Tag:Phoenix Racing
Posted on: January 9, 2012 11:17 am
Edited on: January 10, 2012 7:31 am

Kurt Busch plans limited Nationwide schedule

By Pete Pistone

Phoenix Racing announced it would field a limited Nationwide Series schedule for its new Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch in 2012.

In addition to Busch running the full Cup schedule in the team's No. 51 Chevrolet, he'll also pilot the Phoenix No. 1 entry in select Nationwide Series events this coming season.

The team continues to search for sponsorship on both cars.

"Everyone at Phoenix Racing is excited about competing on the Nationwide circuit this year," said Steve Barkdoll, General Manager of Phoenix Racing. "Our Nationwide Series team is a proven, winning organization  and we're looking forward to Busch continuing the tradition. This is a great opportunity for a company to partner with a top-notch program."

Phoenix Racing has 12 Nationwide wins since it began competing in the series in 1989.

There is still speculation Busch will also compete in a Nationwide Series schedule for his brother's team at Kyle Busch Motorsports.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 5:08 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 11:17 am

2012 Sprint Cup Series driver changes

By Pete Pistone

Fans won't be able to tell the players - or in this case drivers - without a scorecard this coming Sprint Cup Series season. There have been numerous driver changes, swaps and movement since the final checkered flag of 2011 flew at Homestead last November.

You can keep up with all the new faces in new places right here, which will be updated regularly as more changes take place:

No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

In: Kasey Kahne comes over after a one year run at Red Bull Racing to take the reigns of the No. 5 Chevy, which will sport Farmer’s Insurance as its primary sponsor. Kahne signed the deal in 2010 but with nowhere to go in his four-car stable, team owner Rick Hendrick brokered a deal with Red Bull for last season. 

Out: Mark Martin ended his Hendrick tenure at the end of last season with a disappointing performance. Martin has moved on to Michael Waltrip Racing for 2012. 

Our Take: Kahne comes to Hendrick with Kenny Francis and the duo has become one of the best driver-crew chief combos in the Sprint Cup Series. They ended their Red Bull careers on a hot streak and bring that same momentum and confidence to the potent Hendrick organization.

No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

In: Clint Bowyer joins MWR after his successful career at Richard Childress Racing. Sponsor 5-Hour Energy will back the entry for the majority of the season and talented crew chief Brian Pattie comes on board to call the shots after leaving Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. 

Out: Waltrip has added a third entry to his stable to join incumbent Martin Truex Jr. as well as newcomer Mark Martin who takes David Reutimann’s spot with the team. 

Our Take: Bowyer brings MWR’s talent level up considerably and seemed ready for a fresh start after his contract talks at RCR stalled. He was in the enviable position of having a sponsor in hand and chose Waltrip’s operation as the place for the next phase of his Cup career. Getting off to a fast start will be key for the new team’s success.

No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge

In: A.J. Allmendinger slides into the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge in a move from Richard Petty Motorsports. The stars aligned for Allmendinger to get a shot at taking over a car that won twice last season and made the Chase and he seems an ideal fit for team owner Roger Penske’s style.

Out: Kurt Busch “mutually parted ways” with Penske after his tumultuous 2011 season and will drive for Phoenix Racing this season.  The infamous incident with ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch at the Homestead season finale was the tipping point for Busch to end his tenure with Penske Racing. 

Our Take: Allmendinger has been able to perform under tense conditions at both Red Bull and RPM when financial issues played a big part in each team’s day to day operation. He now can rest assured that there will be stability at Penske and can concentrate on trying to elevate his game. There is some pressure taking over the wheel of a successful entry like the No. 22 and trying to win with a rookie Sprint Cup crew chief in Todd Gordon.

No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford

In: David Ragan lands with Front Row Motorsports after being squeezed out of Roush Fenway Racing due to sponsorship issues and not getting the call for open seats at Penske Racing or Richard Petty Motorsports. Ragan stays in the Ford camp with the move.

Out: Travis Kvapil is the odd man out at this poont although team officials haven't ruled out the possibility of a third entry at selected races with Kvapil splitting time with J.J. Yeley and Michael McDowell. A former truck series champ, Kvapil joins the list of drivers impacted by sponsorship issues in 2012.

