Jeff Meyer · Wednesday September 28, 2005
We all know that the 'Silly Season' is no longer a season; it is all year long. In fact, a more appropriate name would be 'Garage BS 2005.' This year, especially, it has been piling up higher than a Hendrick car after post-race inspection, as the gossip around the garage area never seems to be able to slow down.
One of the more ridiculous sagas for the '05 season has been the Ganassi/McMurray/Roush/Martin and Busch (sounds like a nasty lawfirm) Comedy Hour. In case you slipped on a spilt beverage and have been unconscious under the grandstands for the last few months, I will attempt to bring you up to green flag speed on the insanity.
Back in July, Jamie McMurray signed a contract with Roush Racing to drive the #6 Viagra Ford, starting with the 2007 season. McMurray couldn't start in '06 because he will still be under contract with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, and Ganassi refused to release him a year early.
"The option for Jamie is exercised," said Tyler Epp, Ganassi's team manager not all that long ago. "Unless something tragic happens, he will be in the #42 next year driving for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates."
do a good job of conveying to Jamie where this team is headed, but we
expect a lot of success with Jamie the rest of this year and next
year," said Sabates when interviewed on the matter.
Actually Felix, you did do a good job of conveying where the team is headed. You guys suck, and McMurray knows it. He wanted to sign with a winner in Roush Racing; but that is just my opinion, of course.
Meanwhile, Mark Martin, who had planned to retire from the Cup scene at the end of this season, felt obligated to be the one to hand the keys over to McMurray and, as a personal favor to Jack Roush, agreed to drive one more year.
In August, reigning Cup Champ Kurt Busch, not wanting to be left out of the spotlight, announced that he was leaving Roush to drive the Penske #2 car to be vacated by Rusty Wallace at the end of the '05 season. The problem, as with McMurray, is that Busch is under contract through 2006 with Roush and cannot drive the Miller Lite Dodge until 2007.
Busch's defection, of course, delighted the Ganassi/Sabates boys, who basically began sticking their tongues out and saying "Nanner! Nanner! Nanner!" to Jack Roush every time he walked by.
Roush, ever the cool 'Cat in the Hat' guy that he is, didn't fly off the handle and make a commitment to exercise the remaining year on Busch's contract as Ganassi did with McMurray. Jack left himself some wiggle room instead, and has until mid-October to make that decision, which now looks as if it could pay off huge (in cash anyway)!
According to the soon-to-be-retired Rusty Wallace, a vast team of lawyers, the likes of which could fill the new 'Rusty Wallace Grandstand' at Bristol Motor Speedway, is looking for ways to free Busch of his 'Jack Shackles' even as we speak (or you read as the case may be).
"I know he wants to drive the car next year," Wallace said. "They're trying to get everything worked out."
The word from the garage is that the lawyers in question prefer the word 'buyout' as opposed to 'payoff,' and that they have just about reached Jack's number. It wouldn't surprise me if that number is just about the same as Jack's phone number, area code included.
So, what it all boils down to is; Penske will get what they want. Roush will get lots of cash, but will now have to find a driver for the 97 (hey if Kurt wants to go, let him!) and Ganassi will still have a program that basically still sucks with a driver that doesn't want to be there. Ganassi is the one who will be taking it in the shorts in the long run.
"You know Jamie is probably the most sought after driver in the cup garage...we're fortunate enough to have him signed up for '07," said Mark Martin.
It's really too bad that Ganassi is so stubborn. Maybe if he had used his brain, and McMurray as a bargaining chip, he could have negotiated a 'buyout' as Jack is, and used the money to improve his whole program.
One side note to this sordid saga I do not like is the fact that now Roush is saying there is a possibility of McMurray going into the #97. That would be an insult to Mark Martin. Martin agreed to do a favor for Jack and felt he should be the one to hand over the car to McMurray. I hope Mark doesn't get jacked around!
Stay off the wall, (but look over it to see if any cash fell out of Jack's pocket!)
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