|Tommy Baldwin speaks out.|
Yesterday, team owner Tommy Baldwin, Jr., finally fired back.
Baldwin, who was forced to Start And Park frequently in his early days as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner, responded angrily to recent comments by Smith that teams like his have no business in the sport and should be legislated out of the game by NASCAR.
“Obviously, Bruton has got enough money that if he wanted to be part of the solution, he’d help figure out how,” said Baldwin in a Monday teleconference with the sport’s media. “Hendrick, Childress (and) Roush all started very small, just like TBR. If NASCAR didn’t give me the ability to start this process slowly and build, we wouldn’t be in the position where we are today.
“"He's kind of like one of those mad politicians who gets pieces of paper handed to him before he speaks,'' said Baldwin of Smith. "He has no idea what he's talking about. Those are things he probably shouldn’t be worried about.”
He also criticized Smith’s refusal to suggest solutions to the Start And Park phenomenon, saying the track owner insists on pocketing proceeds from track sponsorships, rather than working with teams to help spread the wealth.
“He can do a better job,” said Baldwin. “We’ve tried to get the sponsors at his tracks involved in some package deals, but (the tracks) don’t want anything to do with it. They’re too greedy.”
|SMI's Bruton Smith|
In apparent response to complaints from Smith and Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, NASCAR announced this week that it will “re-allocate” purse and prize money from the final five finishing positions toward the front of the pack this season, dropping the payout for positions 39-43 by approximately $4,000 per position. NASCAR president Mike Helton confirmed the move during an Autoweek magazine media panel discussion earlier today, saying, "We moved prize money higher in the purse, so if someone's intent is solely to run a lap or two and park, the revenue stream shrinks.”
Helton called Start And Park "irritating,'' but said he supports new teams’ efforts to succeed in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Spokespersons for the sanctioning body stressed that overall, purses will increase in 2013. Earlier, NASCAR announced plans to trim starting fields in the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 43 cars to 40.
Interestingly, Baldwin had no complaint with NASCAR’s plan to pay less money to backmarkers this season.
"NASCAR is taking the right steps,'' he said. "They did a really good job. They talked to us about the situation, what their plan was and why they're doing it. At the end of the day, it makes sense what they're doing.''
After once fielding a single car in only a limited schedule of events, Baldwin confirmed plans to run two full-time Chevy SS entries this season for drivers Dave Blaney and J.J. Yeley.
“This year is very important for us,” he said. “It’s important that we do well on both the business side and the competition side. We’ll have some strong places and some weak places, but should run consistently in the Top-20 to 25.
“I think we’re ready for the next step,” he promised. “We’re getting everything prepared and going for some new goals with new sponsors.”