Watkins Glen Garage Chatter

The Watkins Glen road course provided some great racing this weekend, but while the action on track was interesting, so were some of the rumors floating around the garage.  We heard a few different bits this weekend that we wanted to share, and I figured I’d weigh in on them with some of my own thoughts.

First up, we reported on Twitter (follow us @nascarinsider) yesterday that we’d heard NASCAR took a box of lugnuts from Marcos Ambrose’s Nationwide Series team during the race.  Word is that they were illegal in some way.  Don’t be surprised if the team is penalized this week.  I don’t expect NASCAR will take the win away however.  Quick Update: Scenedaily.com’s Kenny Bruce reported via his Twitter page that NASCAR did indeed take lugnuts from the #47, but later decided there was no issue.

The most ridiculous rumor that we’ve heard on a few different occasions recently, is that Red Bull Racing is shutting down at the end of the season.  I know the team’s performance has been abysmal this season, and question marks surround both of the team’s normal drivers, Brian Vickers and Scott Speed, but this is one I just don’t believe.  There was even a report late this evening that Red Bull may be where Kasey Kahne ends up for the 2011 season.  Some major changes are probably in order for this team internally, but don’t expect them to close down any time soon.

While Red Bull’s future is probably safe, we have heard that Kevin Conway’s days might be numbered at Front Row Motorsports.  It sounds like the team has grown tired of Conway’s poor performance, and this group will struggle mightily to make races if the #34 falls out of the top 35 in owners points.  They are currently 35th in the standings, only 182 points ahead of 36th.  A few more bad finishes, and Conway will be on the outside looking in.  To this point in the season, Conway has had a guaranteed starting position in every race, due to some fancy number wrangling by owner Bob Jenkins.  With one team already outside the top 35 however, thanks to the tire debacle at Pocono earlier in the year, Jenkins can’t afford to have another team fall out.  Word is that Extenze would continue sponsoring the team, but another yet-to-be-named driver would be brought in.

Richard Petty Motorsports officially announced on Friday that AJ Allmendinger had signed a multi-year agreement to remain the driver of the #43 Ford.  With that settled, a number of other questions still plague this organization; namely sponsors and other drivers.  With the rumblings that Paul Menard is taking his family sponsor to RCR, Kahne’s known departure for Hendrick, and Elliott Sadler’s apparent dissatisfaction, Allmendinger is short a few teammates for 2011.  We are still hearing that Ambrose will probably end up in either the #9 or #19 next season, and a deal may be close between the two parties, pending sponsorship.  Another name that has popped up as a potential replacement for RPM next season is Aric Almirola.  Almirola has revived what appeared to be a fading career this season with a strong NCWTS campaign to this point that currently includes two wins.  The young driver also impressed folks a few weeks ago with a third place finish at ORP driving for JR Motorsports #88 NNS team.  If the team can find sponsorship, Almirola would be a decent addition.

Like I wrote on Friday, it’s certainly been a crazy Silly Season, and there are still plenty of dominoes left to fall.  It will certainly be fun to see what plays out.

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18 Responses to “Watkins Glen Garage Chatter”

  1. Keith_KaGee says:

    The Red Bull rumor has been floating for over a week now. Tied into that is Brian Vickers may not be medically cleared to return in 2011. In fact his career as a driver may be over.

  2. Marcus says:

    Another rumor I heard/read on Jayski: Robby Gordon is going to be filing a lawsuit against BAM Racing and Warner Bros. for a breach of contract. And that they are obviously splitting apart from eachother. Just found that interesting and wondered if you guys knew that.

  3. Melissa says:

    Interesting tidbit about Conway. While it can be said that his performance hasn’t been stellar, neither has his teammates’ performances either, based on average finishing position.

    Driver Avg. Points (finishing position)
    Gilliland 78.61 (28th)
    Kvapil 73.43 (30th)
    Conway 68.52 (31st – 32nd)

  4. B Knotts says:

    It’d be a shame if Conway wins ROTY and loses his ride at the same time. Seems like a nice guy, and he is showing some improvement. However, he really should have been in Nationwide longer, to learn these tracks.

  5. Marc says:

    Melissa is right. I was thinking that the three Front Row Motorsports teams seem to run back-to-back-to-back every week. At Watkins Glen, they finished 27-29-30 (with JJ at 28). Pocono: 29-30-31. Chicago: 31-32-33. There are exceptions, and usually Conway is last of the three, but Conway has improved his performance on the track from earlier in the year when they kept having to switch the drivers around, and he now does well to stick with his veteran teammates. Jenkins has limited funding and their finishes reflect that. On average, they finish at the back of the pack of the cars that run the whole race. They stay out of trouble and don’t try to get more out than their equipment can give. They are ahead of the more poorly funded #26 about even with Robby Gordon despite having what is probably slightly inferior equipment. Unless they are giving Conway better cars than Gilliland and Kvapil, they should be satisfied with their runs and look for more sponsorship for 2011.