Our Take: Ragan is a Sprint Cup Series race winner with his Daytona victory last July and has the talent to potentially bring this team up a notch or two in the performance department. But make no mistake, Front Row is by no means anywhere close to having the resources of a Roush Fenway Racing and Ragan will have a challenging season ahead trying to be success with a much smaller and less funded race team.

No. 35 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet

In: David Reutimann has landed with the upstart independent team after his release from Michael Waltrip Racing. The popular driver will pair with Dave Blaney in what TBR hopes will be a two-car effort for at least 26 races with sponsorship dictating the complete schedule. 

Out: TBR ran a handful of races with the car last season that saw the likes of Stephen Leicht, Geoffrey Bodine and Steve Park behind the wheel. 

Our Take: TBR was the quintessential David vs. Goliath story last season and scored some much needed exposure with a number of solid runs particularly at Daytona and Talladega. The team will face another uphill battle this season but the addition of Reutimann and his marketability could bring in additional sponsorship dollars that will in turn help the organization became more competitive.

No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford

In: Aric Almirola was the somewhat surprising choice to take the wheel of the famed No. 43 entry at RPM. Almirola spent last year driving for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series and after running a handful of Cup races for RPM in 2010 was tabbed to fill the seat of the iconic ride for 2012. 

Out: A.J. Allmendinger was granted his release from the team after primary sponsor Best Buy opted to leave for Roush Fenway Racing. Allmendinger then signed on to drive the No. 22 Dodge at Penske Racing. 

Our Take: The good news is RPM remains a two-car effort and that the No. 43 stays on track for 2012. But the team once again faces a rebuilding process taking on a new driver in Almirola to pair with Marcos Ambrose. Allmendinger had made strides to bring the organization up to the next level and seemed to be knocking on the door for his first career Sprint Cup win last season. There will be pressure on Almirola to continue that upward trend.

No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet

In: Kurt Busch takes his much-publicized leap from Penske Racing to James Finch’s operation in hopes of “putting the fun” back into his racing career. The team once again continues its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports ensuring quality cars and potent engines for its 2012 effort. 

Out: Landon Cassill piloted the ride for the bulk of the 2011 season when the 51 entry wound up finishing 30<sup>th</sup> in the final owner point standings. 

Our Take: Right out of the box look for Busch to be a factor at Daytona as Finch’s teams always perform well at restrictor plate tracks. The former series champion’s considerable talents automatically elevates the organization and it won’t hurt having someone of Busch’s stature when hunting down new sponsors. But whether Busch is in for the long haul when tough times inevitably come for the small, one car operation remains to be seen as well as whether he can take the team further up the point standings.

No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

In: Mark Martin signed a two-year deal to drive the former No. 00 Camry with sponsor Aaron’s on board in a 25-race schedule. Team owner Waltrip plans to pilot the entry for five more races at Daytona, Talladega and Kentucky.

Out: David Reutimann was released at the end of last season with Waltrip and sponsor Aaron’s citing a lack of performance as the main reason for the change. 

Our Take: Martin still has the desire to drive and at times showed he could get the job done last year in both his time with Hendrick’s No. 5 Sprint Cup entry as well as some limited starts for Turner Motorsports’ Nationwide program. The 25-race slate should fit perfectly into Martin’s limited schedule desires. Waltrip’s four plate race starts as well as the home date in Kentucky will provide exposure and publicity for the sponsor, the former Daytona 500 winner and spokesperson extraordinaire's specialty.

Dropped teams

No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford

The loss of full-time sponsor UPS forced team owner Jack Roush to shut down his fourth entry for the 2012 season leaving David Ragan on the unmployment line. Despite winning his first career Sprint Cup Series race last July at Daytona, Ragan was forced out of RFR at season's end.

No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Sponsorship issues led to team owner Richard Childress to eliminate this entry from his Sprint Cup stable and to part ways with Clint Bowyer, who left for Michael Waltrip Racing. RCR goes back to three teams for the 2012 season with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard

No. 4 and No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyotas

The departure of Red Bull as both owner and sponsor of this team means two less entries for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series campaign. General Manager Jay Frye was not successful finding new investors to keep the organization's doors open and an official shut down was the aftermath. While Kasey Kahne has landed at Hendrick Motorsports, Brian Vickers does not have a ride lined up for the new season. 


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Posted on: December 22, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 5:41 pm

Phoenix Racing signs Kurt Busch

By Pete Pistone


Kurt Busch
will return to the Sprint Cup Series in 2012 after all.

