One story lost in the shadow of Speedweeks in Daytona was the absence of Carter Simo Racing’s No. 08 car. Much of the team’s equipment was put up for auction Tuesday; however, a source tells Frontstretch the operation still plans to field a car in 2010, with a limited schedule of races TBD. CSR may also try and field a car for the Talladega ARCA race in April; until then, most of the team’s employees have been temporarily released and are working for other teams in the sport.
In mid-2009, team owner John Carter bought the assets of beleaguered owner/driver Jeremy Mayfield, using the newly purchased equipment and Toyotas to field entries in five races with two-time champion driver Terry Labonte. Equipment issues kept the team from cracking the top 30 in those races. Road-course ringer Boris Said also wielded No. 08 Fords last year at both road-course races, scoring the team’s season-best finish of 24th at Infineon. Later on that season, Said and longtime partner Mark Simo split, creating the newly-named Carter Simo racing with Labonte behind the wheel.
On Tuesday, CSR only placed the equipment purchased from Mayfield on the block, including five Toyotas, a race hauler and other pit equipment and tools. However, the source says that the team still owns three old Yates chassis and an old Ganassi piece (all of which they converted to Dodges last year) in the shop, with plans on returning to the track midseason pending sponsorship. The move is similar to what happened with Carter Simo last year, in which they took a four-month break between Daytona and Infineon while preparing to race at specific tracks. CSR, which still splits its time between its shops in Charlotte and in Toccoa, Ga., just has to modify the top of the noses on their cars before returning to the track, due to a minor, lightly-discussed rules change before the season.
As for CSR’s 2009 drivers and whether they will return to the team, Said currently is driving the No. 26 for Bill Jenkins’s Latitude 43 Motorsports, and is working on a long-term deal that should remove him as an option. Labonte is also out of the running; he and former owner Bill Stavola formed Stavola Labonte Racing in 2009, but are currently sidelined due to a lack of sponsorship. According to sources, Labonte was offered but initially turned down a return to the No. 08.
A John Carter-owned car did participate in the ARCA race at Daytona on February 6th. Former CSR driver James Hylton borrowed a car from Carter, then leased it to driver Jill George for the race. But George infamously crashed the No. 48 roof-first into the wall just 25 laps into the 80-lap Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, finishing 31st in the 43-car field.