Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Moneyball Part 2: This Time It's NASCAR


Once again Danica Patrick made news without saying a word. Instead, it was Tommy Baldwin on SPEED's RaceHub Tuesday evening trying to explain a deal that was made for only one reason. That reason was money.

Baldwin confirmed that Patrick would be racing 10 Sprint Cup Series races for his team, Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR). However, it will be Greg Zipadelli as her crew chief and her equipment will actually be coming from Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). As most fans know, that means Hendrick Motorsports (HMS).

Baldwin's actual team driver, Dave Blaney, will now lose the opportunity to use those points and will have to race his way into the Daytona 500 and other races early on. Baldwin essentially sold his points for cash, taking the money without even running.

David Reutimann will be racing the TBR #10 in the other Sprint Cup Series races, basically keeping the seat warm for Patrick and the car in the top 35 in points. That makes sure she also gets in the remainder of her 9 races after Daytona without having to qualify on time.

Baldwin would not say where the 2012 points from the #10 will go next year, but veteran reporter Dustin Long said he believed they would travel to SHR. The idea behind that is that Patrick may also be traveling to SHR.

The money behind this effort is from Go Daddy. Patrick's management team is amazing at using the Go Daddy funding to keep her media exposure high despite the lack of any significant success in IndyCar or NASCAR.

It's not the eyeballs of the NASCAR fans in the stands that Go Daddy is chasing. This company is all about TV exposure and the Daytona 500 will come immediately after Patrick's extensively promoted Super Bowl commercials. Once again, crude sexist innuendos are being used to sell domain names.

FOX is the beneficiary of Patrick's continued rise up the NASCAR media exposure ranks. Stories out around the world Tuesday about the TBR and SHR "collaborative agreement" focused not on the sleazy points deal, but on the fact that the Daytona 500 will now have a female racing in it.

There is little doubt that Baldwin is getting paid a good sum, which helps his struggling race team, but it still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. For his part, Baldwin said on RaceHub that Chevy played a major role in making this deal happen. No doubt Danica in a Chevy on FOX in the Daytona 500 is worth a significant amount of money.

In a way, all three NASCAR TV partners involved in coverage from Daytona reap rewards from this deal. SPEED now gets Danica in the Twin qualifying races as well as the practice and qualifying sessions. ESPN gets Danica in all the Nationwide Series programming that the network produces and some Cup races.

Regardless of whether she crashes out on the first lap, struggles home outside the top twenty or maneuvers herself in a position to win there is no downside. As we have already seen, FOX included Patrick immediately in the network's Daytona 500 promo's even before she was locked in with this points deal.

Moments after this "agreement" was announced on Tuesday, FOX's Darrell Waltrip was on Twitter spinning this as positive for all involved.

Shortly after noon: "To me point swapping is a form of franchising, it gives all the teams in the top 35 added value, it particularly helps small teams!"

At 5PM he expanded the idea: "Not sure how anyone could not feel good for Tommy Baldwin, from a start and park to a team with Danica and David R.... his gamble paid off."

At 6PM he wrapped it up: "What Tony and Tommy are doing is buying insurance, to cover any unexpected happenings. She may not even need the points if she runs well! The insurance is if she should miss the Daytona 500 for some reason, its very difficult to over come that and make it into the top 35."

That helps us to understand the approach FOX is going to take on this issue. It's all good, the deal is done and we have a high-profile female driver we can use to promote this event to an entirely different fan base.

Keep an eye out on various FOX cable networks around the nation as the drumbeat for Daytona begins to get louder and louder. Unlike ESPN's struggles to promote the Nationwide Series, FOX puts a lot of time and effort into the Daytona speedweeks.

So, the deal is done and Danica is in the Daytona 500. She gets a top-notch car from SHR, a top-notch crew chief in Greg Zipadelli and the TV focus from FOX. It might be speed that wins the race, but this double-secret rules bender with cars, crew chiefs and drivers all "loaned out" reinforces the point that money really drives the bus when it comes to playing on the big stage.

We welcome your comment on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

44 comments:

iworkhere said...

I hope she wins every race! NASCAR really needs a super star now especially since the Dale Jr honeymoon is over.
Use to be NASCAR would not allow points swapping and number exchanges.
So the sport is changing more into a production.
It no longer be a race where all teams, even a small one in a tiny backyard garage, has a chance to take home a trophy. Those days are over.
Now with the addition of fuel injection it will become more technical than ever eliminating even more low budget teams.
You will see more start and parks than ever this season and you will see smaller fields taking the green flag.
So who cares if NASCAR has given Danica the "call"
They always have had the power.
They have used that power many times since 1948 and will continue to help make the sport more exciting by creating a new super star. She got the call this time!

