Sometimes my favorite sport, NASCAR, is brutal. Today was especially harsh!
Fans of David Gilliland have been upset over the Watkins Glen incident where David was given a second car to drive, so that TRGMotorsports could showcase Andy Lally in the #71 car. There was a certain level of fan understanding on this deal, as Lally had a much longer relationship with TRG than David. The execution of owner Kevin Buckler's two car plan was a huge fail! There was only one crew chief, as the person assigned to CC David's car had never had that experience. Crew Chief Slugger Labbe admitted, during a Sirius interview on the Monday following The Glen, that he was supposed to work on both cars, and got stuck on working on Lally's car for the whole practice session. The result was that David's car received little attention, and he went out to qualify in a 'scary loose' car, and barely avoided wrecking on each turn. David went home, and his sponsor was transferred to the car driven by Lally.
David has continue to remain faithful to TRG. A recent online chat with his fans showed David to be very supportive of the efforts of TRG and their driver:
"I think everyone needs to know that everyone at TRG works day and night to be able to race every week. We go to the track with the cars ready to race. Whether we get to or not comes down to if we have the money."
This support is laudable, but appears to be misplaced. An owner is truly allowed to do what he pleases. However, the owner needs to be prepared for the fallout. A press release early on Thursday, September 3rd loudly declares how exciting it is for Team TRG and David to be going to Atlanta, and a few short hours later, the news leaks out that David is out, and Bobby is in. I heard about it as a breaking news item while half awake, listening to it at 745 AM Pacific. Things moved very fast.
Fans of David Gilliland were already feeling burned. Now, they are upset in defense of their driver. First, early this year, they endured the last minute decision at Yates Racing, to replace David with Bobby Labonte. Now, it is happening again. A different owner, but the same drivers.
I understand that money is needed to drive those bright billboards in circles. I understand that Labonte had a long streak of NASCAR starts going, and it would be a shame to break that statistic. I understand that Bobby is a great guy. (I have met him twice, and he is a gentleman!) I understand the nasty necessities of this sport.
But do I have to like it? No, I don't. As a fan, I am taking my prerogative to display my anger towards the team owner, towards the 'new' driver, and towards the sponsor that seems to believe the hype from the owner.
A good guy is getting the shaft. Again.
I only hope that Labonte understands that if he couldn't equal Gilliland's results at Yates, he certainly won't be happy at TRG. Their cars are three generations old. The parts on the 71 have been used all season long, with the stress and wear showing up at the worst times, like Bristol. As bad as Yates looks, it is certainly worse at TRG.
David will take the high road when interviewed this weekend. He IS that kind of person. Fortunately, I don't have to answer to a sponsor.
Therefor, I will be taking a different road.
I was proud to be a part of Gilly's Gang when we presented Kevin Buckler with our hard earned cash to buy a set of tires for one of David's races. I think I want my money back! And judging from the temperment at DavidGilliland.com, I do believe that most of David's fans feel the same way.