David Stremme has quit his ride with Latitude 43 Motorsports, alleging that team owner Bill Jenkins has failed to meet his financial obligations and is doing little to help the team improve.
“We’ve been trying to put that program together,” said Stremme. “We always had to do more with less, but in the last month and a half, ownership hasn’t really wanted to make things better. Bill Jenkins has not been willing to make the correct decisions, and it has affected the performance of the team. We’ve barely been making it to track the last few weeks. At Pocono, we didn’t even know if we were going to have tires to race on.
“I went to Bill and said `If things aren’t going to change, I don’t think I want to stay involved.’ We discussed a timeline for him to find another driver and agreed that we would look at things again after Bristol. But he immediately started calling around trying to replace me. He apparently wanted to find someone else right now, and that’s fine. It’s his choice.”
Jenkins admitted his first-year team has struggled to find sponsorship this season, saying, “We are in a funding fight every day, and we haven’t been able to fund the team at the level David expected. We’ve had some good things happen, and some bad things. We had to pull a sponsor off the car two weeks ago (GTW GPS) after a conflict emerged between their products and Sprint. We were counting on them to help get us over the hump, but those are the bumps in the road that you hit.”
Last week, former Latitude 43 Motorsports driver Boris Said revealed that he is unhappy with the way he was treated by Jenkins. “There’s no real polite way to say this, but Bill Jenkins owes me a bunch of money,” he said. Asked if he expects to have any relationship with the team going forward, Said replied, “(Jenkins) hasn’t returned my phone calls, so I guess not. It's a bad deal for me.”
Asked if he is owed money by Latitude 43, Stremme said, “There are obligations to both me and the team that have not been met, and that was a big part of my decision to leave. I don’t want to be involved with something like that. I dealt with (Jenkins) with respect, and was straightforward with him at all times. I didn’t get that in return.”
Jenkins declined to discuss Said and Stremme’s allegations, saying, “I don’t agree with them at all, but I’m not going to pursue that in the press. It’s not the right place. The best thing for me to do at this point is to not preclude David from pursuing any future opportunities. I have all the respect in the world for him. He is a great guy and I wish him all the best.”
“I had a lot of fun working with Frank Stoddard and the guys on that team,” said Stremme. “They’re honest, hard-working guys, and they have accomplishing a lot with nothing. But we missed Indy and Pocono, and it was not getting any better. It got to the point where I wasn’t having fun, so it’s time to do something different.”
Jenkins said Latitude 43 will likely put Patrick Carpentier in the #26 Ford this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, and vowed to run every race for the remainder of the season. “We absolutely will complete for the rest of this year, in every race. We will not start and park. We are here to race.”
Stremme, meanwhile, said he will begin his search “for whatever comes next,” with no apologies for his time with Latitude 43. “I was trying to make the team better,” he said, “but I don’t think the owner is trying. He has two investors he’s brought in, and they’re getting a bad taste of NASCAR because of the way things are being done.”