Lacy said...

Thank you Mr Daly for saying what it really is. Less the BS.
All this hype over a driver who hasn't really done anything except make "racy" commercials. (Yes, she won in Indycar but wasn't a fuel mileage win or some like that)
Guess we'll be hearing Danica all day, everyday for now on. I'm not a Danica hater, but if she has all this talent, why can't she race herself in the 500. Did you notice Stewart wasn't stepping up to give her his pts? Makes you kind of wonder why. Bottom line, it's all about the money but I'm glad TBR got it, over anyone else.

David Dubczak said...

I have to agree with DW. Now, TBR has better cars and equipment and technical assistance that they have never had before. Yes, it was a deal made for money to get Danica in the show, but it still elevates TBR to a whole new level. It works out great for Baldwin from every end.

sue said...

Gosh 2 out of the last 7 blogs on here have been about Danica. So if this percentage holds true are we going to see 95 Danica posts this year?? I hope not.

BTW I'm happy for Tommy Baldwin.
Tommy and Tony have come a long way from that eventful day at Chicagoland when a fight broke out.

Anonymous said...

Will fans still flock to Ms. Danica in a few years when she looks like Mark Martin and has the results of Dale Jr.?

Buschseries61 said...

Thank you for telling the truth when very few will. I predict at least a dozen articles this week spinning this as a major boost for the sport. Complete bull.

This points buying has gone on for a few years now, but this deserves the Danica hype. I've always found it ridiculous that organizations adding another car just buy their 'earned points' as a free pass to race. The owner points list is a yearly joke, like Mr. Bobby Ginn listed as the owner of the RCR #33 in 2009. The team in 36th that should actually earn the spot has no safety because they didn't mail a check. It's frustrating to see the efforts of those teams mean nothing, which only fuels the S&P problem. Why bother to race when a check overrides your expensive 36 race effort.

Any fan can clearly see in this point deal this is two different teams pretending to be one. Sure this helps Tommy Baldwin, his team is now under the Hendrick umbrella. But this is another blow to the competitive nature of the sport that defined the 90's and early 00's. The diversity of separate teams and manufacturers is condensed to 5-6 operations that distribute kit-cars to satellite teams and older hand-me-downs to the rest.

NASCAR has forgotten the whole point of qualifying to compete. It’s a beat to death point brought up every season, but it’s still true. That high risk made fans want to watch qualifying. It made the Duel 125's thrilling to watch. Now the only motivation is pit selection.

Your closing, "money really drives the bus when it comes to playing on the big stage," sums it up well. I noticed the Daytona promos on SPEED during the Rolex 24. I got a chuckle when I saw the computer-generated #10 GoDaddy car near the #00 Aarons car that no longer exists. It's obvious what the advertising priority is.

The Loose Wheel said...

This deal, as I explained to Kenny Wallace on FB, was a no brainer for Tommy Baldwin. The system in place is flawed and severely broken but no one inside NASCAR or any race team inside the top 35 will admit it. TBR gets support from this, but if anyone really thinks SHR cars will magically appear in his shop to help Reuti, they should think again. TBR does get help but it doesn't make them better per say.

My prediction though is simple that once this season is over, SHR will buy out TBR's interest in the #10, then both teams will operate independently from then out.

Also, I have to disagree with "'Ol DW". "Franchising" is not good for our sport. It allows the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer. You can still break into the sport and become competitive, Tommy Baldwin's team is actually a success story in that regard, but that is the exception instead of the rule. They still had to over-reach their pocketbooks in the early seasons in order to afford to race every week as they do now. Every owner goes into racing knowing the risk, if you decide to walk away then you shouldn't be entitled to make extra money because your investment went bust. Yes, it was sad when Cale and Junior shut their teams down, but it was their choices to do so. This is the same system that kept a ghost around, albeit on paper, by the name of Bobby Ginn.

Good for Danica I guess. Great for Reutimann. Bummer for Dave Blaney, but the upside to all this is that the cars he will be trying to race in don't look all that strong so by California this will probably all be forgotten. If he misses a race though, I hope the media actually mentions it....

RvNGrammy said...

I don't recall you using the word "sleezy" when other teams bought points.

AveryNH said...

