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Gas 'n Go: Money behind Marlin move
Eric from Asheville, N.C.: Jeff, your book, titled Real Men Work in the Pits, made me think of Sterling Marlin. I was shocked when Ginn Racing announced that he was out of the No. 14. Knowing that he began his racing career by working in the pits, how would you describe his character and commitment? Secondly, what kind of a "real man" is Bobby Ginn to release him halfway through the season? Jeff Hammond: Sterling has always been special to me. When I was coming up through the ranks working with Walter Ballard, Elmo Langley and the independent drivers of that time I got to know Sterling because of his dad, Coo Coo. We would race at the old Nashville Speedway, in particular, and Sterling would change tires. We had some friendly competition between our group of independent changers that would go up against Sterling's group. He always had his buddies over there, racing around a little quarter mile. It was always a lot of fun. Being ex-jocks, we talked about football a lot. Seeing him graduate from mechanic to driver, I always pulled for him to be successful, racing for Junior Johnson, Larry McClure and all of the different owners for whom he's driven throughout his entire career.
But we all know that there's going to be a day when the opportunities and, sometimes, the desire may not be quite as great as they once were. Unfortunately, it's gotten to that point in Sterling's career. I hope people will not be too hard on Sterling or Bobby Ginn because it's part of our sport that eventually catches up with every driver, whether it's Harry Gant, Bill Elliott, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace or now Sterling Marlin. An old cliche is "time marches on," and, it looks like that's what's happening here. I'm not defending Ginn, but if you can't get sponsorship, you can't run a Nextel Cup team out of your pocket. Unless you've got the backing of Fort Knox, you can't do it. Any owner whether it's Rick Hendrick, Jack Roush or Ginn will tell you the costs to run a race team are astronomical. Per race, it's about $300,000 for one team. It doesn't take very long to realize if you're running one and sometimes two teams Joe Nemechek's No. 13 you go through a lot of money in a relatively short period of time. And we're just talking about operating costs, not factoring in crashes or other misfortune happening along the way. You can't just keep running without sufficient sponsorship. It's unfortunate because is the No. 13 and No. 14 have raced their way into the top 35 this year. Don't fault Ginn's effort because they've had good equipment and made good efforts this year. Just past the halfway point of the season, if you still can't get the necessary sponsorship to take care of these guys and maintain these teams, you've got to adjust. That's just good business. Ginn already cut back in the Busch Series and a lot of other areas, but sooner or later, you've got to address a big drain on your operation. One race car the No. 01 cannot support two others
Lucky No. 13Michelle from Coralville, Iowa: What would have happened at Indy if Ginn didn't field the No. 13 or another team doesn't "purchase the points" for the car number? Would only 34 cars be locked in or would the car in 36th in the owner points be locked in to get the total to 35? Jeff Hammond: The 36th car in points would move up if the entry hadn't been filled. It would have been a mistake on Ginn Racing's part not to enter the car because it's guaranteed a starting spot. Don't get me wrong. Chevrolet would have been offended if that number went to a Dodge, Ford or Toyota so it probably had to be a Chevy entry.
|Speed Mail Jeff Hammond|
Elliott controls destinyNick from Huber Heights City, Ohio: With the Wood Brothers giving approval to Ken Schrader to drive for BAM Racing, is it possible that the Woods will keep Bill Elliott, even after he breaks into the top 35? Jeff Hammond: That has a lot to do with Bill Elliott. He's done a really good job, and it looks like Bill's having fun. The Wood Brothers are having a little bit more fun than they used to have as the figure out what the former champ needs on certain racetracks. Elliott has done such a masterful job of stepping up and getting the car in on speed like it's supposed to be done. He can still wheel a race car and get the job done. There's nobody else out there that would fit with that combination at the moment so it's in Bill's court to decide how much he wants to do. His son is busy right now. Chase is running a lot of races around the country, including Charlotte. How much Bill's Cup racing helps or takes away from his son's schedule has a lot to do with it.
FOX race analyst Jeff Hammond led
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