Wimmer Wants Another Chance
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Scott Wimmer slowly nods along in agreement as it is suggested to him that he must be flattered that his phone rings when big-time race team owners need help launching the careers of people who have more sex appeal than driving chops, or more raw talent than experience.
But then, Wimmer slowly shakes his head no. What he would prefer to be doing, he says, is relaunching his own NASCAR career – one which looked pretty dang bright eight years ago.
Wimmer was in the garages at Kansas Speedway last week as he was saying all that. He was wearing a polo shirt, jeans and baseball cap. A radio headset was wrapped around his neck.
He was there to set up the ARCA Series car of teen-ager Ty Dillon and then to help out the grandson of Richard Childress in any other way he could.
Taking three laps to set the car up, Wimmer posted the fourth-fastest time in the 20-driver open test. Dillon took over and finished seventh fastest.
Not bad, but not close to being satisfying.
Not for a guy who appeared to have a huge future in NASCAR until a DWI incident in 2004 cost him more than just a fine, his drivers license and court costs.
Wimmer, who finished third in the Nationwide Series standings two years before, had a full-time Cup ride at the time, driving for the respected team of Bill and Gail Davis. He would continue on with Davis in 2005 but in 2006, was cut loose and has not had a full time ride in NASCAR.
He has had some good cars put under him – notably by Childress for 23 races in 2007 and 23 in ’08 – and some good finishes.
In fact, in 2007, he teamed with Jeff Burton to give Childress the owners championship in
But last year, he was cut by Childress and took a job for owner Curtis Key and second tier Key Motorsports.
This year, Wimmer is serving as hired gun.
And in one case – that of Danica Patrick’s entry into the sport of stock car racing – as savior.
Patrick forayed into the Nationwide series in February with a heavily hyped part time gig with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports Nationwide team.
But when the IndyCar driver/pitch woman struggled as driver of the No. 7 car in the first three races of the season – struggled so much that the team’s owner-points qualifying exemption was put in jeopardy (Patrick finished 35th, 34th and 35th) – Wimmer got a call.
“A lot of people in the garages know I don’t tear up equipment,” Wimmer said. “Thankfully.”
Wimmer came in and finished 10th and seventh the next two races and the team’s owner-points position jumped from 35th to 22nd and has been secure since.
He got a thank you but little more: Since that seventh-place finish at Nashville, the Earnhardt team has elected to put a string of young drivers into the seat when Patrick could not make races.
Wimmer has driven three races for the team owned by Mike Curb since then. He has two top 12 finishes and an average finish of 13th. His average finish on the year is ninth.
So, think he can still drive? Wimmer knows he can still drive. And he wants a chance – a legitimate chance – to prove it.
“My deal is getting into competitive cars,” he said. “That’s important to me. I have led laps in every race I’ve been in this year. I’m not looking for a start-and-park.”
With the season almost over, that is not likely for this year. With NASCAR and its teams in the kind of financial shape they are in, it may not be likely again in Wimmer’s time.
“It’s tough out there. I don’t know if it’s going to get better,” he said. “And it’s hard to swallow. I almost won a Nationwide championship. I’ve won in Nationwide. I can win in Cup. And I’m sitting on the sidelines.”
Wimmer’s sideline has been State Park Raceway, a short track he and his father, Ron, own near his native Wausau, Wis.
He said he doesn’t watch much racing on television any more. But he does hope team owners are watching him.
And, getting ready to call him with another offer and another chance.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgNo Comment