Top 3 NASCAR news this week: Two Supercars drivers now confirmed for Sonoma next month, more merger teams talk & next year’s Coca Cola 600 event will no longer be on FOX

by Sports Benches

There’s a whole lot of NASCAR news you need to know including us Australian fans here including regular Supercars followers that is going to be huge over the next coming weeks and months to come. From Shane Van Gisbergen to Brodie Kostecki, two more Supercars drivers are now onboard on what is going to be their first real crack in NASCAR’s premier class next month on a road course at Sonoma Raceway. Then more silly season talk where 1-2 teams are in talks of selling off their charters in midst of a new long-term charter agreement & then if successful, they could still be involved in the sport with another team somewhere else. And one of the sport’s crown jewel races at the end of May during the big day of Motorsport alongside the Monaco Grand Prix & Indianapolis 500 will no longer be on free-to-air TV with a change of broadcasting hands and also a change of broadcasting view too where neither will be available on both TV & cable but only on streaming with a subscription.

Two Supercars racers are now off to Sonoma Raceway in California next month for their first tastes of NASCAR Cup Series Racing

So there we have it with not one but two Supercars racers from down under going Cup racing as Triple 8’s Will Brown and Tickford Racing’s Cam Waters will be racing at Sonoma Raceway in California early next month for the Toyota/Save Smart 350 event. What’s even better about it is that we have the Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday on that day during a Monday morning for most states, which is good news for those who regularly follow NASCAR here looking to take a rare day off & watch the full race with Brown & Waters in it when most of us need to work to support ourselves every day which is certainly impossible.

As per current Supercars affiliations, Brown who is currently racing Chevy for Triple Eight will pilot the No.33 Chevy Camaro for Richard Childress Racing in place of former Erebus team-mate Brodie Kostecki with sponsorship coming from Peter Adderton’s MobileX; Waters on the other hand via Tickford Racing’s strong ties with Ford will drive the No.60 Ford Mustang for RFK Racing alongside BlueForge Alliance backing with the AUKUS connections on it. Yes, Shane Van Gisbergen will also be there during the Sonoma weekend alongside his partner Jessica Dane – who still holds some shares in her family’s Triple Eight business despite moving to the US recently – but he will just be racing Xfinitys as usual in the No. 97 Chevy Camaro for Kaulig Racing. So not required by Kaulig or even Trackhouse to have SVG onboard unfortunately for this one alongside but we can all dream of seeing three Australian-NZ racers in NASCAR even if they’re all full-time together at some point in the near future.

It will be Brown’s NASCAR debut there after he earned great success on home soil such as his 2019 TCR Australia championship season with plenty of wins here and there at Supercars level. For Waters, he can also win Supercars races too many times before even though this year wasn’t the best so far here. However, he already made his first steps in NASCAR at Trucks level recently rather than take the risk & start at the top level with Kostecki and SVG where he made an underwhelming debut at Martinsville (same track he visited last year) last month before he finished 19th a few weeks later at Kansas despite some late drama with Layne Riggs, son of Scott Riggs, who was driving the No.38 Ford F-150 for Front Row Motorsports.

Look out for more Supercars drivers coming to the US soon where we all know Waters and even Brown would want to be at their best every week at Cup someday that would mean more NASCAR connections beyond drivers in Australia & in turn we could see a official NASCAR race here too but that idea is going to be a long, long time away unlike Mexico and Canada. For now, we wish them all the best next month as Brown and Waters will be resuming to their normal duties after this to achieve something that is unfinished business in Supercars later this year before we will find where they will go to next in the long run.

More silly season stuff on mergers with Front Row-Stewart Haas Racing & now Trackhouse looking to take over Kaulig Racing where both would then become four-car teams

Last week, we heard about Kaulig Racing wanting to sell a charter while Stewart-Haas is still looking to sell two charters at the same time but then merge with Front Row Motorsports to create a new four-car team. Now we are beginning to see some legs as Kaulig will merge with Trackhouse so Trackhouse can expand to four cars without having to buy a charter that will cost them $50 million & should the Front Row-Stewart Haas merger be true, Cole Custer would replace the Spire-bound Michael McDowell in the 34 and Chase Briscoe to replace the underperforming Harrison Burton at Wood Brothers Racing in the No.21.

