If there is one factor above all else when it comes to NASCAR betting it is change. And, true to form, there will be plenty of changes heading into the 2012 Sprint Cup season that begins next month with the Daytona 500, especially for Penske Racing.
Todd Gordon of Penske Racing will take over as the crew chief of the number 22 Dodge after a stellar Nationwide series performance in which his car had 6 wins and 6 poles. Roger Penske, perhaps the most revered name in auto racing, likes to develop and promote from within and he believes that Gordon is ready for this next big step, which is the equivalent of being a head football coach in the NFL. Driving the No. 22 will be AJ Allmendinger who is coming off a good season as he finished 15th in the standings.
Penske stayed in the news with the announcement that Kurt Busch will leave the organization after six highly contentious but overall successful years together. Penske said that the decision was mutual and that he was disappointed that Busch would no longer be racing for his organization. Busch won a total of 16 races for Penske. Penske, however, runs a button down and tightly professional organization and the controversial Busch is well known for his mouth, antics, and cowboy driving style which finally became too much both for Penske and his sponsors.
The last straw for Busch and Penske was when Busch made an obscene gesture as he pulled his wrecked car into the garage at the final race of the season at Homestead and was caught in a profanity laced tirade when a reporter wanted an interview. The entire episode ended up on YouTube and brought embarrassment to Penske and concern to sponsors.
Busch was fined $50,000 for the incident by NASCAR and was also known for frequent arguments with crew chief Steve Addington. Beyond that Busch would verbally abuse his pit crew and, worst of all, get into it with the great Penske himself as the two had public disagreements over the past two years that wore down the relationship.
Penske may have waited too long as Busch’s antics ended up making Addington quit in disgust and join up as defending Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart’s crew chief at Stewart-Haas racing.
The addition of Allmendinger in place of Busch for Penske Racing should be a long term positive for the organization as Allmendinger is a class driver and someone the organization can be proud of.