Dollars and cents in racing

Race drivers need money to be competitive on the track each week. Dollars and cents replace the decisions to stay or remain with NASCAR teams nowadays.

Several big-name drivers are looking to be resigned by their current teams or shopping the market for new rides with big bucks. Three of these top-notch competitors are Clint Bowyer, currently running the No. 15 for Michael Waltrip Racing, Greg Biffle pilots the No. 16 for Roush-Fenway Racing and his teammate Carl Edwards drives the No. 99. All three drivers want to keep their current rides, but funding will be the deciding factor in all of these cases.

Bowyer has been with MWR for three years and 5-Hour Energy will adorn his car for 24 races this season. Both driver and sponsor are evaluating the market to verify the product is worth while in its current state or a change may be warranted. Edwards and Biffle are currently in negotiations with Roush-Fenway to extend their rides with a long-term deal. Subway/Fastenal have committed to an extension of their contract on the No. 99 Ford and AAA will continue its relationship with the organization for another two years.

Sponsorship dollars are in place for the two RFR teams, but the driver lineup may change due to the amount of bucks the boys want for piloting their Cup rides into the future.

Another case of a driver/team combination facing an uncertain future is Kurt Busch and Gene Haas at Stewart-Haas Racing. The duo came together late last year to form the No. 41 team at SHR. Haas is footing the bill to put his fourth team on the track this year with a strong emphasis on winning races and competing for a championship. Busch has been handed an opportunity to regain his championship swagger he enjoyed with Jack Roush in the 90s. Busch enjoyed a meager performance while driving for Roger Penske from 2005-10. His talent is not in question, but his inability to control his off-track antics is his largest nemesis. Winning will be the key to his future at SHR or the future spot for someone else.

Finding top rides in the NASCAR’s top series is difficult. Some drivers need only to say yes to a deal or must find a sponsor willing to market them. Danica Patrick is a competitor that has marketability, but has shown little promise of competing on the big stage. She has GoDaddy.com as her primary sponsor, but fans look to her not for talents on the track, but the persona she casts on pit lane and the garage area.

Stewart-Haas may re-evaluate its lineup after the 2014 season to fill her seat and sponsor with a team that adds to their overall performance, instead of just face on billboards, spots in commercials and her feminine appearance.

Sponsorship money rules the raceway, drivers and teams makeup in today’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series. Fans should no longer show support for a driver, but their sponsorship if they want to continue seeing them on the track.

Contact Eddie Thomas at ethomas@newsandsentinel.com