The former Penske Racing driver will take the wheel of the Phoenix Racing Chevrolet next season.

Busch and team owner James Finch reached agreement on a one year deal late Wednesday night.

“I’m very happy to join Phoenix Racing and after entertaining a lot of quality offers, there’s no better place for me,” said Busch. “We’re going to run the full schedule together, and we’re going to have fun doing it.

“It’s going to be old-school racing, where we show up, race hard and go for the win. And if we don’t win, we’ll go back to the shop, work hard and do it all over again next week. That’s the way we all started racing, and it’s great to get back to that.”

Finch's team ran Landon Cassill in the ride last season and finished 30th in the final owner standings.

He's looking forward to bringing Busch into the fold and run competitively next season.

“All we want to do is win,” Finch said. “Winning is why I’ve been in racing for as long as I have, but NASCAR is a very competitive sport, and winning – especially at the Sprint Cup level – is hard. But now with Kurt Busch as our driver, we have a shot to win every week. He’s a past champion and he’s proven he can win everywhere. Our sponsors are looking forward to Kurt representing their brands.

 “We have excellent equipment and a hard-working group of guys who want that trophy at the end of every race. Kurt’s the guy who can deliver it to them.”

The veteran team owner purchases his equipment from Hendrick Motorsports and Busch, who drove a Ford for Roush Fenway Racing and a Dodge during his Penske Racing tenure, will now campaign a Chevrolet.

“James Finch has always had pretty stout cars for the restrictor-plate races and I know we’ll be very competitive at Daytona,” Busch said. “We’ll participate in the test down there in January to get a good handle on our Daytona 500 car, but also to win another Budweiser Shootout.

“Christmas came early for me this year, and I honestly can’t wait for the season to begin.”

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Posted on: June 3, 2011 11:13 am

Phoenix Racing returns to original number

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Phoenix Racing arrives at the Kansas Speedway this weekend with a familiar color scheme, but slightly new look.  The team announced today the No. 51 will replace the No. 09 on the roof and sides of the team's cars for the remainder of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.  The colors of Security Benefit and their Thank a Teacher Today program will remain the same, but will now also be visible on the team transporter, driver and crew uniforms as well as pit equipment.

"The number change was something we've thought about for a while," said James Finch, team owner. "Being in their home state of our sponsor Security Benefit, this is a great time to roll it out.  This was our original number when we first came to NASCAR and it's great to have it back in our stable."

Security Benefit, based in Topeka (Kan.), has supported the team in every event of 2011.  It's their first year in the sport, but the insurance company has already seen positive feedback from teachers and fans alike through the message, Thank a Teacher Today.  The program will now have increased branding along with the new number during its first visit to their home track this weekend in Kansas.

"It's been great to see everyone support this car because of its message," said driver Landon Cassill.  "It's great to come to the Kansas Speedway with a new number and increased presence for Thank a Teacher Today. The car looks pretty cool and there are some exciting things still to come."

The team plans continued announcements regarding the Thank a Teacher Today program later this season.

The number 51 was last used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during the 2010 Daytona 500 by driver Michael Waltrip.  Prior to that, Phoenix Racing used the number in four events in 2001 with driver Jeff Purvis.  The number has been used in 336 Sprint Cup events with two wins by Gober Sosebee in 1952 and 1954.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 26, 2010 10:59 am

Silly Season rumors make the rounds at Indy

The rumor mill was churning loudly during the Sprint Cup weekend at Indianapolis

-- Jamie McMurray can probably expect a nice raise. This year's Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 champion currently has just a one-year contract with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, but a new deal is in the works.

-- The Kasey Kahne saga still continues to impact a number of teams.

Mark Martin is upset that he's constantly being nagged about his status for next season. He insists he's not going anywhere and will be the driver of the No. 5 car for Hendrick Motorsports in 2011. However, it does sound as if Hendrick would rather have Kahne in the seat if at all possible.

Meanwhile, Mike Mulhern reports that talks to put Kahne in Phoenix Racing's 09 car have fallen through and that James Finch will likely shut down or sell his operation at the end of the season.

