In a week where we should be showing “thanks” Wednesday was just the opposite in the NASCAR world. See, while StarCom Racing and Quin Houff may think otherwise, the announcement that Houff will drive the No. 00 Chevrolet full time for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season is a further example on everything that is wrong with racing these days.
See, Landon Cassill, remember him? Well, Cassill drove that same car for StarCom in 2019. He currently has a contract, not HAD, HAS, a contract with the same organization to drive that same car for 2020.
While StarCom acknowledged Cassill is still under contract with them and working on putting him in to work in some capacity in 2020, reality is, he is being ousted from a full time seat that he has a contract for to make room for Houff.
For reference, here are Houff’s NASCAR stats –
1 K&N start – 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10’s, 0 laps led (best finish 21st)
5 ARCA starts – 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10’s, 23 laps led (best finish 6th)
0 Truck starts
10 NXS starts – 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10’s, 0 laps led (best finish 12th)
17 Cup starts – 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10’s, 0 laps led (best finish 28th)
For those keeping track, that’s 33 career NASCAR starts with two top 10’s and 23 laps led. Out of those 31 races, he’s finished 20th or worse in 28 of them.
By comparison, Landon Cassill has made 480 NASCAR starts and has shown that if given proper equipment, he can hang with the best of them. He was rushed through the Hendrick development program too quickly but has since taken underfunded teams to good finishes for them. He’s a perfect driver for StarCom to have at their disposal.
A driver with 28 finishes of 20th or worse in 31 career tries has a ride over a driver with a contract that’s made 480 starts. How?
That how answer is simple — money.
Houff, brings money, more so than Cassill. In turn, despite Cassill having a contract to race for that team, they chose to put the guy bringing money in his seat instead. Not only that, Houff was awarded a two-year contract for himself.
I assume most of you reading this have a job or have held a job at some point in your lifetimes. Imagine having a job you actually love and holding a contract in place with your employer for the next year. You’re expecting to show up and do your job and get paid for it and not have to worry right? Well, imagine showing up to work one day and your employer pulling you aside and telling you that even though you have a contract in place, they’re bringing someone new in to take your position and that they not only will take your position the next year, but the following one too. Imagine them telling you the reason that you don’t have a job, is because your replacement is bringing them money to take your job away.
How would you feel?
It has nothing to do with performance, it’s because someone PAID your employer to take your job.
That feels dirty to me. Unfortunately, this is the nature of racing these days. Four drivers, FOUR of them have contracts with racing teams for 2020 and aren’t racing for those said teams anyways.
That’s a P-R-O-B-L-E-M. It’s not like that four drivers are ones like Houff. They’re big named talented drivers.
When do contracts not mean anything in racing? Why are there so many out clauses? Why does bringing money to a team mean more than good finishes? That answer is also simple — money.
That’s a big problem for me and others. Having a seat in racing isn’t about merit or performance anymore. Hell, contracts mean squat. No need for them to be one year or 10 years, it’s a year to year business no matter what. Teams will get out of a contract no matter the duration of them. You could win literally every race on any given season in any series in the world, but if another driver brings more money than you, your seat likely is going to go to the guy bringing the dough.
Not only is this situation going on, later, NASCAR announced that four teams in the Cup Series were heavily penalized for manipulating the finishing order in the season finale at Homestead. All are underfunded teams like StarCom.
Wednesday goes to show you that making it in NASCAR’s premiere series is tough sledding. You have to cheat your way to gain money and even then, you have to take drivers who pay you to race too.
While you don’t want NASCAR, IndyCar, F1 or IMSA being a sport predominately run by just a handful of teams, it’s growing harder and harder for the little guy to hang around with those teams on an annual basis. Just look at the lengths that they have to go to in order to remain in the series. At what point is that enough?
I don’t have the answer for the problem, but what I know is, something has to give. If a driver is contracted for a seat, they should be able to race out their contract. I want to see drivers get rides based on talent, not how fat their bank accounts are. You shouldn’t have to pay your way to get a ride. You also shouldn’t cheat your way to finishes in order to get points in the final standing which equates to money. This was a bad exposed day for NASCAR.