  6. Big Mike says:

    I don’t know how many times this has to come up, but each and everytime this driver has been called upon he’s saved a team and moved them up in the owner points. I’m talking about Scott Riggs. Scott saved Ryan Newman from starting off the 2009 season outside the top 35 by moving the team up from 40th to 33d in the standings when he could have rolled over and let it ride. He didn’t even though he knew he was out of a ride at the end of the year.

    He moved a sick team at RAB Racing into the top 15 in owner points after John Wes Townley had headed RAB in the other direction.

    He qualified Keyed Up Motor Sports into a Cup race after Casey Mears failed to 5 times. Scott finished a respectable 27th after a one race stint before the team closed down.

    Then recently he drove the #21 Zaxby Chevy for RCR in the Nationwide Series and had two top #10′s back to back. He moved Richard up to 14th in owner points from 22d in two weeks…

    Scott has won in ARCA, Camping World, Nationwide for a total of 10 wins. He has three Cup poles, a Nextel Open win, and finished 10th in the All Star event….at 39 he has plenty of fire left to get the job done.

    If Bob Jenkins wants to stay in the top 35…better hire Scott….

  7. Garry says:

    Red Bull dominates in F1 racing. The two Red Bull cars ALWAYS seem to run 1-2 ( or at least TOP 5) so they can not be happy that they are not doing as well in NASCAR.

    I think it cost A LOT more money to race F1 than NASCAR, so it cant be money. I wonder what it is.

  8. Marcus says:

    Silly Season Revs up again! According to Jayski, Casey Mears will be the new driver of the #13 GEICO Toyota fielded by Germain Racing. Papis is out. Well sorta. He will aparently drive full time in the trucks for Germain running the #9 GEICO Toyota. This starts at Atlanta. Michigan and Bristol will be start and parks with TBA drivers.

  9. Richard in N.C. says:

    I can’t help myself. How in the world could you possibly have illegal lugnuts?

  10. Twister says:

    I agree with Bige Mike, It is weird that he(Scott) is not in a car. He has done more than expected for under-achieving teams, and with RCR equipment 2 top ten’s,

  11. Ahmed says:

    Big Mike said it all, if the team wants to stay in the top 35, hire Scott Riggs. Riggs had a lot great history and he can take care of the equipment, so the team won’t worry about fixing the car after each race.. and Riggs can finish great if he got the right car and i believe this team has the right car for Scott Riggs.

    So, Bob Jenkins, hire Scott Riggs, and believe me you won’t get disappointed…

  12. Rusty Shackelford says:

    Agree with Bike Mike about Scott Riggs, who I’ve always liked and always felt got a raw deal in the Cup series. Yes, his first two years (04 and 05) saw a slower start than some other rookies, but he really came on in 06 and looked poised to start winning races – that is until Evernham motorsports got behind on their cars and data in 2007 and the rest is history. The fact that he didn’t break into cup until his mid 30′s probably hurt him as well. I’m not saying the guy was going to win multiple championships, but he has the talent and the drive to be competitive in the Cup series and might have had a few wins under his belt by now had things gone differently. Coulda should woulda, I get it – but if there was ever a guy in recent memory who came as close as you could to breaking through without it happening, it’s Riggs. And much of what happened to him that hurt him was out of his control.

    As Mike says, if anybody can help keep an underfunded team in the Top 35, it’s Riggs.

  13. Mike D says:

    That is rediculous front row is going to dump conway. What do they want him to do win races? they cant! their equipment isnt up to par with the other teams so how do they expect him to be consistent.

  14. Tim S. says:

    Menard to RCR is a head-scratcher. He seemed to finally be putting a little something together performance-wise. Maybe Childress lowballed them on the dollar amount. Wonder what makes Childress think he can field four competitive teams next year when he couldn’t last year.

  15. Alex says:

    To Keith_KaGee. why do you think Brian Vickers is done?? there is no official word yet, and I do think Brian will be back in 2011. and there could be a 3rd for red bull next year, like the 81 or 84 red bull toyota. and I do agree Scott Riggs should get a ride, and Scott Wimmer needs one too.

  16. Ed Nelson says:

    I agree with Big Mike. Scott Riggs has helped team after team. Want to stay in the top 35 Scott is the best bet going. Don’t want to replace car after car, Scott is your man. I know sponsors want youth, but to us 65 year olds he is a youth!

  17. Rich ( in Kentucky ) says:

    The best driver ( on the sideline) is Scott Riggs. There is no argument here. The “fire” inside his heart has ( in the short term) hurt his chances to land a good ride……. Once Andy P. threw him under the bus ….It’s been hard to recover….. Come on owners …. Sign this man to a long term contract. ANY money spent on this guy will come back 10 fold. Any questions ???? sign him now !!!!

  18. wesley says:

    Well again people print things before doing any research. Conway is the only driver @ FRM that has sponsorship. The other two are driving on the owners dime. If FRM was truely worried about finishes they’d have someone trying to get some more cash in the door. They would also be getting some new equipment no body would finish well in 2 year old cars. If Conway were a thinking man he’d be thinking about driving for someone else in 2011. Or at least tell Mr Jenkins to quit trying to run three teams on one teams budget.

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