-- ESPN.com reports that Budweiser could be headed to Kevin Harvick 's No. 29 car at that an announcement may come at Watkins Glen. Harvick's current sponsor Shell/Pennzoil is moving to Penske Racing's No. 22 car where it will sponsor Kurt Busch starting in 2011. The Shell arrangement left Mobil 1 the odd sponsor out at Penske and it could wind up at Stewart Haas.

-- Scene Daily reports that Red Bull is still contemplating whether to bring back Scott Speed for another season. In his second season, Speed sits 26th in points but he has been running at the finish of every race this season. A year ago he had eight DNFs. He has just three top 10s in 60 career starts in the Cup Series.

Posted on: July 9, 2010 12:22 pm

Labonte to drive for Phoenix Racing at Indy

Bobby Labonte will be driving for Phoenix Racing at Indianapolis. Labonte had previously mentioned a second car for Robby Gordon Motorsports as a possibility for the Brickyard, but that won't be the case.

Press release follows:

Spartanburg, S.C. (July 9, 2010) - Phoenix Racing and team owner James Finch announced today that 2000 Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte will be back behind the wheel of the No. 09 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet for the Brickyard 400 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25.  Labonte is the 2000 winner of the event and one of only nine drivers to have won this prestigious race.

Labonte will also be making his 600th consecutive start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  That mark currently lists him seventh in overall consecutive starts.  Ricky Rudd is the all-time consecutive starts leader at 788.

"I've got to thank James Finch and Phoenix Racing for allowing me to get my 600th consecutive race with them at Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Labonte.  "We had some discussion about future races at Daytona, and we were able to put a deal together for the Brickyard 400.  I like working with the guys and appreciate this opportunity.

"The Brickyard is such a memorable race.  To be able to have this race as my 600th consecutive start is really cool. I didn't sit down at the beginning of my career and plan any milestones, so this is pretty cool."

It will be Labonte's third start for Phoenix Racing after racing for the team at both Daytona and Chicagoland.

Posted on: June 15, 2010 5:00 pm

Kahne's 2011 home remains a mystery

Last week SI.com reported that it looked like Phoenix Racing would serve as Kasey Kahne temporary home before his contract at Hendrick Motorsports kicked in in 2012.

That set every other reporter in motion looking to confirm the story for themselves. Problem is, the parties involved aren't exactly being cooperative. Kahne and car owner Rick Hendrick said they still have no clue yet where Kahne will end up in 2011, while FoxSports is reporting that Phoenix Racing car owner James Finch says he hasn't even spoken with Hendrick regarding Kahne.

So while it might make sense for Kahne to end up at Phoenix Racing for a season, his 2011 home remains up in the air.

-- Brian De Los Santos
Posted on: April 26, 2010 9:54 am
Edited on: April 26, 2010 9:55 am

Finch looking to sell Phoenix Racing

A nice article at foxsports.com about James Finch looking to sell his Phoenix Racing.

For a price, the new owner would acquire a 70,000 sq. ft. building complete with 35 race cars, all the machinery and two houses on nine acres in Spartanburg, S.C.

“I’ve had a real good time,” Finch said. “But it’s time to do something else. Offer me a fair price — then give me half and we’ll have a deal.”

Finch fielded cars for a variety of drivers in NASCAR’s Cup and Nationwide Series as well as ARCA. He won 12 NNS races with six different drivers on nine different tracks. But his most coveted win came at Talladega last year as Finch provided rookie Brad Keselowski with an opportunity to earn his first Sprint Cup victory.

Finch said he always aspired to win a race at Daytona at the Cup level and his Phoenix Racing cars were always perennial favorites at restrictor-plate tracks. But after 20 years of competition in NASCAR, Finch has no unrealistic expectations — particularly after losing the Miccosukee Casino and Resort sponsorship at the start of the season.

“It was meant for me to win Talladega and not Daytona — but that was a lifetime dream,” Finch said. “I just don’t want to go broke trying to outrun the manufacturers — whether that’s Jack Roush (with Ford), Rick Hendrick (Chevrolet), Joe Gibbs (Toyota) or Roger Penske (Dodge). I don’t have a sponsor and to rent a motor is $100,000 a race (from the top engine builders). I feel like I’ve been run out of business. You have to do business with them to run up front and that’s too expensive. We use to run 175 miles per hour for a 20th of a price. And now we’re running 190 miles per hour and it’s $225,000 to run all your stuff.”

Read the full story at foxsports.com

Category: Auto Racing
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