Monday, January 12, 2009

Playing the what-if game with NASCAR

I know that the "what if" game can be one of the most pointless things in the world, but NASCAR developments in the past month or so make it hard not to think about how different things might be if just a couple of things had gone a different way.

** If Adam Petty had not been killed in a practice session at New Hampshire International Speedway in 2000, how much easier would it have been for Petty Enterprises to maintain its racing identity in a way that's profoundly different from what form it will take as part of a merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports?

If Adam had demonstrated any aptitude at all in a Sprint Cup car, I think he would have be a rival for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in terms of popularity. Popular drivers at that level have a leg up when it comes to landing and keeping sponsors, and with solid sponsorship comes the kind of resources a team needs to run competitively.

** How different would things be, also, had Teresa Earnhardt gone for a deal that would have given Dale Earnhardt Jr. ownership of the team his father started?

It sounded like a far-fetched deal at the time. Why would Teresa Earnhardt give her stepson more than half of a team without Eanhardt Jr. paying for it? But, little more than a year later, that's precisely what happened when Tony Stewart got majority ownership of Haas-CNC Racing. Stewart's connection with the team increased its value to the point where everybody in the deal came out to the good, at least in theory.

It'd be hard to argue that the same thing wouldn't have happened at DEI, wouldn't it? Would DEI be better off than it is now? It certainly seems that way, at least.

** Hindsight is 20-20, of course, but boy, did I back the wrong horse Saturday night.

Originally I wanted to go to the Speedway Club at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series banquet for the 2008 season, but I was brought into the mix for covering the Carolina Panthers' NFL playoff game instead.

As it turned out, it looked like several of the Panthers had other engagements and didn't show up against the Arizona Cardinals. But that's another topic for another blog.

Ricky Weeks picked up $12,500 for winning his fifth straight Clash series title, nipping Dennis "Rambo" Franklin for the title.

Weeks won five races and had 14 top-five finishes. Three of his wins came in the season's six-race championshp series. Franklin had three wins and 13 top fives in his first Carolina Clash series season.

** The American Speed Association's Southeast Asphalt Tour has announced that it will wrap up its 2009 season at the seventh annual North South Shootout Nov. 5-7 at Concord Motorsport Park.

The race will become part of a weekend that already features one of the season's most anticipated races for open-wheel modifieds from up and down the East Coast.


Anonymous said...

All tater's no meat

Anonymous said...

Just a matter of time before Nascar is no longer. The big 3 will soon be the big 2, and with the Gov't handouts, the writing's on the wall for Auto companies to focus less on frivilous spending, such as sports sponsorships.
Who would of thought that Toyota has to save NASCAR, maybe Honda or Hyundai will come to the rescue when Ford finally folds. At least will have the HOF to remember the good times...

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt Teresa's pocketbook would be better off. Looks like Gnassi has swallowed DEI. Seigel and Story both sent packing. Seems a bit strange because DEI was much more competitive. In reality DEI is gone.

Anonymous said...

What if.What if you lost your job Mr. Poole.You have some nerve dragging Adam Petty into the news.
If you can't find any racing news to report then don't report.How can you compare Adam to Junior?
Do you think Adam would have drunken parties and listen to gangsta rap?Thiers alot of what-ifs.Like what if Tom Higgins never retired.We would have true,unbiased,and professional articles written about racing at the Observer.And if Adam was racing the only way you would write about him would be if he drove for the prison dodger that owns HMS.

Anonymous said...

While tragic is the loss of Adam Petty and the "what if" that we'll never know about what would be his racing career, this we do know: thousands of chronically ill children have had their lives enriched through the Victory Junction Gang Camp that was established in Adam's memory. That legacy transcends anything that he could have ever accomplished on the track.

Anonymous said...

The biggest what if: What if Dale Earnhardt hadn't been killed?

We would have had an old school racer with lugnuts enough to stand up to Brian France and say "no" when he does something else to splinter the sport.

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #6 - Dale Earnhardt never won a single policy battle with NASCAR. NASCAR didn't listen to Earnhardt because Earnhardt never said anything worth taking seriously.

Adam Petty's death was not why Petty Enterprises ultimately fell asunder - the sport's economic structure aided by Dodge's incompetent management is what killed it. Adam would not have helped the team keep sponsors, not when the sport's economics made it almost impossible to do so and not when Stuttgart tore up the One Team strategy Petty, Evernham, and Davis had formed when developing the Dodges (the same cooperation Petty and Davis had with Joe Gibbs when they ran Pontiacs and which helped make all three teams winners), focused the effort first on Ganassi and then on Penske, and in effect sabotaged cooperation between teams.

