The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: Will the Roush/Busch/Penske saga be the last straw for race fans? by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday August 17, 2005

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By now, it is old news that Kurt Busch has signed on with Penske to drive the #2 Miller Lite Dodge in 2007. What I find particularly disgusting is the fact that it is souvenir sales, of all things, that helped sway Busch's mind, and even give him the lugnuts to ask to get out of his current contract with Jack Roush a year early.

Busch told Jack that he had a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity when he asked to be released from his 2006 obligations. Jack basically replied that he doubted he would release Kurt early, but said he would check with his sponsors first.

To me, and the voices that are responsible for the content of most of my articles, this whole saga is just one more example, perhaps the worst, of how NASCAR is so far removed from actual racing that I'm feeling the urge to puke. It is a feeling much like I've had too much of Busch's future sponsor and I'm looking for the nearest bucket! (Like I would drink that stuff anyway!)

Of course, all the details have yet to present themselves, but to me, Kurt Busch has shown that, in his mind anyway, it is more important to sell hats than it is to win races or championships. Is this what truly motivates the new generation of drivers? Has the marketing aspect of sponsorship finally become so much more important than actually doing good on the race track?

Unlike Jamie McMurray's move to Roush from Ganassi, Busch's move can only be about money. There is no other way to figure it. Kurt Busch is the reigning champ. He is driving for an owner whose stable has won the last two championships, and currently has 4 of his 5 cars in contention for a third, one of which is Busch himself. I always thought these guys did it for the LOVE of the sport and the lust to win. Kurt Busch must be a new kind of racer. When was the last time a Penske team won a Championship?

However, as disgusting as this all may seem, I also see it as a chance for the TRUE RACE FAN to make a statement to NASCAR, Kurt Busch and corporate sponsors, and perhaps, if we stick together, take back a little part of our beloved sport and begin a move back toward actual racing. (The best part is that we're dealing with future Kurt Busch/Miller Lite stuff here, so it shouldn't be all that hard!)

Surely, Miller Lite had some say in Busch's signing. They must be betting on the fact that as the reigning champ, Busch in the #2 car will sell more stuff, be it beer or hats. I say we as race fans show them how wrong they are, and all do our part to make this one of the biggest sponsorship snafus of all time. How? Simple as not buying their crap!

All you Miller Lite drinkers out there have to decide a couple of things; 1. Do I drink it because of the taste? or, 2. Because I like Rusty Wallace? (Or 3. None of the above, but I'm not worried about you number 3s right now.)  If you are a 1, you are going to drink it no matter who drives the car and as a race fan, you probably based your souvenir purchases on how cool the item looked and stuck with the items that just featured the number and the logo. You also probably have all you need at this point, and not buying anymore (Souvenirs! Not beer!) will save you money! If you are a 2, well, you are going to stop buying #2 stuff because it is now associated with Kurt Busch and not Rusty Wallace. The rest of us could do something like, I don't know, maybe throw your buddy's new #2 Miller Lite/Kurt Busch hat out the window of the car whilst passing over a river!

The simple fact is, the only people who should be buying the new #2 Miller Lite/Kurt Busch stuff is Kurt Busch fans, and how many of those can there be? Have you ever been to a race with a working 'boo meter'? Busch ranks right up there second only to Jeff Gordon. (Don't hate me! I don't boo either one. I'm just stating the facts of every race I've been to!)

In all reality, for years to come, when you see the #2 car, shirt or hat, the first thing that comes to mind will be Rusty Wallace. Think about it, I'll bet you still catch yourself saying Winston Cup don't ya? Ahhhh, the power of marketing!

Stay off the wall (unless your trying to get extra distance with your buddy's new hat!),

Jeff

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MBVoelker
08/18/2005 08:55 AM
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Blind hatred is such a pitiful thing.

Kurt’s no dummy. If it were all about money he’d certainly not only have offered Roush a chance to top Penske’s offer but put the word out to the garage as a whole that the reigning Champion was available for the right price. DEI and Ganassi would probably have bid on him. Maybe Gibbs/FedEx as well.

Not being a mind-reader, I don’t know what Kurt wants from the deal he’s made. But he’s not acting as he would if raw cash were the main objective.
macdaddy
08/18/2005 09:09 AM
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It is all about the almighty dollar these days. The sport has gone sour and i have too. With Terry Labonte, and Bill Elliot retired from full time racing, and the pending retirements of Martin and Wallace at the end of the season, I’m just about through with the whole thing myself. For over 24 years I have followed and supported Nascar Cup racing, but those days are just about over. I guess I’ll hang around long enough to see Ricky Rudd out then I will retire too. Hope you enjoy your souvenir sales, Kurt!
Scott
08/18/2005 10:42 PM
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I love it. Jack Roush is getting his just dessert after the McMurray stunt. Besides, driving for Penske with Newman could create a juggernaut.
Chris
08/19/2005 12:49 AM
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I have been a Rusty Wallace fan for fifteen years, ever since I was a toddler. I must say I am overjoyed knowing the fact that Kurt Busch will be inheriting the legendary #2 ride. Recently, I have followed Kurt Busch for the last few seasons as well as Wallace. I am not what one would consider a “bandwagon fan” and have been supporting Busch and his racing efforts since March of 2002. I must say the move to Penske-South Racing shocked me, but I am not complaining in the least. As far as Kurt’s reasoning, I’m sure money was not the main reason he jumped ship at Roush Racing. As for the comment about “How many Kurt Busch fans can there be?”, just know that even though Kurt may not have many fans, those who do follow him are die-hard, true and loyal. I will always be a Rusty Wallace fan; nothing will change that, just as I will always be a proud Kurt Busch fan; no matter what.
kd97to2
08/19/2005 08:44 AM
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It’s all fun and games to ridicule the guy for taking the money, but truly look in the mirror before you pass judgement. Would you, as a motorsports writer, turn down a 100% raise (which is exactly what Kurt is widely believed to have received at Penske)? Gosh… I remember when it was all about the writing! What happened to the good old days?

Roush is obviously at the top of the game right now, but there’s got to be a reason why Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, and Joey Logano have all recently either considered moving or have actually moved from Roush Racing. Maybe souvenir sales were a factor, but I can guarantee you that it was only one of many factors.

I truly beleive that those in the media criticizing Busch and McMurray haven’t taken the time to truly ask themselves what they’d have done in the same situation.
HUDSON HORNET
08/19/2005 10:52 PM
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kd67to2 asked a good question Jeff. Would YOU, Jeff Meyer the writer, turn down a 100% increase in pay?
Somehow I think you would. Am I wrong?
Holly aka ab8
08/20/2005 03:29 PM
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Prolific read, Jeff!
Jeff M
08/21/2005 10:52 PM
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Well folks, it’s now been a few days since I wrote the above article. In an interview with Rusty Wallace I saw this weekend, Rusty said that one of the reasons Kurt wants to make the switch is to INCREASE HIS POPULARITY. How anyone could think that it is about better equipment is beyond me. Penske is no slouch, I’m not saying that, but time will tell. I still say it is a bad move on Kurts part, but hey, its his choice. Sure he may be getting twice the money, but I think he is going down a step in equipment.
McMurray on the other hand is making a switch to better money AND equipment! Jamie wants a better chance to win, and Roush can give him that by far over Ganassi.
As for MY pay…..well Hudson Hornet, I am afraid you are wrong AND right! I WOULD accept a 100% raise for writing! Remember, 100% of NOTHING is still NOTHING!!!!!!!

 

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