A Turbulent Start to the NASCAR Off-Season

We’re just a week into the NASCAR off-season and the changes are coming fast and heavy.

Layoffs Around

The shoe hasn’t dropped everywhere just yet, but so far Roush Fenway has undertaken a massive layoff that we’ve heard was as many as 125 employees. This included many long-time Roush employees. What’s loyalty worth in this sport?

Yesterday, we heard there were layoffs at Turner Motorsports with more potentially on the way. Red Bull Racing has vowed to keep its people through the end of next week, but after that many more will join the unemployment line. We’ll see if anymore follow.

Crew Chief Changes

You win the championship, so what next? How about a crew chief change? That’s what Tony Stewart did Monday, booting Darian Grubb in favor of Steve Addington. Never mind it was Grubb’s call that put Stewart in a position to win the championship, and his leadership that helped the owner-driver to 11 wins, 33 top-fives, 59 top tens and three straight Chase appearances since 2009. Who wouldn’t have made a change, right?

Up at Richard Childress Racing, longtime Roush Fenway crew chief Drew Blickensderfer replaced Luke Lambert on top of the box for Jeff Burton. Lambert took over on an interim basis after the team released Todd Berrier earlier in the season. Blickensderfer has made the rounds through RFR including most recently as David Ragan’s Cup Series crew chief.

NASCAR Fines A Busch

Fining the Busch brothers is quickly becoming a favorite past time down in Daytona. After elder brother Kurt’s profanity laced tirade to an ESPN crew, NASCAR’s $50,000 penalty was probably warranted (here is the link to the video – fair warning there is language).

NASCAR though drew a line in the sand – it’s OK to physically go after Joe Menzer, which Busch did just a couple of months ago, but do not direct profanity at Dr. Jerry Punch.  In the future, Busch would be well suited to remember this simple mnemonic device: mess with Menzer, but don’t pull any Punchs.

Another handy tip would be to not attack media members, verbally or otherwise, when there are video cameras around.

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18 Responses to “A Turbulent Start to the NASCAR Off-Season”

  1. Fred says:

    Good point, but when are there not video cameras around anymore?

  2. Andrew says:

    I saw the video and Kurt calls Dr. Punch a mother f’er. That was very unfair. I honestly do not believe that Dr. Punch has ever had sex with Kurts mother.

  3. mr clause says:

    If he did there stands a good chance there would be one Busch brother with respect and decency.

  4. Tim S. says:

    Tony Stewart’s move didn’t make sense to me, either, but then again he’s Tony Stewart and I’m just Tim S. He has to know people will be watching him like a hawk and what they’ll say if he doesn’t repeat as champion. But being Tony Stewart, he probably doesn’t care.

  5. JPE says:

    Oh how if Dale Earnhardt, Neil Bonnett, or Bobby Hamilton were alive, they’d kick the candy asses of the Busch brothers from one end of the garage to the other. Note to Penske and Gibbs: these clowns need to be shown the door

  6. Yeah it has been an interesting off season if you can call it an off season. But none of this stuff is a big surprise to me especially when you consider the two crew chief moves have been rumored for weeks now.

    I like the Tony Stewart-Steve Addington combo at SHR, but I’m unsure about the Jeff Burton-Drew Blickensderfer mix. However something has to turn around for Jeff Burton, he just had a bad season in 2011.

    The layoffs were coming and Roush-Fenway Racing did the same last year too, but it is sad that RFR and other teams don’t have work for these people during the off season. Each team has to test and get ready for 2012, but at least its a short off season as teams will have to hire people back in earlier February to get ready for Daytona and 2012.

    But the coolest thing to happen had to be finally seeing NASCAR start to deal with Kurt Busch and him going off on others. Now I don’t believe that NASCAR has any right to go after drivers or teams for what they say on the radio during the race.

    But a driver verbally acting a media member or someone else at the track isn’t going to fly. A $50k fine is a good start, but its not about the money, but rather about delivering a message to drivers and teams that these actions wouldn’t be accepted. Of course it is NASCAR and you never can tell there lack of rules.