Nor would DEI be better if Junior had been given ownership by Teresa. Teresa is not why DEI faltered - the sport's economics killed it. Citing Tony Stewart buying out Gene Haas blithely assumes Tony can effectively run the team - an assumption one cannot make in an era of $30 million for one car spending.

"What if?" Coulda woulda shoulda.

Anonymous said...

Typical off-season fodder. Nothing to talk about so lets throw Mrs. Dale Earnhardt under the bus to be ripped to shreds once again. Classless Poole.

Anonymous said...

What would have happened if Davey Allison didn't get killed?

Sorry about the Panthers, but it could be worse, I'm a Browns fan.... "maybe next year..."

Anonymous said...

Since my tax money is directly financing GM, who is thru Chevy sponsoring Daytona, we should rename the race to the "Taxpayer 500"

Anonymous said...

Seem to be interesting thoughts to ponder. I do believe some of y'all are being too tough on Mr. Poole this time.

Anonymous said...

3:01 if this has points to ponder then your priorities are way out a whack.
Interesting points to ponder???

Anonymous said...

Here it is mid-January 2009.What if 10 years ago mid-January 1999,there was a group of fans,drivers,writers ,whoever,sitting around making predictions on what Nascar would be like in 10years.I don't think anyone would have predicted what it has come to today.Just something to think about.Predictions for 2019??

Anonymous said...

I would love to think Adam Petty could have saved Petty Racing. However, the Petty's lived in the past to long and let NASCAR pass them by. You can only live on your name so long. I'm afraid it might have already been to late by the time Adam came along.

Anonymous said...

There's no problem chatting about the "what ifs." I don't think that Adam would have even competed with Jr for popularity.

I remember that the reason Jr kind of became an instant start was because his dad was tragically killed. If Dale had not died, Jr would still have been in the background and Dale and Jeff might still be going toe to toe. When they competed head-to-head, Jeff won 52 to 23 races.

Adam was a great kid, but he never gardnered the hipe that Joey Logano did/does. As a matter of face, I think he would have had to endure harsher criticism than Jr has, for not winning more.

DEI made tons of $$$ when Jr was there. Mark Dyer, Pres of Motorsports Authenics said that for 2008, Jr still sold 40% of the NASCAR merchandise. Bud also left DEI. Both of these brought millions to DEI. Now HMS has the 3 best selling drivers, Jr, JJ (passed Jeff for #2), and Jeff Gordon.

For Teresa, pride goeth before the fall.

Monkeesfan said...

Gville8 - the Browns have Brad Seely on Mangina's coaching staff in 2009.

We need to stop with the myth that Petty lived in the past and that's why the team fell apart - the team was priced out of business by the sport's absurd business model.

Junior made millions in merchandising for DEI - it was nowhere near enough for the team given the $30 million per car budgetary reality of the sport. And Junior hasn't been that hot running JR Motorsports. We need to stop with the Woulda Coulda Shoulda with some of these raceteams.

Anonymous said...

good racing at the ROCK for thirty dollars or less

Anonymous said...

Monkeesfan, why is it so hard to accept the fact the Petty's let NASCAR pass them by. They were around long before any of the present day mega teams even thoght about getting into NASCAR. They chose to be a follower rather than a leader and got left behind. Get a grip Dude.

Anonymous said...

I cannot agree with you more on the Adam Petty fact. The kid was a gem. When I first started watching racing, I remember the day I found out about what happened to Adam. It was my first full year following racing (2000). I was only 10 years old; just 9 years younger than Adam. What you said in that article, is something I have said many times over the dinner table. Just sucks that even 9 years later, we have to wonder to ourselves...

Anonymous said...

Petty has always lived in the past. PE has been around 60 years and there is no evidence that Richard showed any leadership to improve the company.

HMS has only been around 25 years. When Rick came into the business, Richard was winning eveything, sponsors ran to him, he was making all the bucks.

Rick says that when he decided to go with a second car, people thought he was a fool. They said it would not work. Rick had an eye for talent. Jimmie Johnson was looking for a cup ride. Jimmie would have gone with anyone at the beginning.

Carl Edwards was paying to drive in the Petty Experience. Right under everyone's eye! He would walk up and down the garage handing out business cards.

Richard's own son left and drove for other owners for about 12 years. And yet Richard had a blind eye when it came to recognizing that not all great drivers come from a NASCAR family. Just look at Tony, Jeff, Carl, Kurt, Jimmie, etc.

Look who Petty was hiring at that time. If it had to do with money, he had more than HMS, Gibbs, Roush.

Anonymous said...


