By admin | September 16, 2011
By Richard Allen
It appears very likely that the relationship between driver Clint Bowyer and his team, Richard Childress Racing, is nearing its end. And if the reports of Sirius radio host Dave Moody and others are correct, it appears as though Bowyer will soon become a part of Michael Waltrip Racing with Five Hour Energy as a sponsor.
While there may well have been other sticking points between Bowyer and the Childress organization, the amount of sponsorship money available certainly seems to have been a major issue.
During his NASCAR career, Bowyer has distinguished himself as a solid driver. He has scored four Sprint Cup wins and qualified for the Chase for the Championship in three of his six full time seasons at the sport’s highest level. Bowyer also won the Nationwide Series title in 2008.
The above listed credentials seem to be those of a driver who would be in high demand by high profile teams if he were to become available. However, we have found out this ‘silly season’ that such is not exactly the case.
Early in the negotiation process many thought it a lock that Bowyer would stay with RCR. As it began to appear as if that might not be the case, only one team, Richard Petty Motorsports, looked to have very much interest in luring him away. Eventually, that possibility unraveled and the offer by RPM was rescinded.
When word began to spread on the various internet message boards and social networking sites Thursday night that Bowyer was heading for MWR, the response by many was that the driver’s career had suffered a serious setback.
While MWR has had a few moments of success, that organization is not nearly the caliber of RCR.
All that discussion caused this writer to consider the state of racing when a driver with a solid list of accomplishments who ought to be entering the prime years of his career at 32 years of age cannot land at least a 2nd or 3rd best car with a premier team. It appears as though driving talent has taken not only a backseat but has been moved to the trunk in a sport that has grown too dependant on the latest expensive technology and other superfluous gadgets.
Consider that Danica Patrick, who has one fuel mileage stretch Indycar win in her career but has starred in many television commercials for her sponsor, has essentially been handed a carte blanch ticket in NASCAR. After only 21 Nationwide Series starts which have netted only three top-10 finishes, she has signed to drive fulltime next year in the Nationwide Series and part time in the Sprint Cup Series for two teams that are essentially branches of powerful Hendrick Motorsports.
With those two examples provided, it seems clear what the best route to the top of this sport has become. Driving talent may garner some attention for an up and coming driver but there must be something that will hook a sponsor who is willing to pay the high priced bills.
If you were a car owner, who would you rather have behind the wheel of your race car, Danica Patrick or Clint Bowyer? If you want to have a shot at winning and making the Chase, it would seem to be an easy choice. However, no car owner who can’t pay the bills has won a title lately.
In the end, it is the fans who will pay the price as driving talent levels drop off in favor of salesmanship.
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