You pretty much painted Baldwin as a greedy owner with the likes of Hendrick with this article. Baldwin did nothing wrong. I'm not quite sure what the sponsor details are when David is in the car but i assume it's minimal to none. A two car team with barely any sponsorship will do what it can to survive and hunt for a sponsor. I guess I echo D.W.s point. But then again he did give david his first shot in the trucks. And at this point the media hysteria for danica is a given. She's the biggest new thing since Gordon. So we shall have to deal until the novelty wears off.

SD80MAC said...

NASCAR needs to stop this smoke-and-mirrors back door method of getting new teams into races. The Owner's Points rule needs to be to Use Them or Lose Them. I think it is acceptable when a car number is changed, such as MWR changing the 00 to 55. But the MWR 15 and the SHR 10 should have to race their way in. And while we are talking about it, let's just get rid of the Top 35 rule. I am a Danica Patrick fan. But I don't think anyone should be able to buy their way into a race unless they buy a defunct team such as Red Ball.

Bobby said...

When David Reutimann rolls to the track at Phoenix in the TBR #10 car, that will be a car guaranteed in the field, and I wonder if this former winner of a NASCAR major will benefit in the races he gets a shot to race. Could there be extra finances involved too? And we know what happened last year when SHR sent pit crew support to Furniture Row -- they won the Rebel.

Tracy D said...

When has money NOT driven the bus? Hope TBR hauled in a ton of cash they can use to ratchet up their program. Good for Baldwin.

Anonymous said...

Anyone involved in this disgusting spectacle should be ashamed of themselves. The Fans are being played as complete fools. I can't help but think of the dozens of talented drivers at our local tracks that can drive circles (no pun intended) around Ms. Patrick who deserve a break. Yet Danica is making millions off this folly. I hope there is blowback from the fans.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Granny,

They are not just buying points. SHR will provide the car, the driver and the crew chief for Ms. Danica's races.

What DW and the others want us to do is pretend it's fine since it brings more money to the sport. That's a toss-up.

JD

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
It is what it is ...only time will tell what impact and effect this none-too-subtle 'arrangement' will have down the road ...but the 'untent' (veri-word) is obvious
Walter

The Mad Man said...

If Brian France thinks that having NASCAR's celebrity spokesmodel in the 500 (or any race for that matter) is going to save NASCAR from itself, he is deluding himself. All hype, no substance.

glenc1 said...

I think TBR (of whom I am a fan) will benefit greatly. As he said on Racehub, they're used to having to race their way in anyways, and Dave is very good at it (and pershaps Dave's 'prize' is the deal with Ryan). And it's not like it's a new thing to buy a ride for the 500, that's been going on for years. So no, I would not call it sleazy in comparison to many other deals that have been made, as Granny points out. I think the *media's* obsession with Danica is contributing to the situation. It's the same with the Tebow thing...everyone keeps talking about the fact that that 'everyone else' is talking about it, without acknowledging that they're part of the 'everyone'. In this case there was actually 'news' but that has not always been so. Personally I hope she races her way in so the point is moot (and I think that's likely). I rarely agree with DW, but I think his point about it being 'insurance' is valid. This is plate racing, after all.

I will say that no, I don't like the buying of points, and I wish NASCAR would put a stop to it, but until they do it's every man for himself (or herself). Tommy's doing what he has to do to survive.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Glen,

When have you ever seen an HMS equipped team "outsource" driver, car and crew chief?

Please don't compare this to point swapping or buying a number for a Daytona ride. Apples and oranges!

JD

AncientRacer said...

Danica, Danica, Danica and Danica. Danica is always better with a bit of Danica. For variety Danica your Danica with an extra dash of Danica; and don't forget to add fresh Danica to the Danica before you put the Danica in the Danica.

A splendid Danica is guranteed for all.

PS: My veri-word is "fring", as in Gustavo Fring for those of you who are "Breaking Bad" fans. Makes me wonder if adding some Danica is Walter White's secret ingredient ;)

SD80MAC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SD80MAC said...

Just heard this on SiriusXM NASCAR...The deal with Stewart Haas and Tommy Baldwin is similar to the deal for the 2011 Daytona 500 that got Trevor Bayne a guaranteed spot in that race. Petty was apparently listed as an owner on the 21 car for that race. The difference being that this deaaal runs for the entire 2012 season instead of one race.

Regardless of who has done points swapping deals in the past to get a driver into the Daytona 500, the process needs to stop. The car owner should be required to use the points or lose them.

I hope anyone reading this who is on the NASCAR Fan Council will post to the Council to change the rule.

anonymous internet gnius said...

glen, editor

brad k was driving hms chevys when he drove the 09 for finch. at that time finch ran dodges in the non-brad races.

see jayski 2009 finch archive.

