Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday July 3, 2008
The Boston Herald reported Monday that New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss is set to debut his Craftsman Truck Series team, “Randy Moss Motorsports,” during the Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway on July 19th. In that article, the Herald also claimed Moss bought a large chunk of Morgan-Dollar Motorsports and will be fielding the No. 81 — the same number he wears for the Patriots — with a “prominent Sprint Cup driver behind the wheel.” The “official” announcement is scheduled to be made this afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
But as we wait for the news, one big question remains unanswered — who will be Moss’ first Truck Series driver? When I read about this Monday night, the gears started turning in my head as I tried to figure out who could possibly end up behind the wheel of the No. 81 Chevrolet. At least Moss himself gave us a clue; he’s looking for a Sprint Cup veteran to jumpstart his program while he works on finding the right full-time driver to put in the seat.
Hmm … what current Cup regular could slide into Moss’ ride? Kyle Busch was out, because when he races a truck, he drives for Billy Ballew Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon just didn’t seem to fit the bill, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has plenty going on with JR Motorsports outside of his Cup Series obligations.
Then, it hit me — what about Tony Stewart? He has one of those names that people will recognize, even if they don’t follow NASCAR on a regular basis. While it seems to make more sense for Randy Moss Motorsports to choose a Sprint Cup driver that’s already in Chevy’s stables, prior to this year, Tony Stewart has spent many years behind the wheel of a car with a bowtie. And with the rumors floating around that Chevy has agreed to buy Stewart out of his Joe Gibbs Racing ride so he can move to Haas CNC Racing, this would be the perfect opportunity to for him to get back behind the wheel of a Chevrolet-backed team.
Beyond Stewart’s Chevrolet connections, the veteran has already driven for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports in the past. In 2004, he piloted the No. 47 Acxiom Chevrolet from a starting position of 10th to finish 3rd. Then, the following year, Stewart was behind the wheel of the No. 47 at Charlotte — where he had his only Truck Series DNF — and Dover, where he finished 2nd.
Of course, Stewart’s not the only Cup Series veteran who’s driven for MDM. I tried to use the theory of Sprint Cup drivers who have previously driven for owners Rob Morgan and David Dollar — and came up with a list that includes Kyle Busch, Robby Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip, J.J. Yeley, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, and Joe Nemechek. But even considering all those possibilities, Tony Stewart still remains as the most recognizable name that’s available to drive.
Excited with the prospect of Stewart possibly returning behind the wheel in the Craftsman Truck Series — even if it winds up being only in my head — I started to look at his Truck Series statistics. In six starts, Stewart has finished outside the Top 10 just once; drivetrain problems caused him to drop out early at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 2005. But if you don’t include that DNF, Stewart carries an average Truck Series finish of 3.4, along with two wins for current ESPN broadcaster Andy Petree — one each in 2002 and 2003.
My thoughts may be completely off base, but Tony Stewart sure seems to be the perfect fit for the ride. Eventually, Randy Moss wants to focus on bringing young drivers into the series and helping them gain experience, in hopes of an eventual move to a higher series of NASCAR; but he has made it very clear that he wants to start with a veteran to get his team established first. Well, Stewart has the extensive NASCAR knowledge Moss needs, and would be able to give the No. 81 a great debut and a great start for the team.
And beyond that, wouldn’t it be great to see him race in the Truck Series again?
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