team for me to swear it's what is going to happen - is that Labonte will wind up in the No. 8 Chevrolets.

Don't know the sponsor, but I've also heard he'll be reunited with one of his former crew chiefs, Doug Randolph, in that deal.

Where does that leave Aric Almirola? Well, sort of in the same boat AJ Allmendinger is in, I reckon. I think Earnhardt Ganassi is trying to put together at least a part-time deal for the No. 41 that they hope could grow into something full time down the road for Almirola. That's what Allmendinger will wind up with if he agrees to go into the "fourth" Gillett-Petty car.

The other thing that's going to be interesting with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is to find out where the people who had the various leadership positions at Chip Ganassi Racing withi Felix Sabates and Dale Earnhardt Inc. will wind up in the new structure.

Every question you ask about the situation seems to wind up being referred to Ganassi, so you wonder the people from DEI like Max Siegel and John Story fit into the new structure. Or, at least I do.


Anonymous said...


They day Petty closed up was a sad one for me. I rooted for the King until he retired and then picke Jeff Gordon to follow. IMO old time Nascar died the day Petty closed their doors. I wonder how many fans will be disguised as empty seats this season?
I also wonder how this economy will affect peoples ability to afford race weekends? Lots of question this season!!!

Anonymous said...

John says that old time NASCAR "died the day Petty closed their doors."

It was time.

Anonymous said...

unfortunately, NASCAR passed the Petty organazation by a long time ago. I'm really suprised they last as long as they did without winning as much as a race. The same thing would happen to any present day team who fails to keep up.

Anonymous said...

PE has won 3 races in 24 years. Why, oh, why would anyone go to the race to watch this misery?

One of the most beloved stars of golf is Arnold Palmer. Whenever he makes appearances, fans just surround him. He is truly loved. Do I as a golf fan want to see him play? NO WAY JOSE!!

PE did not keep up with the times. They did not watch what others were doing as they other teams were catching up to PE.

They also did not recognize talent. Kurt was working as a cashier. PE coulc have taken him for a daonce. How about Edwards? Carl was going all over the garage just handing out cards. Carl even participated in Petty's driving experience. You talk about a gold mine under PE's nose. And PE just ignored it.

It's time for Petty to say good night.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Poole- Thank you. Very interesting and informative. You raise some intriguing questions.

Monkeesfan said...

Anonyous #4, Petty DID watch what others were doing and DID adapt - what ultimately killed the team was the same thing that forced the Earnhardt-Ganassi merger - the sprot priced ALL of them out of business.

Kurt Busch was not going to get picked up by anyone but Roush. Neither Petty nor anyone else was going to get him. Petty didn't ignore Carl Edwards, Roush bought him.

Get the facts straight, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Petty had the same opportunity to as RCR, Hendrick and Gibbs to move forward. That chose to live in the past and thats what did them in. They didn't plan to fail, they failed to plan.

Monkeesfan said...

Anon, no they didn't. RCR, Hendrick, and Gibbs had far more in the way of money and technology to move forward. Get the facts straight before you bring anything to the table.

Anonymous said...

Petty was around before the big four ever thought about getting into NASCAR. They chose not to be a leader but rather a follower and got left behind. Those are facts!

Anonymous said...

Well the musical chairs aren't over yet. That'sRacin Homepage headline re B Labonte still says 8 car.

Monkeesfan said...

With regard to Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing they may not even last the season.

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