As Busch Grand National teams prepare to get ready for their season opener in Daytona, the future remains uncertain for several drivers. Mike McLaughlin, who finished fourth in the 2002 points standings, announced in October that after being ...
As Busch Grand National teams prepare to get ready for their season opener in Daytona, the future remains uncertain for several drivers.
Mike McLaughlin, who finished fourth in the 2002 points standings, announced in October that after being released from Joe Gibbs Racing he would team with 2000 Champion Chew Chief Harold Holly and newcomers Angela Motorsports.
Purchasing equipment from Robert Yates, the new team proved they were a contender as they hit the top twenty in speed at this years Daytona testing.
As fast as "Magic Shoes" was at Daytona, he was not as fast as the bouncing of multiple payroll and vendor checks issued by the new owners. The owners, Angela Harkness and Gary Jones, apparently never had the required financial backing to start the season. Shortly after testing, Robert Yates re-claimed his equipment and Angela Motorsports shut down.
"First and foremost, we are all very disheartened by what has transpired the last few days. Harold Holly, Clyde McLeod and I have all worked very hard to put together a championship team. Harold has assembled a group of people that have worked endless hours to build the team. Despite what has happened, the team is waiting for the next opportunity that will allow us to continue to pursue our goal. I have never seen this kind of dedication under these circumstances. Robert Yates has been great in trying to keep this team intact." Notes McLaughlin.
Shortly after the team shut down, McLaughlin and his wife were interviewed for XM's NASCAR Radio. The response to the interview was overwhelming, as a many fans interested in getting the New York driver to Daytona started a grass roots movement. Many sent offers of personal donations for financial support.
Realizing that this was a small window of opportunity, McLaughlin secured the use of the car he tested in Daytona. He is listed as a teammate to Derrike Cope for Jay Robinson Racing, and has launched Hopes and Dreams 2003.
This is a fan-based attempt to fund the team at the Koolerz 300 at Daytona. Fans interested in helping out may contact. The Mike McLaughlin Fan Club, PO Box 45 Waterloo New York. 13165
"This has been a very tough week for all of us involved with the team but I am not going to let this defeat me," McLaughlin said. "I have to follow my heart and do everything possible to win the Koolerz 300."
Another driver facing staying home during Speed Weeks is Hank Parker Jr. The two-time series winner looked as if he had landed with Roush Racing. He tested with the team, indicating that they were close to signing a sponsor.
Shortly after the Daytona test it was announced that the potential sponsor, Trim Spa, signed with Brewco Motorsports, leaving Parker the odd man out.
Indications are that if sponsorship can be found, Parker could still find himself part of the Roush camp. However, this close to the season opener that seems highly unlikely.
New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr has been slated to run for Chance 2 Motorsports, a team co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr and Teresa Earnhardt. The team will compete in selected BGN competitions, with Truex running five to eight events. Truex has a career total of five BGN starts and a best finish of seventeenth, at last Junes MBNA 200 at Dover International Speedway.
Others taking the wheel for the team will include Earnhardt Jr and Steve Park. The team will also attempt specific Cup events with BGN regular Jason Keller aiming to make the field in Chicago.
The 2003 season gets under way February 15th at The Daytona International Speedway but there still remains a great deal of off track activity weeks prior to the dropping of the green flag.
-Thomas Chemris, guest writer