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Motorsports 101 Debate: Which Sprint Cup Organization Left Speedweeks 2013 in the Most Trouble?

February 27th, 2013 at 11:13 AM
By Mark Eddinger

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is a long one but every team wants to get off to a hot start. After Speedweeks in Daytona some teams accomplished that goal while others fell flat. Motorsports 101 debates which organization left Daytona in the most trouble.

One Lap’s Misfortune Has Hurt Front Row Motorsports – By Clayton Caldwell
 
Speedweeks 2013 was certainly an interesting two weeks. Lots of accidents and lots of blown engines certainly made Daytona all the more interesting. There is one team that really had a tough Speedweeks and that is Front Row Motorsports.
 
'David Gilliland's car following the 2011 Sprint Showdown' photo (c) 2011, Casey24836 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
 
This answer may surprise some people because Front Row Motorsports is such a small organization but that’s what makes the concern even worse. Front Row Motorsports houses a three car effort for drivers David Ragan, David Gilliland and Josh Wise. While the weekend started off good for the team, with all three of their cars making the Daytona 500, their weekend ended up being really bad.

All three cars had funding for the weekend, which wass huge for the small team and an owner that basically runs the team out of his pocket. Detail Doctor, Love’s Travel Stops and Blockbuster.com all joined the team as primary sponsors for the weekend. It was expected that the team would put a competitive effort up. It didn’t happen as planned.
 
Their problems began on lap seven when David Gilliland had something go wrong in the engine of the No. 38 Ford. Gilliland and his No. 38 team were able to correct the problem but it put the team down a couple laps and Gilliland had to fight his way back on the lead lap, which he would eventually do and the team looked destined to work their way up to the front. That didn’t happen.
 
On lap 139 the second major accident of the day occurred when Trevor Bayne and Brad Keselowski got together in Turn 1 causing several cars to be involved in the accident. Included in that wreck were Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Austin Dillon, Terry Labonte and all three Front Row Motorsports cars of Josh Wise, David Ragan and David Gilliland.
 
It was not a good lap for the small organization. While the team will have all three cars down at Phoenix you have to look at the big picture. That big picture includes the point standings for the teams. David Ragan’s No. 34 team is 35th in owner points with David Gilliland’s No. 38 Ford 38th in owner points and Josh Wise’s No. 35 team 40th in owner points.
 
While the teams will likely not start and park throughout the year Daytona is a place where you can gain a lot of points and move high in owner points. The team needs to be high in owner points and need to have solid runs at Phoenix and Las Vegas to get them higher in the owner points to help them use provisionals.
 
You also have to look at the resources the team has. They do not have an outrageous number of racecars. With this new car it will hurt this team to build three new racecars as all of them got torn up and will likely not be used again by the team.
 
While Joe Gibbs Racing had several engine issues which is a cause for concern, Front Row Motorsports lost three racecars and are low in owner points, something the team hopes to rebound from as they head into Phoenix this weekend.
 
Joe Gibbs Racing Has the Talent but Not the Reliability – By Mark Eddinger
 
It was only the first of 36 races on the 2013 Sprint Cup Series schedule but Daytona might have shed some light on what is to come this season and if early indications are correct then Joe Gibbs Racing is in trouble.
 
'Joey Logano #20, LVMS' photo (c) 2012, Terri  Hickox - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
 
No, not because the three-car organization was slow, trust me they showed plenty of speed. Matt Kenseth led 86 of the first 149 laps in the Daytona 500, Denny Hamlin led 33 laps, and Kyle Busch won Duel #2 on Thursday and was running up near the front for the most part on Sunday.
 
The reason JGR is in trouble is that the team showed reliability issues as far as their engines go. This has been an issue in the past for the team. Issues cost Denny Hamlin a chance at the championship last year and Kyle Busch a place in the Chase. JGR uses engines from Toyota Racing Development and on Sunday two of the three engines experienced major issues which forced Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch out of the race.
 
While Kenseth was leading with 51 laps left his No. 20 Toyota began to smoke. Just like that the races dominant car was out. Two laps later Busch’s No. 18 Toyota also began to show smoke and in a matter of a few shocking minutes the dominant Gibbs threesome at the front of the field was down to only Hamlin.
 
Without his JGR teammates Hamlin had trouble finding friends to draft with and by the end he found himself with a 14th place finish. It was a finish not as good as he had hoped for but at least his TRD engine did not let go and he still scored significant points unlike Busch in 34th and Kenseth in 37th.
 
All three drivers are supposed to be legitimate title contenders this season. In fact I picked Matt Kenseth to win and Clayton picked Denny Hamlin. But for those predictions to come true, Gibbs needs to sure up the reliability issues that have hampered them in the past and on Sunday. TRD engines need to be reliable for them or else these three title contenders will struggle to even earn their spot in the Chase.
Tags: Clayton Caldwell, David Gilliland, david ragan, Denny Hamlin, Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Josh Wise, Kyle Busch, Mark Eddinger, matt kenseth, Motorsports, NASCAR, Sprint Cup Series, Toyota Racing Development, TRD

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