    When do teams get to fine NASCAR for inconsistency and lack of judgement in other areas?

    The public fine got sponsor Shell-Pennzoil’s attention, but I wonder how much and what will happen? Now I wonder what’s next?

  7. Joe K says:

    Kurt Busch should have been fired. If I had ever done anything even remotely close to that language at my workplace my employment would have ended before the hour was up. No one should have to be subjected to that from anyone under any civilized circumstances. Shell and Penske Racing also do not look good in this as they are basically condoning his actions. I will now rather let myself run out of gas rather than purchase Shell gas if needed.

  8. Neon says:

    Note to Joe K: With that purchasing strategy in mind, next time after filling up your daily drivers tank at your local station, other than Shell of course, you should immediately start feathering the throttle, cut off the ignition at red lights and draft other vehicles (especially 18 wheelers). While all others are forced to stop at Shell, you can stay on the road longer and pit at a station of your choosing like Sunoco!

    Addington must be a glutton for punishment. First he has to put up w/ Kryle’s whining at the #18, then Kurt’s mouth at the #22 and now Smoke make have choice words when not winning.

  9. Jon L. says:

    I really dislike both Busch brothers. They need to grow up and stop being idiots.

  10. Joe K says:

    Note to Neon:

    I have tried drafting on the 18 wheeelers, they tend not to appreciate it to much. Thanks for the advice though.

  11. run24guy says:

    Man, I was pulling for Tony down the stretch bc it was a great underdog story (plus, while everyone talks about what a nice guy Edwards is, all I can ever remember is his juvenile off-track run-in w Kenseth a few years back). But canning your crew chief after winning the championship, esp when he made some key calls? Dick move, Tony. Dick move. Heres hoping Grubb goes back to HMS and Rick closes the “open book” policy on Tony.

  12. Doug in CA says:

    I wonder when or if we’ll ever know the real reason behind the Grubb firing. run24guy, it’s a business, and Hendrick knows it, as does Stewart, as does Grubb. Stewart makes money for Hendrick. Grubb makes money for Hendrick. Grubb makes money for Stewart. Hendrick and Stewart make money for Grubb! Everybody wins! There’s too much money for little things like job changes to mess with the system.

    Good going, Kurt! Kyle, you paying attention?

  13. Matt says:

    Hope you guys are ok, it’s been quiet here. Last season you guys took some time off in December and starting posting again on the 15th. Hopefully there will be some new posts next week, as a lot has happened since November, and I’m interested in your take on all this.

  14. safemike1 says:

    C’mon guys! Even President Obama doesn’t take this much vacation!! We are addicts and are in deep need of a Nascar Insiders fix!!

  15. safemike1 says:

    I woke up this morning and barely made it to my computer. My hands are starting to shake and I sweat is pouring from my forehead uncontrollably. Oh no!! I am actually looking up Dr. Drew’s phone number. . . . .Hurry guys. . . . . I am not sure how much longer I can go without getting a morning dose of NASCAR Insiders!! . . . .Dad. . . .Is that you? . . . .I think I am starting to hallucinate. . . . .Please hurry back Journo, T.C. . . . . .

  16. Goober22 says:

    Looks like the “Insiders” must have been part of the Nascar layoffs! :)

    No updates at all over the AJ, Kurt, open 43 seat round-robin. Not to mention the Kyle “won’t play” story in trucks and poss NW series.

  17. eric says:

    Cant believe all thats happened since Nov 29th…. Ill be interested to see your takes on everything when you get back.

  18. safemike1 says:

    OK boys. I get out of TNI rehab next week. I hope you are back up and running by then, or all that time spent in rehab was for nothing!! My hands are shaking and sweat is running like a river off my forehead while writing this as it is. No TNI for several weeks makes me weak!!! Oops. . . . . gotta go. . . . the counselor is coming and he will make me start all over if he sees me writi. . . .Damn!!! What?” No sir. . .I am not writing to those guys again. . . .

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