When you’re not in contention for a series championship and not expected to return to the same team the following year, you’re apparently relegated to team guinea pig in the NASCAR world. Or at least that seems to be what has happened to Nationwide Series regular Brian Scott.
The idea, or at least some form of it, is by no means new to the NASCAR world. The same thing often happens within multi-car teams at the Sprint Cup level after the Chase for the Sprint Cup gets underway when at least one driver/car in said organization makes the Chase and one or more does not. It’s understandable. After all, championships are of utmost importance, and this is just a way of helping the driver/car in the title hunt get the organization that much-wanted championship.
In the case of Scott on Saturday in the Nationwide race at Kansas Speedway, I think Joe Gibbs Racing was looking ahead to next year. Apparently, someone at JGR came up with some kind of new setup the organization wanted to try. Trying it out on the No. 18 car, driven at Kansas by Joey Logano, wasn’t an option. No, Logano’s not racing for a championship in the series, but the No. 18 is going after the circuit’s owner’s title. That relegated Scott and the No. 11 team to JGR guinea pigs, so to speak.
Those who saw Saturday’s Nationwide race know by now that the setup didn’t work. As a matter-of-fact, it was pretty much a disaster. It kind of made me feel sorry for Scott, it was so bad.
The race was caution-filled anyway, so much so that the yellow flag waved a race-record 12 times on the newly-repaved Kansas Speedway surface. Still, it was hard to see the same driver, namely Scott, responsible for three cautions early in the race with single-car incidents. Yes, Scott brought out the yellow flag three-times in the first 57 laps, all by himself. He managed to not hit anything the first couple of times, but this “experimental setup” finally did him in on lap 57 when his third spin of the race ended with contact with the wall.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not criticizing Joe Gibbs Racing for some late-season experimentation. That type of thing is necessary for continued improvement to a race team. But still, it kind of makes me feel a little sorry for the driver/team that gets elected team guinea pigs, whether it be because they have no shot at the championship that year or said driver isn’t returning to the team next year.
Oh well, only three more races to go until Scott moves on to another team — wherever that may be — and can get back to trying to win races instead of serving as team test subject.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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