Wow, this one really came out of left field. It’s almost the stuff fairy tales are made out of. Wealthy developer saves struggling team, expands it faster than you can blink an eye, keeps existing name drivers, signs on young drivers, and then adds Mark Matin into the mix. Talk about your overnight success formula, just add races and stir for success.
Well, apparently the fairy tale is over, the funding from the dashing price has all but dried up, and the sponsorship hunters have drawn blanks, leaving a team in a state of chaos.
Earlier this week it was revealed that both Joe Nemecheck and Sterling Marlin have been released and replaced immediately. Regan Smith, who has been sharing the ride with Mark Martin now moves across to the 14 car replacing Marlin. The future of the 13 car is unknown at this time, but it is rumored that it will not run again, and may be the subject of a sale. With Smith moving full time to the 14 car, his place sharing with Mark Matrin in the 01 car will be taken by Aric Almirola, who has been released from Gibbs racing to take up this opportunity. This news comes on the heels of the team shitting down it’s Busch series team, and laying off a number of staff.
So far Nemecheck has not commented, but Sterling Marlin has made certain details known, including that he has what he feels is a valid contract for the rest of the year, which raises the question of why this has been done, when presumably the team will still have to pay it’s drivers through to the end of the year. As usual it looks like the lawyers are circling around, and will be the only ones to benefit.
“It caught me by surprise, They called me yesterday, late yesterday, told me what’s going on. I ain’t got no problem with that. I was planning on cutting back next year but still would have liked to finish the year out like you’re supposed to and do everything that was in the contract that we’re supposed to do and we just don’t look like we’re gonna do it.” said Marlin.
“Well, I mean, it’s stuff I don’t want to get into,” he said. “I know that I can get up in the mornings and I can look in the mirror and know that I drove my heart out and done all I could do. And we’ve had a pretty good car at times this year, better than last year. And they had a lot of problems on their side over there that still need to be addressed and maybe will.
“I’m proud of my guys on the team. We were the only team that was outside the top 35 in points that made it in all the races, so that’s a lot more than a lot of good race teams and good drivers can say. So I’ve got nothing to hold my head down about because I’ve done all I could do with what I had.”
Let the lawyers handle it, and if I want to run somebody’s car next year, I can run somebody’s car [for] 15-20 races next year,” he said. “Or, somebody’s Busch car. I still enjoy racing, still enjoy it a lot. The travel part of it is getting old but as far as firing a car up on Sunday, there’s nothing like it. We’ll see what happens. I’ve got a ton of things going on around here but it’s still fun to race, too.”