On Wednesday, Leavine Family Racing announced that they have switched from Chevrolet power to Toyota and have signed Matt DiBenedetto as their driver for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. This is another win for NASCAR. DiBenedetto, is the third driver in less than two weeks to be signed to a Cup Series ride and he didn’t have to bring money to do so.
It’s a shift back in the good direction.
One of the biggest problems in racing nowadays is it’s become a “pay to play” sport. A lot of talented drivers are sitting on the sidelines watching while some less than talented drivers are in valuable rides. The only reason they’re in those rides is they bring money. The best way to describe it is this, imagine if the NFL was a pay to play model like this and you have Drew Brees who admittedly is an aging superstar but still enough gas left in the tank to be very productive. But, the New Orleans Saints want to go younger and cheaper and bring in a new quarterback who struggled through the collegiate ranks but is willing to PAY the Saints millions to be their quarterback. Yes, you read that right, he’s paying them to be their quarterback. The Saints, then go to Brees and say, while you just set the passing yardage record, we have a new quarterback who’s younger and paying us $2 million to be our starting quarterback. What can you bring? Brees, says, I’ve got no money to bring to the table but I have a Super Bowl ring and all these records and accomplishments during my career. The Saints say, well it’s a business and we need to let you go.
That doesn’t make any sense does it? This is how racing in general has become.
It shouldn’t be how much money mommy and daddy are willing to fund a drivers career. It should be about pure talent. That’s why the recent signings of Alex Bowman to Hendrick and Darrell Wallace Jr. for this season and Ryan Preece, Daniel Hemric and now DiBenedetto for next season are swings back in the good direction. Those five have no money to bring to the table. They could bring some funding and drive for smaller budget teams and be after thoughts, or they could do what all did and race clean and take what little they have for limited opportunities with a top team.
Bowman got let go from an underbudget Cup ride and scaled back to select races in the XFINITY Series. Preece, left a full time ride for a limited opportunity in the XFINITY Series with Joe Gibbs Racing. DiBenedetto, announced at Indy that he was leaving a full time Cup ride to look for an opportunity with a bigger team.
All bet on themselves and it worked out.
This is the way racing needs to go. We need to see talented drivers in good cars, not some wannabe racer that has very little talent but a fat pocket of cash to offer.
Good for Richard Childress Racing to take a chance on bringing Hemric up. Good for JTG Daugherty Racing to sign Preece. Good for LFR to sign DiBenedetto. Good on Hendrick to bring up Bowman. Good on Richard Petty Motorsports to take a leap of faith on Wallace.
This is how it’s supposed to work.