Not only did Dale Jr make millons for DEI, he also had a fully funded car which Bud also paid millions to DEI. When Jr left (and told Bud he would not need them), Bud did not wish to stay with DEI. Bud saw that the value of DEI had gone down the day Jr left, and they chose to go with GEM.

Anonymous said...

Good article on Petty on ESPN the Magazine.

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #21 - Budweiser thought the value of DEI dropped when Junior left. Nowhere in his Hendrick endeavor has Junior shown that he really made that company more valuable than it was.

Anonymous #17 - Petty reorganized the team top to bottom in the early 1990s to get it updated. They kept updating as best as they could and as their budget could allow them to.

When Hendrick came into the sport in 1984 Petty Enterprises was almost bankrupt and Richard (who almost drove for Hendrick, backing out because he was committed to Pontiac and Hendrick was with Chevrolet) was driving for Mike Curb. It is manifestly not true that Petty was winning everything and commanding all the sponsorships etc.

Rick was called a fool for going with two cars and he was - he exploded to nine wins in 1986 then all but collapsed and even retracted from three cars to two in the early 1990s. NASCAR saved his multicar fantasy by all but killing testing in that period.

Also, it was not Hendrick's eye for talent - Jimmie Johnson was under Herb Fishel's wing and as Hendrick had long become GM's designated champion Johnson was not going to be allowed to go anywhere else but Hendrick.

"Look at Tony, Carl, Kurt, etc." Where did Richard Petty have any shot at them? They were bought up by the money guy teams. Petty never had close to the same monies as Hendrick and company.

The mythmaking has got to stop.

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #18 - because it is manifestly not true. NASCAR didn't pass Petty by, it allowed Hendrick et al to price him and a lot of other teams out of contention. They were around longer but they were around when teams earned success instead of buying it. It was not Petty's place (or anyone else's) to try and keep up with Hendrick's spending, it was NASCAR's place to stop Hendrick's spending.

Anonymous said...

I've been a Petty fan since the Hemi & dragster days. In the 1980's and early 1990's PE was very successful and, in hindsight, chose to standpat and not take enough risks. PE always has been a business, the family business. RC, on the other hand, had almost nothing in the 1970's and chose to risk it all when he had the chance to get Earnhardt to take his place driving his car. Maybe making more changes and taking more risks would have allowed PE to survive. In any event, PE did outlast many other contemporaries like Holman Moody, Bud Moore, and Junior Johnson.

Anonymous said...

What if the COT never came about? What if the France family wasn't so greedy? What if's are just that what if's. Nascar is going to tank right along with the American car companies and why is that? GREED pure and simple. Our society has become nothing more than greedy people and for those that are not, well they are has beens. To sad to even speculate anymore. I hope it all comes back to kick the greedy right in the ass, puck Nascar it's a total joke anymore. You may as well start writing your books of the old days to put more money in your pocket because there just isn't any story you can post on here, racing related, that draws a whole lot of interest. You can talk how ticket prices are going down and the sport is looking to help the fan, we all know better now, so to the folks out there that made their millions, hire some people to come shine your trophy's because aside from that Nascar is going down the tubes. How's that for a what if?

Anonymous said...

Some people have drunk the Petty Kool_Aide so long, they will always make him bigger than life. Rest in Peace.

Monkeesfan said...

Richard In N.C. - RCR wasn't taking a risk with Earnhardt. Also, it was a far different economic era as far as the sport went - it was the era when start-up teams still could (and did) succeed.

When people talk about "they should have taken more risks, made more changes" just what risks & changes were they supposed to make? People keep ignoring that they became winners again in the latter 1990s - how does that not indicate that they did know how to make it work, that they did modernize as best they could?

And people keep ignoring the other teams that are being absorbed or folding - the "they didn't modernize" or "they didn't do this or that" argument is hot air when one sees how many teams are now disbanding or getting purchased in an era when team budgets escalated seemingly overnight into the hundred-million-dollar range.

Anonymous said...

I believe RC risked everything he had to get out of the car, put Ironhead in, and then tell Ironhead that going to Bud Moore was better for him (Dale E.). In any event, others in the early 1980's had the same opportunity as RC, but from nothing he eclipsed them all. PE, Junior, Bud Moore, and the Woods did not take the risks and make the investment to change with the times - but hindsight is always 20/20, and I'm still a Petty fan. RC succeeded despite having limited resources. Money alone has never been the answer for success - and PE is not the only team that failed to make the right decisions in hindsight.

Webpress Media said...

Lately I hear the "we missed a turn" or "if so and so wouldn't have run into me" or "we only missed it by 10 points" or blah, blah, blah. What happened to owning a loss and loving it to kick bootie next time? If it's even about the racing - fast cars, guys and gear shifts reek of testosterone....What if, it's just about getting the girl?

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