NASCAR News Today: Thoughts on Michael McDowell leaving Front Row for Spire, the end of NASCAR RaceHub & lots of Australian motorsport links with the sport lately

by Sports Benches

It’s been a huge week of NASCAR news and its silly season rumour mill so far where one driver will be jumping ship to another team going into next year while a major shake up amongst the media landscape is changing regarding its weekly magazine show and the Australian NASCAR connection extends even further where we could see another Supercars driver having a crack next month & one of the renowned TCR Australia manufacturers might be joining the sport in the next few years.

A huge hole to fill at Front Row Motorsports going into next year

Michael McDowell has been outstanding in the No.34 Ford at Front Row Motorsports over the last seven years, having turned from Top 20-25 into a occasional front row to Top 10-15 challenger that saw him win two races including two Playoffs opportunities off the back from the breakthrough 2021 Daytona 500 as well as the 2023 Indianapolis Grand Prix (road course).

Yes, all great things has to come to an end when he will leave FRM at the end of this season but he will be off to Spire Motorsports though to replace former FRM alumni Zane Smith in the No.71 Chevy from 2025 as this is a team who is also looking to improve their on-track presence with plenty of ambition by turning themselves into a Top-10 outfit.

I’m sure he still has a few more years left to offer going into the 40s by fulfilling their wish with the hope of more good Top 10-15 finishes and race wins before Michael calls a day. Who will replace him? It remains to be seen with Stewart-Haas still on the lookout to sell their two charters and then possibly merging with FRM to make up four Ford cars, so Ryan Preece could be staying after all rather than being given the flick this time in McDowell’s spot for the 34. I don’t know if some of the current sponsors will be joining ship with McDowell but I guess they are tied up with the team as sure Spire has their own $$$ to support three Cup cars & Preece would be the perfect replacement who has a great racing pedigree from the ground up. Yes, he might not be doing things too good when SHR is currently struggling but again he can get things done in a good race car.

FOX Sports ending NASCAR RaceHub next month once their first-half season coverage wraps up

It looks like there won’t be a dedicated daily NASCAR TV show for race fans to tune in on weeknights now ahead of the next TV rights deal next year that incorporates a greater focus on streaming as FOX Sports has today announced that they will be finishing up NASCAR RaceHub on Monday, June 11 after 15 years on the air. It first started back in 2009 when Speed Channel was around with Adam Alexander and Krista Voda.

Over the years, Alexander remained as the original co-host all along while several others have came in and go when Voda moved on after a few years & Speed became FS1 – such as the late Steve Byrnes (who sadly passed away in late 2014) & Danielle Trotta (2013-2016) along with Shannon Spake & Kaitlyn Vincie in recent years. It was also a show that welcomed regular guests both past and present including breaking news announcements, interviews, analysis and many more that included the weekly radioactive segment from each race of the season via the in-car radio by several teams.

Gotta say 6pm won’t the be the same for race fans when there’s no reliable source that is related to NASCAR to tune in on weeknights. But again, there will be several networks airing NASCAR over the next couple of years and with FOX only airing the first-half Cup races and still the entire Truck Series season, they don’t have any other choice but to shut it down when there’s or other streaming-only NASCAR related shows and even podcasts to tune in online going forward at any time rather than being required to tune in at a certain time or else having to set it up on their DVRs to watch it later.

It doesn’t say whether or not if NASCAR RaceDay will be following RaceHub out the door but I guess it will be at the end of the NASCAR season in November with a brand new pre-show incorporating the network’s race day coverage from 2025. It seems that FOX NASCAR’s days has reached its tipping point, who may be able to celebrate its 30th anniversary come 2031 , but then after that, The CW or CBS in partnership with Amazon or TNT Sports will be looking to take their place for the first half season including the Truck Series package when the next round of TV rights come into market from 2032 & beyond.

A bit of Supercars/SpeedSeries NASCAR links popping up lately

And lastly but not least, here’s some bit of Supercars and SpeedSeries links with NASCAR that you need to know over the last week:

  • 1. Current Supercars drivers’ leader at Red Bull Team Australia and inaugural 2019 TCR Australia champion Will Brown is set to earn his opportunity in NASCAR where he will be driving the partial No.33 Chevy Camaro ZL1 race car for Richard Childress Racing at Sonoma Raceway also early next month.
  • 2. We could see Hyundai and even Honda joining NASCAR later this decade around 2026 or 2027 if the sport can add the hybrid element having seen the sport race with Toyota, Ford and Chevy over the last 11 years after Dodge left despite ending the 2012 season with Brad Keselowski as the champion for Team Penske at the time with no other team left to take their place.

It’s been a while since Brodie Kostecki, who had long-term ambitions to race NASCAR, fell out with Erebus Motorsport over the off-season that saw him sit out the first 1-2 races before he was able to race with them again as several sponsors walked out the door including Boost Mobile. It’s a shame that he won’t be back racing NASCARs any time soon at least in the short term. But that doesn’t mean another Supercars-NASCAR link isn’t all over other than Shane Van Gisbergen racing in the Xfinity Series full-time for Kaulig Racing when the Peter Adderton effect via his MobileX backing with RCR still remains strong by asking his Triple 8 replacement & former Erebus driver Will Brown to take his place at Sonoma, which is really good news.

There’s still a long way to go for Brown if he wants to hold on both his Supercars championship hopes and the potential to win the Bathurst 1000 later this year but if he wishes to race in NASCAR full-time at some point, I’m sure he will be given the right steps like SVG in order to become the next Supercars convert to thrive in the US for the right organization. I hope Brodie can get things back on track but let’s hope this off-season saga won’t hold back his NASCAR ambitions too much.

While we saw a number of Supercars drivers plying their trade in the US initially on a part-time basis including Cam Waters lately at Truck Series level for ThorSport Racing, here’s another SpeedSeries related link that could see one of the major players end up in NASCAR in the years to come if the sport is able to roll out the hybrid element to its race cars. Enter Hyundai into the fold who has a great history of motorsport over the last few years such as the World Rally Championship as well as touring cars that extends to SpeedSeries here via TCR Australia. Now the negotiations haven’t even started yet but Ed Laukes is saying this who used to be a senior executive for Toyota in North America & is a consultant for Joe Gibbs Racing.

I can imagine though with Hyundai’s modern approach to their motorsports program, they could really be a success in NASCAR by having a Sonata sedan onboard in Cup and Xfinity level while they can use the Santa Cruz pick up truck in the Truck Series if they like. Usually a team with manufacturer backing requires 3-4 cars but Trackhouse, Spire or Stewart-Haas potentially partnering up with Front Row would be the perfect landing spots should Hyundai’s desire to join the sport is serious. It’s still early days as we still have three makes currently on track (Toyota, Ford and Chevy) but the manufacturer talk isn’t going away anytime soon with the hope of a fourth one or even a fifth coming in to turn left sooner rather than later.

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