Questions continue to swirl around the #49 BAM Racing team, which has been rumored to be merging with either Petty Enterprises or Bill Davis Racing.
A partnership with Davis would presumably require BAM to convert from Dodge to Toyota, and there are indications that the team may be doing just that. An announcement was made today that the BAM Racing #49 will carry sponsorship from Microsoft’s U.S. Small Business Team in the remaining races this season. The sponsor’s blogsite features an image of a #49 Toyota Camry, with Microsoft signage. BAM’s entry is still listed as a Dodge on this week’s Martinsville roster, but that could be changed anytime before qualifying on Friday.
Interestingly, driver Kenny’s Schrader’s Federated Auto Parts-sponsored NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry for Martinsville is also listed as a Toyota. Schrader has traditionally campaigned a Chevrolet in the past.
Sauter Defends Himself: In the aftermath of Johnny Sauter’s firing by Phoenix Racing last week, team General Manager Marc Reno said Sauter’s removal had been requested by the team’s sponsor; the Miccosukee Indian tribe. Reno said, “It was a sponsor request to take Johnny out of the car. This is the first time that they’ve ever disapproved one of our drivers. That’s why we took Johnny out.”
Sauter, however, says he should not be made a scapegoat for the team’s poor performance.
“I guess the Miccosukees are under the impression that the driver has the power to turn the organization around, and I respect that opinion," he said. "But to be perfectly honest, J.J. Yeley, Mike Wallace and Johnny Benson are all great drivers who struggled in Phoenix Racing equipment and were replaced. How many drivers do you have to fire before you realize that they're not the problem? "
Sterling Marlin replaced Sauter at Nashville Superspeedway last weekend, but is not interested in running the full Nationwide Series schedule. Reno said a search for another driver is under way.
Back To Work: Gene Nead has wasted little time finding a new job. Shortly after being released as crewchief for the #21 Little Debbie Ford by Wood Brothers Racing late last week, Nead is returning to Bill Davis Racing to lead the team’s research and development effort, and also help-out at the track on race weekends. Driver Dave Blaney confirmed Nead’s return during testing yesterday at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC. Nead was with BDR before joining the Wood Brothers during the offseason.