Chances are, a lot of readers reading this blog post right now, either have purchased a Powerball ticket or will by a Powerball ticket for Saturday night’s record-making estimated $900 million (forecasted to possibly increase to $1 billion) jackpot.
When contemplating (ahem. . . dreaming) of what to do with such a lump of cash, I’m guessing the top of a lot of NASCAR fans’ lists would be buying or starting a race team. Hey, it’s been done before. Remember Joe Denette? He the guy who won a Mega Millions jackpot several years ago and used a big chunk of those winnings to start a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team.
There’s a saying among NASCAR team ownership that goes something like, “If you want to make a small fortune as a NASCAR team owner, the key is to start with a big one.” I’m thinking $900 million would qualify as a pretty big one.
Would you follow in his footsteps? If so, where to start. Questions to answer include in what series do I start? Single-car or multi-car team? I need personnel. What driver(s) to I go after? Crew chief? Pit crew members?
There are many more personnel position to fill on a race team, but we’ll start with the basics. Here’s how I’d go about it.
Denette’s jackpot was a paltry $75 million or so. Okay, so that sum isn’t exactly paltry, but you have to admit, compared to $800 million, it pales in comparison. So, why not start at the top? In this fantasy world of mine, I’m going to go all out and start a two-car Sprint Cup Series program.
As far as manufacturers go (oh, that’s something I didn’t even mention, above), I’ll just open things up to the highest bidder. Maybe some top-notch existing team will offer some kind of partnership, and of course, that would require I mirror its manufacturer of choice. Well, I’m dreaming here, so why not go all out and pretend someone else already wants a partnership with me before I even put a car on the track. It’s unlikely, but then again, so is me winning that $900 million.
Next, lets think about drivers. Imagine any driver is up for grabs and any driver would jump at the opportunity. Okay, yeah, I’m continuing to dream, here. Which route should I take? Do I go with popularity with the hopes of making the sponsor search easier? Sure, I have $900 million, but that’s a pre-tax amount. I alsoo don’t want to go broke in those early growing years. Running a top-notch Sprint Cup Series team isn’t cheap, and I don’t want to cut corners. I want to give my team everything it needs to run up front week-in and week-out. Dale Earnhardt Jr. would fit that bill. And for attracting potential sponsors, so would Danica Patrick. Okay, I can see eyes rolling with the mention of Patrick.
I’m not going that route, though. I’m going to make my decisions strictly for competition purposes. Novel idea, don’t ya think? And since I’m starting a two-car team, here, I think I’ll go with one veteran and one “young gun” to develop.
Okay — drum roll, please — I’m going to go with Joey Logano and Erik Jones. Yeah, it’s weird to thank as Logano as a veteran. I mean, the guy’s under the age of 30. Still, he’s been around a few years and has proven himself to be a serious championship contender at least the last two of those years.
Sure, Jones only has a handful of Sprint Cup starts, well, not really even a handful. Still, I think the 2015 Camping World Truck Series champion is the real deal. I believe his chances of making it at the Sprint Cup level is far greater than my chances were of winning that $800 million, so humor me. There is that risk of moving him up too soon. Logano recovered from that, though, and I’m thinking Jones can too, if it is too early.
Now, we need to hire a couple of crew chiefs. Given Logano’s performance of the past couple of seasons, I’d hate to break of the pairing of Logano and Todd Gordon, so I’m going to bring Gordon onboard, too. Another advantage — no getting to know each other period for driver and crew chief.
As for Jones’ crew chief, I’m going with Darian Grubb. Grubb’s not really a crew chief anymore, I don’t guess, considering his new, recently-announced position at Hendrick Motorsports. But in my fantasy, Grubb is still a crew chief, and he’s going to be my crew chief. Grubb has been released from a couple of different teams in recent years, but it wasn’t for a lack of performance. Heck, he was kicked out at Stewart-Haas Racing as a champion crew chief in 2011. Then, after arriving at Joe Gibbs Racing, he kept Denny Hamlin in the championship conversation for multiple years before being moved to Gibbs’ new No. 19 last year to get Carl Edwards into the Chase. I think that’s a quality resume.
As for pit crews, I’m going to raid the Joe Gibbs Racing staff list some more. I’m not sure which two pit crews I’m going to take. But whichever two I take, maybe they’ll at least fill me in one what they do to those air guns in the JGR pits.
I realize pit crews aren’t assembled in this mannter. Instead, crew members are hired individually. But for simplicity’s sake, I decided to consider crews as a whole. Nothing about this fantasy situation is conventional, anyway.
For those who’ve purchased tickets or will purchase tickets before Saturday’s drawing, good luck. As a former Kentucky Lottery saying went, “Someone’s gotta win, might as well be you.”
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