By admin | November 2, 2011
By Richard Allen
With a wave of recent announcements from various teams, it appears as though there will be a significant rise in the unemployment rate of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. These announcements are coming not only from smaller and less successful teams but also from the behemoth mega-teams who have proven race winning records.
Since the economy is not showing the signs of recovery that many corporations would like, they are scaling back on what might be considered frivolous spending. And with the rates demanded by Sprint Cup teams, sponsorship is one of those expenses easily written off.
In just the most recent days, Roush Fenway Racing has stated their intention to scale back from four cars to three in 2012. Package deliverer UPS, sponsor of RFR’s #6 Ford, will become an associate backer of Carl Edwards’ #99 rather than a primary sponsor.
As of now, RFR only has signed sponsorship for Edwards and the #16 car of Greg Biffle. The organization plans to field cars for 2003 Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth whether full sponsorship is found or not. However, running two cars without adequate sponsorship would be impossible. So, the #6 car will scaled back and driver David Ragan, who won earlier this year in Daytona, will be out of fulltime employment.
Another power team facing a similar situation as Roush Fenway Racing is that of Richard Childress Racing. Clint Bowyer, who just two weeks ago won in Talladega, had to be let go due to lack of sponsorship commitments for his #33 Chevrolet.
RCR also plans to cut from four teams to three on a fulltime basis by next season.
Bowyer recently signed with Michael Waltrip Racing with Five Hour Energy as a backer. With the announcement of their new driver’s arrival it appeared as though MWR was one organization that might experience expansion rather than contraction going into the coming campaign. However, word has just surfaced that such may not be the case after all.
Rumor has it that Mark Martin will move into MWR’s #00 car on a part-time basis in 2012. That moves a former fulltime car into the ranks of part-time. And, it moves driver David Reutimann into the ranks of unemployed. Apparently, this move was also sponsor driven as Aaron’s looks to cut costs by scaling back its NASCAR involvement.
Add to all of the above mentioned changes that earlier in the year Team Red Bull announced its pending departure from the sport at the end of this season. While it was already known that driver Kasey Kahne was only to be with that team temporarily, Brian Vickers was left looking for a place to go. And more, potential open seats for all of these abandoned drivers already mentioned have been eliminated.
The unfortunate result of all these moves is that a number of drivers, race winning drivers like Reutimann, Vickers and Ragan, will be looking for work and will have a very difficult time finding it.
And what’s more, for every driver out of work, there are scores more crew members looking for jobs who do not have the cash reserves of unemployed drivers to fall back on.
Elliott Sadler may have unknowingly begun a new trend when he moved from the Sprint Cup ranks to the Nationwide Series on a fulltime basis last year. There may very well be a number of others looking, or even hoping, to do the same thing very soon.
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