Fed UP said...

Until Nascar outlaws point swaps, its going to continue to happen. Doesn't matter who is going to be driving.

Do I think that DP will succeed? No. I think that she's all hype, with little talent, however, I would like for her to win at least one race a year. Fuel milage or not.

Glad to see that Reuty will be able to race this year, he got a RAW DEAL from MRW and DW.

OSBORNK said...

I am not terribly bothered about the purchase of a starting position for Danica to drive for Hendrick in the 500. I am concerned about how she will be treated by the other drivers because she is so "special". I suspect they will get direct or implied instructions to treat her gently because she is so important for the sport and she needs to complete races so people will watch.

GinaV24 said...

iworkhere said... "so the sport is changing into a production".

Can i just say how much that turns me off? Racertainment rather than real racing, ugh.

I've been invited out for the Sunday that the 500 will run. Ordinarily I'd say I want to watch the race -- of course right now, I'm not all that inclined to watch it as of right now.

DW continues to speak only the party line - am I surprised? No.

But it doesn't make me take any words that come out of his mouth seriously.

glenc1 said...

Looks like apples and apples to me--if it's all about money as your headline indicates, how is this any more unfair or sleazy than any other kind of points buying? Guess we just disagree on that.

I understood what Tommy said last night. It will not be his cars or his crew. It will be his points, and only his points, for a price. He can then take that money they're paying him, build some better cars (and perhaps with some better engines), run better and hopefully attract some sponsors with those better runs; and continue to build his organization--that's just business. I didn't say I loved it, I thought NASCAR should have stopped this points buying long ago (particularly after the Ginn deal)...but right now they're all just playing by NASCAR's current rules. We know how the satellite teams work; the rich get richer, and guys like Tommy & Joe Nemechek suffer for it. But it's not new (and as others have pointed out, not that original). I don't root for HMS or its teams. But racing has always taken money, and once one starts, the rest just try and keep up. Other sports 'solved' this with salary caps and such, but there will always be the haves & have nots. It just strikes me as funny that Tommy gets portrayed as the bad guy, when the money came from SHR via Go Daddy (a la Danica). And the engines & technology, once again, come from Rick Hendrick, who with Chevy, started all this to begin with. with his SHR satellite team. And it isn't secretive except to the 'casual' fan we're always maligning.

Oldirtracker said...

I could care less about all of this, I just hope it helps David Reutiman finish ahead of all the (im a major nascar kissa$$)Michael Waltrip racing entries. I cannot believe Fox is putting this jerk in the booth. Two Waltips, the triple B word and that damn gopher is enough for me thank god for a mute button, and MRN.

Shayne Flaherty said...

When Danica drives the SHR #10 car, it's HMS top shelf equipment.

When Reutimann drives the TBR #10, it's EGR equipment.

Two different cars, one number. Has this been done before?

I remember when DW had his own struggling team, the #35 Tabasco car. DW had to buy a ride because he couldn't qualify his own car. I think it was Charlotte. DW did it to save face.

We've had media hype long before Danica, just ask ole DW.

Anonymous said...

It was done in the Nationwide series last year. For some races, the #70 was ML Motorsports and driven by Shelby Howard or David Stremme. For the races they didn't run, Jay Robinson Racing fielded the car usually driven by Dennis Setzer or Mark Green. It was still listed with Mary Louise Miller as the owner though, even when Robinson fielded the car.

Garry said...

I agree with Osbornk: She will be treated the same as the 12 drivers from Richmond on.... She's a Chase Driver at Daytona! Gasp! Personally, Jennifer Jo Cobb is a better driver, and I've said it before: Sorry for the chauvanistic approach, but she is WAY BETTER LOOKING than Danican't.

Dennis said...

Yes, the points move is a bit of a sham. It interferes with how we perceive the relationship between a car number and the owner/team. Which one is the "real" number 10?

Nevertheless, the sun will come up the next day after the race has been run. While I'd prefer 1 car per team/owner and only allow the top 43 in qualifying to run, the truth is there is still good racing. There are lots of stories to pay attention to. We have drivers we love. Drivers we hate. Drivers we pay no attention to at all.

It all comes together to make something we care about. I'll be watching the Daytona 500 with keen interest. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

I'm from Danica Patrick's part of the country. I root for local drivers that have moved up. I am a Matt Kenseth fan. The politics of NASCAR are there for all to see. I hope Danica is successful.The question I have is, will Kahne win before and more often than Jr.? Kahne is in his first year at HMS while Jr. is in his 3rd. Will Danica pull off a better finish at Daytona? Anything can happen at a plate race! It would be good for all involved. The losers in this are guys like Nemechek. NASCAR wants the TV ratings to get better. NASCAR can throw the yellow flag at any point. The fuel mileage game may get real interesting this season!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comments today. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to share your opinion.

