The password is: turnstile

Posted by Iannucci | 1/22/2008 | 11 comments »
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Ladies and gentlemen, please note that this season the role of Sam Hornish Jr will be played by...Dan Wheldon.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Dan Wheldon might be driving in the Sprint Cup Series this season instead of Dario Franchitti had team owner Chip Ganassi let him.

Wheldon said on Monday he had several conversations with Ganassi about making the jump this year from the IndyCar Series, which he won in 2005, to NASCAR.

"I talked to Chip enough about it to know that for whatever reason he didn't want to let me move from the Indy car,'' Wheldon said on the first day of the 2008 Sprint Cup media tour. "He definitely wants to keep me [in the IndyCar Series]. We'll see.

"I've got some big decisions to make at the end of next season. The main thing is I need to put myself in a strong position so I can make the decision I want to make.

"At this point I'm just going to worry about the Indy cars."

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Don't think too long about those "big decisions", Dan. I mean, I'm sure you miss your buddy Big Jamie Little, but come on! Is this really the way we want to start the season? Really? Do we need to send Danica over to your trailer to straighten you out?

Well, at least we know why Big Chip decided to stash Alex Lloyd.


  1. chrisestrada // January 22, 2008 2:58 PM  

    If you haven't already, you may wanna read Jeff Olson's story on Dan Wheldon in this month's RACER. There's a sidebar that talks about this where Wheldon implies that it's the short season and the lack of off-season testing that's causing open-wheelers to look toward NASCAR. While I don't believe him when he says that money wasn't a reason for Hornish and Dario's departures to stock cars, I think his 'short season/lack of testing' views may have some merit.

  2. mmack // January 22, 2008 3:22 PM  


    I TOLD you the reason Danny-boy got those teeth capped was to be the next N-word heartthrob!

    Kasey Kahne, LOOKOUT! Well-done is hot on your endorsement trail!

  3. Johnny // January 22, 2008 5:06 PM  

    Haha, that's if Kahne is out of jail after his assault case to vie for the "pretty" endorsement trail. I think Kahne's working a different demo now.

  4. meganfromindy // January 22, 2008 5:38 PM  

    Now boys can we blame him for looking out for his career? Nope! But he's not at the top of Chips list there's reasons for that. He should be glad that Chip wants him in the IRL car it's probably because he's really good at it! To me if he wants to leave Indycar and finds having won the Indy 500 isn't all it's cracked up to be send him off.

  5. Tim Wohlford // January 22, 2008 7:33 PM  

    Dan told me personally he wanted to go to NASCAR in August, 2006, but he wasn't willing to take a non-premium ride. I'm surprised that he's not seen driving ARCA test rides at ovals to see if he's any good at stock cars.

    I've documented the struggles of IRL / CCWS/ CART / F1 drivers in NASCAR in my articles. However, John Andretti makes more money as a backmarker in NASCAR than he would winning races in the IRL. In fact, Dario's dream season in the IRL (Indy 500, championship) earned him less money than several drivers that didn't make the NASCAR chase.

  6. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // January 23, 2008 9:23 AM  

    Ahhhh, they can have him.

    Besides, he's gotta find some way to pay for those new choppers.

  7. MoneyCJ // January 23, 2008 9:25 AM  

    It really is all falling apart, isn't it? Unreal.

  8. Zappatista // January 23, 2008 11:00 AM  

    Tim, you make a good point about them making more money and what not, BUT they make that money in twice as many races. No, IRL drivers don't make as much per race, but it isn't unsubstantial.

    As far as "Lil' Danny Boy" goes, goes, goes....gone. Oh well, looks like Lloyd could easily take is slot and then we wouldn't have to read articles by Phillips suggesting that no one has came through IPS that doesn't have blood lines.

  9. Carrie // January 23, 2008 12:14 PM  

    mmack - If Dan did that to be a NASCAR poster boy, he failed miserably. With the new look, Dan is the last person that the redneck types and fangirls will take to.

    As for the rest of it, Cheap continues to show his true colors. Anyone that thinks Dan didn't jump to TCGR for the NASCAR opportunities that were, at the time, open to him is crazy. Cheap pretty much screwed him by putting Dario first.

  10. mmack // January 23, 2008 12:59 PM  


    So you saw David "Now that Miller and Kirby have bailed I'M the man now!" Phillips SpeedtTV article on Matos too and came to the same impression I did: Waah, Waah, Waah, let's kick the guy in the ass now that he's gone so we'll all feel better. And we'll trash the series he's going to.

