Every year, it seems like James Finch, and his Phoenix Racing team, are going to leave NASCAR. It hasn’t happened in 20 years, so why is it going to happen now?
The Phoenix Racing team, located in Sparansburg, SC, is very underfunded. They haven’t had a true sponsor since they had the Miccosukee Resorts and Gaming company as their sponsor for several years. Though for the seven years they sponsored the team (2002-2009), they ran just a part time schedule.
Now, Phoenix Racing is in trouble. For the past few seasons, the team hasn’t had a full-time sponsor and Finch has run the team out of his pocket. It takes millions of dollars to run a competitive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team and Finch has been able to be semi-competitive since he went full-time in 2009. This year, he’s put several drivers behind the wheel including A.J. Allmendinger, Austin Dillon as well as Regan Smith. With this combination, Finch is having his best year as a car owner.
Unfortunately, the success on the track hasn’t landed him a sponsor. He’s been able to put together one race deal with minor sponsors, but that’s on a week-by-week basis. In NASCAR, teams can’t run the whole season with top-notch equipment when they don’t have a sponsor. They can run the whole season, but it’s going to be with old cars and parts that’ll make them race towards the back of the pack. Finch apparently believes that’s what’s going to happen to his team and he wants to prevent it.
According to an interview with The News Herald, Finch will be shutting his doors after the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late July. Whether or not this has any validity to it is still questionable, it does raise the question of what if. If Phoenix Racing leaves NASCAR, that puts Allmendinger out of a job, at least for a few weeks until he can pick up a ride which he probably will do with how he’s been driving this year. It also will hurt Smith who’s been in the car for the majority of the races. He’s trying to show NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams that he’s able to run at a competitive level and losing his ride due to sponsorship definitely won’t help.
Hear it every yr. Never know w/Finch RT @doug_in_la: just read that James Finch is pulling out of racing completely after Indy. U heard?
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 7, 2013
Finch has said in the past that he was going to shut down his race team. He did it last year and it never happened. He only had Hendrickcars.com as a sponsor for a few races and the rest was out of his pocket. This year he’s starting to build a sponsor resume, so why would he shut down his operations?
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.