So that means Josh Berry, Noah Gragson and even the No.38’s Todd Gilliland is staying with Ryan Preece being the odd man out whose performances is inconsistent for the most part unfortunately after being given another chance to prove himself in the current No.41 Ford for Stewart-Haas & he didn’t make much of a difference from here. Preece will be good at Xfinity level again with a good organisation or even accept another Cup lifeline at Rick Ware Racing which is going to be highly unlikely since he has no sponsorship. If SHR was to sell these two charters, one will go to Richard Childress Racing in order to go three full-time Cup cars and another would either be a satellite Toyota team in either 23XI Racing or Legacy Motor Club or even RFK Racing if they feel ready to go three cars and hire Riley Herbst who has his own family sponsorship $$$ to make this happen.

Regarding Trackhouse, bravo to Justin Marks on working around the tough charter climate by looking to take over another team in Kaulig Racing in order to expand his empire that would hopefully go even better on-track with a championship on his hands someday like he did to Chip Ganassi Racing three years ago. With four cars potentially coming into play, the No.1 will always be Ross Chastain while the No.99 will still be Daniel Suarez as long as the contract extension talks go well with SVG and Zane Smith coming in to complete the team’s expansion into Kaulig. We could also see Trackhouse enter Xfinity too where the pathway to the top level could be a lot clearer now for youngsters like 17-year-old Connor Zilisch coming in a few years time.

Image Reference: TaurusEmerald via Wikipedia, CC BY 4.0 International

What does it mean for Kaulig should they leave Cup racing? We all know they earned their way from the ground up at Xfinity Series level for many years with Blake Koch at the start before they made the step up over time including their first steps at the top level over the last 2-3 years when the sport introduced a brand new chassis which was the Gen7 model or the Next Gen Car. Yes, they had some moments along the way but now Kaulig is beginning to fade when AJ Allmendinger didn’t want to race on Sundays anymore by going back to Xfinity and suddenly they had to go back to the rotation driver line-up for the No.16 Chevy Camaro this season with no decent replacement drivers being lined up (SVG doesn’t count even though he’s tied under Trackhouse and won’t be dismissed that easily). Well, there is nothing they can do but to quit and give Trackhouse the greater control they need going into next year as this is right for them. Kaulig could still race Xfinity if they like on it own as long as they got a good driver pathway affiliation with Richard Childress Racing but then not so much at the end of the day & maybe see Matt Kaulig getting a board/executive role within Trackhouse. It’s gonna be hard to see them go when the team’s ambitions began to fade despite some good Top 15 results including some towards the front but sometimes you need to either be so serious at Cup level & be in to win with the right drivers & investment or else step aside if they cannot do it.

No more Coca Cola 600 on free-to-air TV next year with steaming-only giant Amazon Prime taking over from FOX

For the last several decades the Coca Cola 600 or the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway has been on free-to-air TV including FOX throughout the 2000s, 2010s and the early 2020s. Although FOX will continue airing the first-half Cup races under the new seven-year contract from next year alongside another full season of Trucks but the Coca Cola 600 race is no longer on the list whose season will end at the non-points All-Star race in North Wilkesboro Speedway instead. Next year’s running from here will be a new era where Amazon Prime will begin its five-race season at one of NASCAR crown jewel races with a completely new commentary team including new signing Dale Earnhardt Jr. & a completely different broadcast view where race fans would need to pay in order to watch the races from their phones/laptops/computers/tablets or via smart TV.

It won’t be the same when the FOX NASCAR crew will no longer be covering Cup racing there at all other than the Truck Series races having always been ever present since 2001. Off the back of their recent decision to shut down their daily RaceHub show, there’s not much they can do other than simply turning up on race days during the early months of the year that still includes the Daytona 500. Looks like they want to go for one last ride whose next contract expires in 2031 at the same time of the network’s expected 30th year anniversary association with NASCAR and then part ways after that from 2032.

As for Amazon Prime, good for them where they will get the chance to air the 600 race going forward that could lift the sport’s broadcast onto a whole new level that isn’t on free-to-air TV and cable whereas the big day of Motorsport on TV from next year would only be the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. Although we could see FOX stay on a bit longer if they can get the IndyCar rights off NBC at the end of the season and they can continue airing one of the big day of racing with the Indy 500 rather than the Charlotte 600. I guess it’s early days though when the sport isn’t leaving cable just yet for another while likewise with the other major sporting leagues who also shares a strong emphasis on the streaming world too but wishing Amazon Prime all the best with their new broadcast team and a brand new announcer in place soon enough.

You may also like

Leave a Comment