    Well Mr. Phillips, if you're going to criticize the IPS and its past champions, let's take a look at some past Atlantics Champions and where they are now, shall we?

    2006 - Simone Pagenaud. Served as a graphic warning to Matos on what happens to anyone who took the $2 million and stayed in CCWS. What team is he on for 2008 again?

    2005 - Charles Zwolsman. One full season at Conquest in '06, not in the series in 2007, and probably not in the series for '08.

    2004 AND 2002 - Jon Fogarty. TWICE tried to get a Champ Car ride after winning TWO Atlantics championships. Now driving (and getting PAID) in the Grand Am series, where he is the defending Daytona Prototype champ.

    2003 - AJ Allmendinger. Now getting paid to drive for Red Bull in the N-word series. To be fair, AJ got more than one season in CCWS.

    2001 - Hoover Orsi. NEVER made a CART\OWRS\CCWS start, last heard from (2006) splitting time in Brazil in stockers and in Grand Am.

    2000 - Buddy Rice. NEVER got a CART start. However, in the IRL as of last season and an Indianapolis 500 winner.

    So, looking back seven seasons and six champions, we have

    1 driver who ran more than one season in CCWS (no longer in CCWS, btw).
    1 driver that did a "one and done" season.
    1 driver that did a full season and is beating the pavement for funding for a second season.
    3 drivers who NEVER started a race in CART\CCWS.

    So, what does that say for Toyota Atlantics? I guess that "facts are an ugly thing".

    My favorite part of the article?

    "Thus, unlike 2006 Champ Car Atlantic champion Simon Pagenaud (who took his $2m to Team Australia last season without the aid of a high-priced agent), Matos needed a semi-lucrative salary in order to provide himself with something to live on after Caponigro got his cut. And while conspiracy theorists may be quick to paint Caponigro as the bad guy – he has worked closely with the Andretti family for decades after all – the fact is, he was just doing his job of getting as much money as possible for his client and, by extension, himself. That said, might Matos have been better served by an agent who found the commercial backing to supplement the Champ Car ride that was his client’s first choice, then took his cut from those moneys?

    Of course, nowadays there is precious little money to be found in Champ Car for proven drivers, let alone rookies.
    Paul Tracy aside, no driver is paid anywhere close to the seven-figure retainers of old. In most cases, drivers have to bring personal money or sponsorship to teams and take a cut of that for their living expense. Case in point, the aforementioned Mr. Pagenaud. Although he had a promising rookie Champ Car season in ’07, his prospects of finding a ride this year are “iffy” thanks to the fact that he no longer brings the Champ Car Atlantic prize to the table and has, so far at least, been unable to raise the sponsorship to replace it. In that, of course, he’s not alone – just ask anyone from Gerald Forsythe and Carl Russo to Dan Clarke and Ronnie Bremer how easy it is to raise sponsorship for a Champ Car program."

    Dave, sit down and let me explain a small fact of life: Professional sports teams PAY their athletes to work for them. How long do you think the NFL would last if San Francisco pried Tom Brady from New England for $250 million over five years, and then told Brady "Oh, btw, we don't actually have $250 million. So Tom, those endorsement deals you get? Could you take about 10%, live off that, and give us the rest for the length of the contract? That way we can pay the lease on the stadium and pay your teammates and all the employees in the back office. Oh, and if you're short, could you go and get some more endorsements?"

    I'm willing to bet Mr. Brady would shove a football straight down someone's throat if he heard something like that, but it's SOP in CCWS. So that might be a sign of a series that is in serious trouble.

    Another tip Dave: race car drivers don't mind paying their way as they work up the ranks, but I'm guessing once you reach the top of the ladder, you'd like, if not EXPECT to get paid for your effort. How long do you think you'd stay on SpeedTV if you had to pay to get your work posted?

    Sorry to pull the posts away from "The fair haired Danny Boy" (and Carrie, thanks for the comment), but I REALLY had to comment on Phillips piece after Zappatista made his spot-on observation.

    And speaking of bloodlines, Alex Figge wouldn't have a ride in CCWS if his dad didn't own Pacific Coast Motorsports.

  11. Rob // January 23, 2008 4:07 PM  

    At least we now know for sure how long Dan's contract with Chip was.

    Looks like 2008 will be his IndyCar farewell tour.