Long: Could NASCAR action come soon enough to help Michael Waltrip Racing?


LONG POND, Pa. – The biggest race for Michael Waltrip Racing might be one without a defined finish line.

Amid the subtext of co-owner Rob Kauffman agreeing to purchase an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing, and with primary sponsor Aaron’s not stating if it will return to MWR after this season, is a push to give teams greater value.

Call it franchising, although the most popular word being bandied about the Sprint Cup garage is medallion. Think of it like a taxi medallion – a city-issued license to operate a cab and often viewed as a sound investment because of its scarcity.

Just how a medallion system – or something similar – might work remains a question to many in the Sprint Cup garage. And how soon it might begin is another key question. Some think it could start as early as next year. Others say it’s further down the road. Questions abound on how many teams would be covered. Would it be 25, 30 or 43? Will it be based on this season’s owner points or performance in recent years?

If anything can help provide value to a team, the sooner the better. For all the buildings, cars, and equipment teams have, their true value is in sponsor contracts. If those deals go away and can’t be replaced, a team could cease and have to sell its equipment.

“Yeah the only thing they’ve got is equipment, which is 10 cents on the dollar, and land and buildings and shop equipment and everything else, which is 50 cents on the dollar,’’ Kyle Busch said.

Busch was fortunate that when he quit running his Xfinity team after the 2013 season, it moved to Joe Gibbs Racing. That came two years after Kevin Harvick sold his Camping World Truck teams and his Xfinity operation moved to Richard Childress Racing.

Others have not been as lucky through the years. Former drivers Ricky Rudd, Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace saw teams they formed fade away when sponsors left, leaving them little.

That’s why the talks that have taken place behind the scenes provide hope to car owners that what they’ve invested could soon provide a return.

“It’s critical,’’ car owner Richard Childress said Friday at Pocono Raceway. “We’ve just got to have some long-term equity in these race teams and we don’t have it. NASCAR is aware of it, and they’re taking a deep look at everything.’’

Even for Childress’ success – six Sprint Cup championships – he’s had Chartwell Investments as a minority partner since 2003. The team first announced in July 2012 that Chartwell was considering selling its stake in the team. Chartwell announced in February it had retained a global investment bank to assist in selling its equity position.

While Childress talks about how important some sort of value for team owners is, Michael Waltrip has remained mum other than a statement this week about Kauffman’s intention to pursue a portion of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Clint Bowyer spoke on behalf of MWR on Friday at Pocono Raceway, saying: “There’s obviously change on the horizon and we’re going to have to work on the future and see what that looks like.’’

Bowyer, who reportedly could join Ganassi next year with the No. 15 team and Kauffman, said the focus for he and his team is on this season and making the Chase.

The quest for MWR is to stay around in whatever form possible in case NASCAR introduces a franchising model next year. That would provide value for MWR, which debuted in 2007 and is the only remaining original Toyota team after Bill Davis Racing closed in 2008 and Red Bull Racing left the sport after the 2011 season.

The hope among those in the garage is that a medallion system would create a value for a team so that an owner could sell their stake. Another benefit is that such a system could entice others to join the sport by coming on board as a partner. Additional money could improve the health of teams and ensure their viability.

“The sport is at a point,’’ Childress said, “(that) to be able to keep quality teams, NASCAR knows they’ve got to work in other areas to try to help all the teams survive.’’

That work can’t be completed soon enough for Michael Waltrip Racing.


NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told Frontstretch.com: “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.