Penske buys Kranefuss' share

Penske buys Kranefuss' share of No. 12 Ford By Dave Rodman MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 10, 2000) Penske Racing South announced Monday that its organization had purchased the 50 percent share of Penske-Kranefuss Racing held by team founder Michael ...

Penske buys Kranefuss' share of No. 12 Ford
By Dave Rodman

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 10, 2000) Penske Racing South announced Monday that its organization had purchased the 50 percent share of Penske-Kranefuss Racing held by team founder Michael Kranefuss.

Kranefuss first competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with the team he formed with Carl Haas for the 1995 season. He can now take advantage of the move to accelerate his plans to advance his MK Racing team into the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with its driver, NASCAR veteran Shawna Robinson.

The announcement by Penske Performance South, Inc., indicated the purchase is effective immediately. Driver Jeremy Mayfield will remain as the driver of the team's No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford Tauruses for the final five races of the NASCAR 2000 season. A spokesman for Mayfield said the driver had two years remaining on his contract with the team and he had "no plans to go anywhere."

"As far as plans for 2001. . .they have not been addressed in any specific manner," said Penske spokesman Dan Luginbuhl, when reached outside the country Tuesday. "At this point in time that is all there to announce."

Mayfield's spokesman Chip Williams also said a Mobil 1 representative told team members in a meeting this week that it had no plans to leave the operation. Mayfield has won two races this season under the direction of crew chief Peter Sospenzo. Their season, however, has been troubled by two NASCAR penalties for technical violations and injuries suffered by Mayfield that caused him to miss two races in August.

Mayfield is currently 24th in NWCS driver points and Kranefuss is listed 22nd in NWCS owner points.

The team will now be known Penske Racing, LLC. Walter P. Czarnecki, vice-chairman of Penske Performance South, Inc., has been elected president of the company. The Penske organization purchased its interest in Kranefuss' team in the off-season between the 1997 and 1998 campaigns.

In conjunction with last weekend's races at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Penske Racing announced defending USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series open-wheel standout Ryan Newman, who has won three races in his rookie season in the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series, would drive 23 races in three different stock car series in 2001 for Penske, in No. 02 Fords with sponsorship from ALLTEL.

The team announced the program of NASCAR Winston Cup, NASCAR Busch Series and ARCA races would be undertaken in preparation to Newman becoming a teammate to Penske Racing South Miller Lite Ford driver Rusty Wallace in the NWCS in 2002. Newman, 22, plans to make his NWCS debut on Nov. 5 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Tuesday's announcement indicated Kranefuss would remain a member of the team for the remainder of the NASCAR Winston Cup season, but the role of the man who was the head of Ford's worldwide racing efforts for 25 years has not been fully defined, his spokesman said.

Kranefuss is currently the principal of MK Racing, which fields Robinson in No. 8 Kmart Kids Against Drugs Fords in the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series, where she is seventh in points with one top-5 and eight top-10 finishes in 17 starts. Kranefuss has indicated he would be interested in advancing Robinson to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, possibly as early as 2001.

"This situation offers a unique marketing opportunity for any company looking to capitalize on the large percentage of women who watch NASCAR Winston Cup racing," Kranefuss said. "We are talking with companies about a sponsorship partnership that will allow us to develop her further as a successful driver and will allow the company to develop her further as a one-of-a-kind marketing opportunity in the most popular form of motorsports in this hemisphere."

If things work out the way she and her team hope, Robinson will become the first female to start a NASCAR Winston Cup race in nearly a dozen years, or since Patty Moise ran in the 1989 DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

If she makes the five to seven races the team has planned it would give her more starts than any female in more than 20 years in the major league of stock car racing. If all goes according to Kranefuss and Robinson's plan, in 2002, she would become the first female to run a full NASCAR Winston Cup schedule in the history of the series.

Sara Christian ran six of eight races in the inaugural 1949 NASCAR Strictly Stock division, the forerunner of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. In 1977 Janet Guthrie ran 19 races when the season consisted of 30 events.

"The Winston Cup Series is where I've always wanted to go and where my career has always been headed," Robinson said. "Frankly, we need the financial backing to make it possible. We are actively pursuing sponsorship, and doing everything we can to put a program together.

"To do the testing and to run the races we need, this has to be the right package for our sponsor and for MK Racing. Our plan right now is to run five to seven Winston Cup races; along with up to 14 ARCA races at the same tracks where Winston Cup currently runs next season. We feel that will give us a very strong base for a full Winston Cup schedule starting in 2002."

"Especially considering what can be a somewhat chauvinistic attitude among some drivers, Shawna has performed remarkably well this season," Kranefuss said of his latest 'project.' "She and the team have gone to tracks they have never even seen before, practiced for two hours and turned in remarkable performances.

"At the first of the year, she was referred to as 'the girl driver.' Now I keep hearing, 'Hear comes that damned 8 car.' That tells me how far she has progressed."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield , Rusty Wallace , Shawna Robinson , Ryan Newman , Janet Guthrie , Carl Haas
Teams Williams , Team Penske