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Petree Not A Big Fan Of Starting And Parking

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 8 2010

The No. 92 Nationwide Series car had another very short run over the weekend, this time in Nashville. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Nashville – ESPN commentator Andy Petree thinks its time for NASCAR to take the “start” out of start-and-park racing.

“I hate it and I don’t think it should be permitted,” Petree said in response to a question about the controversial practice prior to last week’s Nationwide Series race in Nashville.

“I guess if it came down to doing it or starving, I’d do it. But otherwise …”

Start-and-park is the practice of entering a car in a race with no intention of actually racing. Once the race starts the driver runs a lap or two, then pulls off the track and goes to the garage. The team picks up last-place money, and that can amount to a considerable sum over the course of a season.

Team owners who resort to start-and-park tactics say they don’t do it by choice but out of necessity. They are under-financed and claim that they are simply doing what’s necessary to survive and meet a payroll while hoping for better times ahead.

Petree, who several yeas ago was forced to sell his own race team when he lost his sponsor, doesn’t buy it.

“I could still be racing and making money if I wanted to do it that way,” he said. “But it’s not for me.”

NASCAR starts 43 cars in its Cup and Nationwide series, and Petree favors shortening the fields if necessary to eliminate start-and-park entries.

“You could take the money those teams are getting and put it into the purse for the teams that

Andy Petree, former crew chief and current race analyst for ESPN. (Photo courtesy of ESPN)

are really racing,” he said.

“I guess I shouldn’t judge them too harshly because they’re doing what they think they have to do,” he added, “but all I can tell you is that I wouldn’t do myself.”

Last week’s visit to Nashville brought back some fond memories for Petree, whose biggest moment as a team owner was a 2001 victory at Talladega with Nashville driver Bobby Hamilton behind the wheel.

“That was the highlight for me as an owner and I imagine for Bobby as a driver,” Petree said. “It was a huge race and what made the win so great was that we didn’t luck into it – the race went green all the way and we flat out-ran ‘em all.

“After it was over, after we’d done all the media interviews and stuff, Bobby and his wife and me and my wife went back down on the track and sat down on the finish line and just let it all sink in. What a great day that was.”

Those good times didn’t last. Petree encountered sponsorship problems and was forced to sell his team and Hamilton – after building a championship truck team – lost a battle with cancer.

“We went through some frustrating times those last couple of years, struggling to hang on, and I was relieved to get out,” said Petree who prior to becoming a team owner was an acclaimed crew chief for Harry Gant and Dale Earnhardt.

“Losing my sponsor was the last straw. When I went to the mailbox one day to get my check and it wasn’t there, that made my decision easy.

“Today I look back and remember all the good times I had in this sport over the years. I try not to dwell on the bad ones.”

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 8 2010
8 Comments

8 Comments »

  • Todd Crane says:

    ooops “Start”

  • Todd Crane says:

    Come on Andy…There have been Star and parkers since NA$CAR began, only in the good old days for the reason out of the race, the NA$CAR box score just said “quit”.

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    I am biased, but I believe there is a world of difference between what Parsons does and what Joe Nemechek and Tommy Baldwin do. Based on how he operated in N-wide in 2009 and what he’s done in Cup this year, it appears clear to me that Parsons is fielding cars with no intent to compete at all, and ends up knocking out cars that do want to compete. Nemechek and Baldwin on the other hand appear to want to compete when they can afford to do so and S&P so they can afford to actually race down the road.

    As much as I get irritated by S&P’ers like Parsons, I believe the only change NASCAR should make is to revise how the race purse is divided so that it is more profitable to race and much less profitable to quit after a hand-full of laps – such as paying all the cars in the race a certain amount for each lap run.

    • goat says:

      Exactly right. I think NASCAR should pro-rate the payouts per lap, maybe just if you run less than 70% of the laps. The start-and-parking not only detracts from the credibility of the sport…it also sidelines teams that show up to race but are out-qualified by teams that only spend their resources on qualifying.

  • SRQ Mike says:

    The farce that MWR, Phil Parsons, and Randy Humphrey are running gives NASCAR an even worse name. This is pure sleaze. There is no good arguement for running the 91, 92, 55, 66 cars — NONE. NASCAR is losing credibility — fast. These clowns just don’t understand that they are losing core fans — fast.

    Cup should run no more than 40 cars, NW-36. The trucks are a total laugher — 10-15 reasonably competitive vehicles. I rather watch the sportsmen and street stocks at the local track.

  • Big Mike says:

    I don’t understand Andy Petree. He put down Scott Riggs last year on Nascar Now after Scott left Tommy Balwin Racing because he refused to be a start and park driver. Tommy had called Scott in at Richmond after 85 laps and claimed to Nascar that the #36 car had brake issue. Scott stood his ground,kept his integrity as a driver, and left TBR the week after.

    Now Andy is claiming he wouldn’t be a start and park team. I think he owe’s Scott an apology.

  • Chris says:

    I have been a huge fan and follower of Bobby Labonte for the past 12 years. I would have to say that from a fans perspective starting and parking is a major disappointment. I know that its not the fault of a driver that this has to happen, but it actually hurts to see it happen to people who just aren’t with a finacially sound organization. Tickets are not cheap, figure in travel expenses to and from to a racing venue, food, drink. Your excited and pumped up to see your favorite driver race, only to find out that on lap 40 they parked because they couldn’t afford to continue. Not only does that hurt the fan base of the teams, and drivers affected, but also Nascar. I believe that the race at Pocono was the 2nd time this year for TRG Motorsports. And probably not the last. How can you expect to gain sponsorship when you retire from an event with an undamaged and mechanically sound car. That sounds like tossing in the towell to me. I will not buy another ticket because of this very reason. If it “simply doesn’t make sense to run a race without sponsership funding” then don’t enter the event. By doing this they could keep the money in the pockets of those fans who only support their favorite drivers. And stop giving people false hopes, that maybe this weekend they will run past lap 40.

  • Dale Elmore says:

    When Petri was racing there were less than 6 Winston Cup guys invading the Busch,(Nationwide), series. Now there are up to 20 top level teams envading the lower series.
    One way to give the series regular an incentive to race, is change the purce structure. If a Sprint Cup guy races in a lower series his winnings are reduced 50% from the posted purce. This money is then redistbursed to the regular teams. This is easy to do, with a simple porgram, on the computer.
    The regulars get a bit more money and the Sprint Cup guys get their sponsors the TV time.
    Dale