A new leaf has been turned over at Phoenix Racing. With Harry Scott Jr. taking over the ownership duties, the team has new potential. With Scott’s ideas for the team, a more competitive No.51 could be seen on track in the near future. Choosing a driver or drivers will be the first task at hand. The driver pool may not be as big as it was earlier this season though. Sprint Cup Series free agents are scarce and with this team basically reinventing itself, drivers may not take to trusting Phoenix as their best option.
There are a handful of Sprint Cup drivers out there looking for a ride. At the same time, some Nationwide Series drivers may be interested in the team. Phoenix Racing has been known for putting multiple drivers in their car at once. With Chase hopes likely a few years away, should the team continue with a multi-driver lineup? Testing different competitors in their car and figuring out what to improve on could be beneficial for the No.51 car down the road.
Potential driver options for next season could include Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, and even Justin Allgaier. All don’t have set plans for 2014 and an opportunity lies with Phoenix Racing currently.
Mark Martin would enhance this team the moment he walks in the door. His experience is priceless and with a team looking to build up to Chase contending success, Martin may be the guy to help them out. He’s looking for a part-time ride and if Phoenix Racing decides to go down that road with part-timers, he should be the first guy they give a call to.
He has been helping out teams ever since he left the full-time Sprint Cup Series circuit back in 2011. An opportunity to help further develop this growing organization could be a perfect project for Martin to partaken. Kurt Busch said he had a ton of fun in 2012 driving for the team and for Martin to lend his expertise while having a blast could be something worth looking into for the veteran. Could Martin already have plans for next season? It’s possible, but if not, this could be an option.
Bobby Labonte and Jeff Burton could help Phoenix Racing in similar ways as Martin. Their experience would help the team grow and shoot for more success down the road. They know race cars and they know what it takes for them to go fast. With that, they could lend a hand to the No.51 team. Getting to race and be a part of something bigger could provide each racer with something special as they near the conclusion of their careers.
To turn 2014 into a learning and growing season, getting many diverse drivers to climb into the car would only help. They could get the veteran take from either Labonte, Burton, or Martin. Then a fresh rookie’s take from Justin Allgaier, who drives for Scott’s co-owned team in the Nationwide Series.
Allgaier is already slated for three races in the car under Scott’s ownership this season and more next would be beneficial for both team and driver. Phoenix Racing would get Allgaier’s perspective on what they’re doing now and grow from there. Allgaier would get Cup experience which could ultimately benefit him down the road. He probably won’t get the full-time gig, but sharing the car for the season with a few other drivers would be his option. An option that could push him farther down the NASCAR path.
This new beginning for Phoenix Racing has them at a crossroads. One path would make them pick a driver and run as hard as they can with whoever that may be. The other gives them a great chance to grow by bringing a few different drivers in to get their help in pushing the team forward. Whichever path they take will likely determine what this team turns into in the future. A future that could make Harry Scott Jr.’s investment worth it all or worth nothing. This decision is a big one for the team and one that decides what lies ahead for Phoenix Racing.
By Jason Schultz