SnowdogBob said...

I'm 100% on board with TBR getting paid for their top 35 spot. One selling point to the Top 35 when it was put in place was how Junie Donlavey and Bud Moore left NASCAR getting pennies on the dollar for what they built. This is as close as we can get to Franchising and Tommy deserves the $$$.

The Loose Wheel said...

Snowdog, is Red Bull getting anything for their investment to the sport? Even with 2 top 35 teams no one has stepped up to purchase their equipment. Essentially they are getting pennies on the dollar for their contribution to the sport. As I have said before, "franchising" is bad. It drives the cost of the sport up and doesn't allow smaller teams to flourish unless they play moneyball on credit and hope they hit it soon enough before the hole gets too deep.

Anonymous said...

Uh, why do people keep thinking that Nascar will outlaw the points buying?
I hate to break it to them, but Nascar if not actually encouraging it, certainly doesn't mind it.
Their view I believe is that what ever is good for the mega teams, is good for Nascar.
Any bets on whether TBR exists after this year? Or, if it does is it anything other than a name disguising another HMS junior team.

The Loose Wheel said...

Annon:

From what I heard on Sirius tonight, it sounds like NASCAR actually is looking into this and changing the format for 2013. They realize that there is something about the system that needs to be addressed.

Take that for what it is worth.

Also random thought: Who started the point buying/swaping nonsense? Our good friend, Micheal Waltrip!

Anonymous said...

So how many test cars does Hendrick have on the track now? Let's see he's got his 5 cars, 2 Stewart-Haas cars, TBR. That's 8 cars they've got on the track at one time. Talk about competitive unbalance. Hendrick Motorsports makes all these cars if they want to try anything different they've got 4 more cars to try it out on before they bring that information to their teams. Nascar these days is a joke.

Damon said...

Lost JD's usual snobby attitude towards Danica in his articles is the fact that TREVOR BAYNE was locked into the 2011 Daytona 500 using RPM's owners points for the 19 car.

I guess that's okay though since nobody knew anything about him before Speedweeks last year enough to spew hatred toward his or the Wood Brothers direction like has been the case with Danica.

Folks, this move IS NOT about the Daytona 500, it IS, however...about making sure Danica gets all the seat time/experience possible in Cup cars she can in her 10 racesthis year to prepare her for 2013 when she runs Cup full-time.

Charlie Spencer said...

What I don't get is why Stewart-Haas didn't buy the points from the defunct #4 or #83 from Red Bull. They then could have just as easily renumbered the team to #10 and had Tommy Baldwin handle the non-Danica races. I just don't like seeing Dave Blaney dumped on.

The Loose Wheel said...

Charlie, the reason that did not happen is because Red Bull refuses to sell any assets separately. For SHR to "buy" points they would have had to absorb all of Red Bull as a team. Meaning they would have the #4 and the #83 points to distribute. From my understanding the language of the rule says that an owner cannot be a part of more than 4 teams. Since Red Bull only had one owner, SHR would be able to add a car, but Red Bull would only have been able to transfer those points to another single car team. And that team would essentially be banned from having a 2nd car at all in 2012.

I assume since Tommy Baldwin has said Reutimann will only run the 26 races Danica is not in the car, that NASCAR has told TBR and SHR that they can only run 2 cars each. Somewhat complicated explanation, but I think that's why.

Someone feel free to set me straight if I'm off base. Long story short, Red Bull has said you either buy everything (cars, building, points, etc.) or nothing.

And as for the whole Bayne thing, I have NEVER liked the point swap thing. Danica or not.

Charlie Spencer said...

Loose Wheel, thanks. I was unaware of Red Bull's conditions.

Newracefan said...

The Danica part is an afterthought for me for two reasons. David Reutimann comes out ahead after being screwed over by MWR and Tommy Baldwin. Tommy is one of the only start up teams I've seen do a start and part senerio the right way and was eventually rewarded with a top 35 ride that he could parlay into even more money for his team to grow. Now if FOX beats me over the head with Danica I may have to revise my position somewhat and unfortunately they probably will

The Loose Wheel said...

You're welcome Charlie. And now Red Bull has finally sold off their assets and the points have thus changed hands if reports are accurate.