(WOMR file photo)
Harry Scott Jr. didn’t look at Phoenix Racing and see an underfunded NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program with fewer than two dozen employees. Not al all, he saw potential, and with an infusion of sponsorship, perhaps a lot more than that.
The co-owner of Turner Scott Motorsports has become a NASCAR team owner in his own right with the purchase of Phoenix Racing from James Finch, who founded the organization in 1989. The completed sale was announced Wednesday, and Phoenix will put Turner Scott Nationwide Series mainstay Justin Allgaier in the #51 car for three of the season’s final 10 races, beginning at Chicagoland Speedway in two weeks.
The sale included the team’s shop in Spartanburg, S.C., and all its assets. Scott plans to keep the organization’s core intact, with Nick Harrison remaining as crew chief on the #51 car, and Finch filling the role of “chairman emeritus.” Phoenix will also maintain its ties with Hendrick Motorsports, from which it obtains engines, as does Turner Scott.
“Anybody’s goal in racing, or most people’s goal, is to get to the Sprint Cup Series,” Scott said. “And this particular opportunity is unique in that it’s a single-car team that has good infrastructure that has a great relationship Hendrick. I already had the relationship with Hendrick through my involvement with Turner Scott Motorsports, so it was easier for me to become the buyer of the team as opposed to somebody who didn’t have that. So it kind of gave me a leg up.”
Allgaier, currently fifth in NASCAR Nationwide Series standings, will also drive the #51 at Charlotte and Talladega. Scott said he has a driver in mind for the other seven races remaining in the 2013, adding the team would make another announcement on that front in the coming weeks. Phoenix Racing will remain a single entity and not be merged with Turner Scott, which Scott owns along with Steve Turner, and fields cars on three other NASCAR circuits.“There are no plans for that to change,” Scott said. “Steve had an opportunity to participate in the Phoenix deal, and he declined because of all his other business obligations. But by the same token, when I came into Turner Motorsports, he had already paid his dues and gotten it to that point. If he were to come to me if we were to be successful and he decided he wanted to be a part of it one day, I’d definitely welcome that. But at this point, there is absolutely no plan for that. They’ll be two separate organizations.”
“There are no plans for that to change,” Scott said. “Steve had an opportunity to participate in the Phoenix deal, and he declined because of all his other business obligations. But by the same token, when I came into Turner Motorsports, he had already paid his dues and gotten it to that point. If he were to come to me if we were to be successful and he decided he wanted to be a part of it one day, I’d definitely welcome that. But at this point, there is absolutely no plan for that. They’ll be two separate organizations.”
Scott believes all that’s keeping the #51 car from being more consistently competitive is sponsorship, Nevertheless, Scott says the team now has enough to finish out the 2013 season, as well as some already in place for the next two years.
“In my opinion, they’ve been on the cusp. They’ve been competitive at times, so they’ve shown the ability to be competitive. Really what they’ve lacked is sponsorship, and we’ve got some. We’ve been fortunate to team up with some good partners, and that, I think, is going to give us what those guys have needed as far as a little more resources to kind of get them over the hump, to kind of take them to the next level,” Scott said.
“That gives us the ability to plan and invest and know that we’ve got these two years to kind of prove ourselves and attract even more sponsorship. And potentially in ’16, maybe we’ll have two cars. It’s going to give us what we need in order to succeed, in order to be confident you’re making a good investment. We will have time to pay our dues.”
The only sponsor announced thus far for the #51 car is Brandt, the agricultural products company that backs Allgaier’s Nationwide car, which will appear on the vehicle for the three Sprint Cup events for which he’s behind the wheel. Scott said the rest would be filled out by a variety of backers, although one company will serve as the team’s primary sponsorship source, and there is inventory remaining on the vehicle going forward.
So we say so long to a fiercely independent NASCAR race team owner, James Finch, and hello to Harry Scott, Jr.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!