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Category:Auto Racing
Posted on: July 27, 2010 12:10 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2010 12:10 pm

Ambrose, JTG to part ways; RPM in his future?

Marcos Ambrose
and JTG Daugherty Racing have announced that they'll be parting ways at the end of the season. In 67 career Cup races, Ambrose has notched five top fives and 10 top 10s. Though he says in the press release that he doesn't have anything lined up and that a retrun to Australia is possible, he's rumored to be heading to Richard Petty Motorsports, which has Kasey Kahne's seat to fill and possibly that of Elliott Sadler and AJ Allmendinger.

No word on who JTG Daugherty might look at to fill Ambrose's seat. If Sam Hornish Jr. could be a possibility if he loses his ride at Penske Racing.

Press release follows:

HARRISBURG, N.C. (July 27, 2010) - - After five successful years together in NASCAR’s top touring divisions, JTG Daugherty Racing and Marcos Ambrose will part ways at the end of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

“JTG Daugherty Racing and our sponsors are obviously huge Marcos Ambrose fans and we are disappointed to see him leave after five great years of building a program together from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to the Nationwide Series, and into the Sprint Cup Series,” said Tad Geschickter, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing along with Brad Daugherty and Jodi Geschickter. “Marcos is a friend and he is a great talent. He will be an asset to his next team.

“While we hate to see him move on at the end of the season, we will remain focused on winning races with Marcos,” Geschickter continued.  "We are excited about our company's development. We have NASCAR’s greatest and most loyal sponsors, a growing fan base, and a steadily improving race team.”

“We have enjoyed working with Marcos and getting to know his family and friends from both the United States and Australia,” Jodi Geschickter added. “They have brought a lively dimension to our racing family and we have appreciated the opportunity to get to know them. Although we will miss Marcos, we have an amazing team at JTG Daugherty Racing and we look forward to announcing our plans for 2011.”

Daugherty echoes the Geschickter’s sentiments and wishes Ambrose much success in his future endeavors.   

“We are thankful for the opportunity to work with Marcos for the last five years and it has been an enjoyable experience,” Daugherty said. “We wish him the utmost success and best wishes. JTG Daugherty Racing has a bright future and we already have great plans in place for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.”

The two-time V8 Supercar champion’s first appearance with JTG Daugherty Racing was at Martinsville Speedway in 2006 when he made his NASCAR debut in the Camping World Truck Series. Ambrose naturally progressed the next year to the NASCAR Nationwide Series spending two years in the division before competing full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the racing organization.

“It has been a great five year journey for me and JTG Daugherty Racing,” Ambrose said. “I am proud of being their driver and of what we have been able to accomplish together. I want to personally thank Tad, Jodi and Brad and the entire race team for everything they have done. Our plan is to complete the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with the same desire and commitment and end our relationship the same way it started with a positive attitude and the willingness to win. I will do everything I can to help JTG Daugherty transition into next year with their new driver.

“After five years, I personally felt it was time for a change,” Ambrose continued. “I have no firm plans of what will come next for me and my career. I would like to continue in NASCAR and finish off what I started, but I have not discounted returning to Australia. I’m grateful to JTG Daugherty Racing for giving me an opportunity to become a NASCAR driver and I wish them the best in the future.”

The Launceston, Tasmania Australia native has recorded four top-five and nine top-10 finishes with JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and has also delivered two Nationwide Series victories. His career-best Cup finish is a second-place finish at Watkins Glen International last season.

Currently Ambrose has two top-10 finishes and is 27th in the driver points standings after 20 starts this season.

JTG Daugherty Racing will make an announcement in the near future regarding their driver for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

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.

-- 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 23, 2010 4:48 pm

Where will Hornish race in 2011?

Back in April, Roger Penske insisted he had every intention of keeping Sam Hornish Jr. in the 77 car in 2011 and Hornish said he had no interest in returning to the IndyCar Series.

Friday at Indianapolis, Hornish admitted his future is a bit more cloudy than he would prefer.

