Friday, February 22, 2008

Rainout in Southern California on Friday

Contrary to popular belief, it actually does rain in Southern California. It's a shame that the rains came this particular weekend though.

On Friday, beautiful Fontana California had temperatures in the 40's, and intermittent rain and always clouds. It was frustrating for many racing teams, not just Sprint Cup, but also Nationwide and Craftsman Trucks series as well.

One of the Cup teams that had to be very disappointed was the 08 Dodge, driven this week by Burney Lamar. The 08 is owned by E&M Motorsports, and John Carter.

On a lot of recent weekdays, the 08 car could be seen in the shop of John Carter in the tiny North Georgia town of Toccoa. Take a drive down Route 17, which is known locally as Big A Road, and it has been a common sight to see the shop doors open, and the team working feverishly on the car.

John Carter is not a mega car owner such as folks like Jack Roush, Rick Hendrick, or Chip Ganassi, or even Robbie Gordon. This team has very limited resources, and has a difficult time finding sponsorship for their effort to go racing each week. After all, why would someone sponsor a team that even most Nascar fans have never heard of?

The reason is that even with limited resources, this owner and this team have achieved success in the series. They did it in 2005 in the biggest race of the year too.

On February 20, 2005, the number 37 Patron Tequila Dodge, piloted by Kevin Lepage, and owned by John Carter finished an incredible 9th in the Daytona 500. The team grossed over $300,000 for that top 10 run in America's biggest race, and since then, the Carter team has faded back into relative obscurity. They have not given up though.

This week, the 08 Dodge, to be piloted by Burney Larmar was hauled from the East coast of the US all the way to the West coast. Now they are headed home, without having a chance to even put the car on the track. Think of the incredible cost that John Carter must have incurred sending the car across the country for what? Absolutely nothing.

I don't know what Nascar can do about this situation to help the small teams. I don't really like the top 35 rule, but then again, when rain wipes out qualifying, what is a team to do? The field is set at a maximum of 43 cars, and there's not any really logical way to argue that John Carter's Dodge deserves a start, when there are about 50 odd teams with more owner points than he has. It is a shame though.

Tonight I praise the small teams such as John Carter, and the aspiring Cup drivers such as Burney Lamar. I know they're all feeling down tonight, but I hope we get to see them on the track soon.

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