Column: Midway mark for NASCAR

Published 5:16 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2007

By Staff
We are at the unofficial half-time of the 2007 Nextel Cup season. With 19 races in the books and during the last off weekend before 17 straight weeks of racing, some guys are sitting pretty for the chase, some are fighting to get into the chase, and others are just trying to keep their jobs.
There's a lot of weird rumblings right now and I think business is about to pick up in terms of driver movement. During the last week, both Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek were booted from their rides at Ginn Motorsports. I am disappointed with this whole scenario.
Bobby Ginn seemed like the real deal when he entered the sport, buying the assets of MB2 Motorsports, late last year. Luring Mark Martin from Roush and Ford to drive a part-time schedule was a huge coup. The near win by Martin at the Daytona 500 and competitive finishes by all three Ginn drivers, this team seemed to be on the cusp of a great team.
But, sponsorship dollars dried up and the No. 13 ride of Nemechek will sit idle until funds become available. This is despite Bobby Ginn operating a real estate company that did a couple of billion dollars, billion with a B, in revenue last year. This proves how much of a money pit top notch racing can be.
Marlin, a former two-time Daytona 500 winner, was pushed aside to make way for Regan Smith to take over and drive full-time. Smith was sharing the No. 01 Army ride with Martin. Taking Smith's spot in the part-time gig is Aric Almirola. To me, that move is another coup for Ginn. This guy will be a solid performer for many years.
I don't know if this was a move by Almirola because of better opportunity or because he is teed off at Joe Gibbs Racing. If you remember, Almirola was driving the Gibbs Busch car in Milwaukee when he pulled out for Denny Hamlin, while leading the race and winning the pole. Hamlin ended up winning the race, and in the process, earning an official win for Almirola.
All of this is happening while whispers are becoming shouts about Ginn either merging with or being bought out by DEI. Supposedly, the announcement could come as early as next week at Indianapolis. It could be a full-blown acquisition by DEI or they could just acquire the owners' points of the No. 13. That would give DEI some wiggle room going into next season if they sign Kyle Busch to replace Junior.
I still have a sneaky feeling that Busch ends up with Richard Childress. I also think there is fire associated with the smoke coming from the Kasey Kahne to DEI rumor. Supposedly, Kahne is target number one for Budweiser. Owners seem to open that pocket book up a little wider when sponsorship dollars depend on driver choice. Kahne's situation with Evernham has to frustrating.
Whatever happens to whichever drivers, it will be fun to watch.
Indianapolis is next on the schedule. See you next week.