Saturday, July 28, 2007
Sebastien Bourdais to NASCAR?
There are two big trends in NASCAR today; mergermania and bringing in accomplished open wheel racers. Yesterday's announcement of the merger between Robert Yates Racing and Champ Car owner Newman Haas Lanigan Racing addressed both issues. Of course we had the Dale Earnhardt Inc./Ginn Racing merger earlier this week and Roush Racing merging with the Fenway Group (Boston Red Sox) earlier this year. And you can expect Ray Evernham to announce his partnership with Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr. shortly.
Robert Yates Racing has been the subject of merger rumours for a while now. The hottest rumours had them merging with Dale Earnhardt Inc. This new team will be called Yates Newman Haas Lanigan Racing. NHL owns the Champ Car team driven by Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais (pictured). Could he come to NASCAR? Doug Yates & Carl Haas told the Tampa Tribune that Bourdais is interested and it could happen. Bourdais is interested in Formula 1 but it doesn't look like he can catch on with a competitive team there. Tom Jensen of Speed TV reports that RYR driver David Gilliland will return in 2008 but Ricky Rudd may not. He also says that M&M's & Snickers won't return as sponsors but Citi Financial probably will. Snickers will sponsor a different team next year.
It's not surprising that Bourdais is interested in NASCAR. He's done everything to be done in Champ Car and he's still a young guy. He also has to look at Juan Pablo Montoya's success in NASCAR and the possibility of Penske IRL driver Sam Hornish Jr. coming to NASCAR full time next year and figures he would be foolish to not come to NASCAR. Nextel Cup has the best racing and the most money. And he would be coming to an established team and could be competitive immediately. The wild card in this may be Busch Series driver Stephen Leicht as Citi Financial may insist that he drive any car that they sponsor. This could be very interesting.