"No updates as far as I'm concerned yet," he said. "I'd definitely like to be back in the Sprint Cup series and I'm going to work to be able to try to do that. Definitely, things are still tough with the economy and trying to find full-time sponsors and things like that. We're going to do everything we can do to make that happen and be back in Sprint Cup."

Some major changes are in store for the Penske team in 2011. For starters,
Kurt Busch is leaving Miller Lite and the No. 2 car to driver a No. 22 car with sponsorship from Shell/Pennzoil. Brad Keselowski , in his first year with Penske in the 12 car, will take over Busch's No. 2 ride, which is expected to retain Miller Lite as its sponsor.

With Shell aboard Busch's 22 car in 2011, Penske is in need of a new sponsor to replace Mobil 1 on the 77 car. And there's the snag as sponsorship hasn't materialized for an underperforming Hornish. A three-time IndyCar Series champion, the jump to NASCAR has failed to result in much success.

Hornish still says he not particularly inclined to return to the IndyCar Series if Penske can't keep him in a Cup car, but if he tries to stay in NASCAR, I don't know that the options are all that great. Maybe Richard Petty Motorsports, which looks to have a couple of seats to fill with Kasey Kahne jumping ship and Elliott Sadler not expected to return. Outside of RPM, the major teams don't appear to have any openings and would Hornish really be their first option if they did?

It may be time for Hornish to swallow his pride and return to Indy cars where he can be one of the big dogs again.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Posted on: July 23, 2010 2:20 pm

Reutimann finally signs contract extension

It's been reported for weeks that David Reutimann would be resigning with Michael Waltrip Racing, but it was finally announced as official on Friday. The deal will keep Reutimann, who picked up his second career -- and first non rain-shortened -- victory at Chicagoland two weeks ago.

Aaron's will remain as the primary sponsor for at least 30 races in each of the next two seasons and holds an option for 2013.
Posted on: July 21, 2010 11:08 am

Labonte, TRG to team up again

While he may have severed his contract with TRG Motorsports earlier this season, Bobby Labonte isn't totally through driving the No. 71 car.

Labonte has agreed to drive TRG's No. 71 car in at least four more races -- Pocono (Aug. 1), Michigan (Aug. 15), Atlanta (Sept. 5), and Texas (Nov. 7).
Posted on: July 10, 2010 3:28 pm

Sadler doesn't expect to return to RPM in 2011

Add Elliott Sadler to the growing list of drivers who expect to have a new address in 2011. The veteran driver didn't make anything official but has told reporters he'd be surprised if he returned to the wheel of the No. 19 Richard Petty Motorsports entry next season.

With Kasey Kahne already set to depart RPM for Hendrick Motorsports and A.J. Allmendinger also not sure of his plans, the RPM stable will have a completely different look next season if the team remains intact.

Sadler believes his services will fill a void for some team on the Cup level but don't rule out a full-time Nationwide or truck series ride for the Virginia driver if nothing materializes in NASCAR's top division.

-- Pete Pistone
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: July 8, 2010 11:37 am

Martin denies, but Red Bull rumors heating up

Kasey Kahne and Rick Hendrick still haven't announced concrete plans for the two to join forces but the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 ride now appears to be a solid potential destination with Mark Martin moving out of the car for 2011.

Despite Martin's stern reaffirmation that he would return to the 5 car next year, several sources have pointed to the veteran joining Team Red Bull next season either as a replacement for Brian Vickers or Scott Speed or perhaps in a third entry.

Martin has roots within the team including relationships with TRB General manager Jay Frye and crew chief Ryan Pemberton, who worked with the veteran in 2007 and 2008 when the trio was with Ginn Racing/DEI.

While TRB has been in the Toyota camp since its inception, there was some talk last year about a switch of manufacturers to Chevrolet. Speculation is TRB could possibly create an alliance with Hendrick - similar to the Stewart-Haas Racing arrangement - and become a Chevy team keeping Martin in the manufacturer's fold and remaining in top notch equipment.

Currently all parties have vehemently denied this scenario -- which is a sure sign something is brewing.

-- Pete Pistone
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