We operate in a sport in which it takes cubic dollars to exist,” said Benton on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway. “We went through the whole season last year with Kenny, and as a team, we’re still behind Kenny 110%, to the point where it makes good business sense. Kenny, my father, (partner) Brack Maggard and myself felt that if we did what we did last year, we’d be building toward something. We made a conscious decision to invest in ourselves (and) with the (sponsorship) partners we had last year, we felt like we could move forward to (become) a fully funded, full-time program this season.
“Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out.”
Benton said he is less interested in identifying the cause of the problem than he is with finding a solution. “You can blame it on whatever you want to blame it on,” he said. “The economy is bad, companies are spending fewer dollars… but we’re faced with the same problem a lot of other teams in NASCAR are faced with. We are a small team, and we look around and see organizations like Roush Fenway Racing – with backing from the Fenway (Sports) Marketing Group – having problems selling guys like Ricky Stenhouse and Trevor Bayne. When we see those guys having to park one of their teams, it’s not an excuse for us. But we’re obviously not the only team faced with hardship.
|Benton "still behind Kenny Wallace."|
“We have to make tough decisions,” he said. “As a team, we have been unsuccessful in securing additional sponsorship for Kenny Wallace. It’s a bad thing, because we have a lot of momentum going and have been able to do well for each other. Kenny has done as much for us as we have done for him, and there is nothing we would like to do more than to be able to continue that. But unfortunately, the (financial) climate we’re faced with negates that.”
Benton said talks with MWR have been ongoing since last season. “We’ve had a lot of interest in our program, and we started talking to the Waltrip group last year about different plans and opportunities that were coming up,” he said. “Those things kind of snowballed into what we announced today.”
Benton confirmed that Pastrana will drive an RAB Racing Toyota in the Nationwide Series’ next event at Richmond International Raceway next week. He said the team has “acquired a few cars” from MWR, and will prepare and field them out of the RAB Racing shops. While the team will change its traditional No. 09 to Pastrana’s No. 99, Benton said “everything else will stay the same. It’s just different decals.
“Quite simply, we’re aligning ourselves with a Sprint Cup organization,” he said. “As a team, we enjoy a tremendous amount of support from Toyota and Toyota Racing Development. That has made all the difference in the world for us and brought us out of the darkness. At the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series level, you need to have an alliance… not only with a manufacturer, but with a Sprint Cup organization. For us to align ourselves with a Sprint Cup organization that is on the (upswing) and putting points on the board is everything for us. They’re going to (provide) a lot of help to our shop crew with technical support and they’re going to be a lot of help to our front office with marketing support.
“The plain and simple truth is that we have been unsuccessful in marketing one of the most popular drivers in the sport. We need help, and… (MWR) has been very successful in selling sponsorships for their teams. We’re going to draw off that now and take advantage of the opportunity."
|RAB has fielded the No. 09 for Wallace|
Benton said the partnership will be beneficial to both sides. “They can draw off the success our Nationwide program has realized, and we can draw off the success their Sprint Cup program is realizing at this time. There are a lot of strengths within the MWR organization. Those strengths will help us as a team and help us grow. Hopefully, we can bring it all together and (make it) a win/win for everyone.”
He stressed that Wallace will continue to drive for the team, in the races he was originally scheduled to run.
“We’re still behind Kenny Wallace,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re going to field an even stronger Camry for him in the races we have sold for him this year. We are standing behind him for all the races he’d like to be a part of our organization.
“It’s a tough deal because there are a lot of mainline, hardcore Kenny Wallace fans out there who don’t understand why we’ve had to do what we’ve had to do,” he said. “We’ve got 30 employees here with families and mortgages and car payments. As much as I’d love to be one of those guys who just won the Mega-Millions lottery and can spend money any way I want to spend it, it’s just not that way.
“I’m sponsor-dependent,” said Benton, “and we have to spend those dollars wisely. Between last year and this year, we’ve covered 11 unsponsored races. I feel like we’ve done everything we’re capable of doing to try and prove that RAB and Kenny Wallace are viable entities, but it just hasn’t worked out for us. So when we had an opportunity to pair up with an organization like MWR and work with drivers like Ryan Truex and Travis Pastrana, why would we not?”