Black Tuesday Is Upon Us: Claims 2 Crew Chiefs
The National Football League has Black Monday—the Monday after the season ends and the NFL teams fire their head coaches.
Well this Tuesday in NASCAR is now Black Tuesday. Sprint Cup teams usually take Monday off after a Sunday race and get back to work on Tuesday. This is the last off weekend of the season—an ideal time for change. Crew chiefs can get a week under their belts with their new teams before actually going racing.
This Black Tuesday has already claimed the jobs of two crew chiefs: Bob Osborne (pictured above) from the No. 99 team and Pete Rondeau from the No. 78 team.
So with two crew chiefs already packing their bags, it begs the question: who's next?
Chris Heroy: Crew Chief, Juan Pablo Montoya
Chris Heroy is first.
Heroy and his driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, have had a miserable 2012 season. So far, Montoya is 21st in the point standings—exactly where he finished last year.
He was 17th in the points at this time last season when Black Tuesday claimed his crew chief, Brian Pattie. He then fell to 21st in the standings to end the season with Jim Pohlman turning the wrenches.
All Brian Pattie has done is go to the 15 at MWR and win a race and help Clint Bowyer to a ninth place points position so far.
Montoya has done the opposite.
At this point last year, the 42 car was 17th in points with two top 5s and six top 10s.
This season, Montoya has ZERO top fives and two top 10s and only six top 15s in 19 races.
That's about as bad as you can get.
This EGR team made wholesale changes at the beginning of the year, firing long-time employees Tony Glover and Steve Hmeil after a disappointing 2011.
2012 hasn't been much better at all for Juan. His teammate Jamie McMurray is 20th in points but 34 points ahead of Montoya. McMurray was 29th at this point last year.
Jamie has improved, so using the excuse of the team not getting better may not work here.
If things do not turn around quickly for JPM (and the 42 team), Chris Heroy will be out of a job very quickly. This especially if Jamie McMurray has a good run at Indianapolis where Juan only has one top-10 finish in five career starts.
Drew Blickensderfer: Crew Chief, Jeff Burton
Drew Blickensderfer is another crew chief that could be out.
But his seat is not as hot as Heroy's for a number of reasons.
Jeff Burton's finishes still aren't where they should be; but if these are compared to 2011, "Blick" doesn't look that bad.
Burton was 25th in the series-points standings after New Hampshire last year. He's now 19th. He also had zero top 5s and top 10s at this point last season.
With two top 5s and four top 10s, Burton's season has improved, but that still doesn't leave Blickensderfer out of the hot seat.
Jeff still hasn't won a race in 2008. Since then, 26 different drivers have gone to victory lane, including all three of his teammates from 2011. That's not a good stat if you're Blickensderfer.
This winless streak needs to end, and Burton needs to have a big second half for Blick to stay because we almost know for certain he won't be making the chase.
Bootie Barker: Crew Chief, Casey Mears
Bootie Barker's seat is hot too. Now I know, most race fans are going to be up in arms about this; but if you look at straight facts, Barker's job could be in jeopardy very soon.
Last season, Mears and Barker took the No. 13 Toyota to a 31st place points finish and worked hard to get that team into the top 35.
But with sponsor Geico stepping up their funding, the team (Germain Racing) focusing fully on the Cup Series and a switch to Ford motors which are the strongest motors in the garage area horsepower-wise, people were expecting big things from this No. 13 Ford.
Instead, it's been utter disappointment once again. The No. 13 team is 28th in owner's points, putting them behind fellow solo car teams, like the 51, 47 and 78. I think out of the four teams, the team that should run the best is the 13. And yet they still aren't.
Bootie Barker hasn't had a top-10 finish as a crew chief, since the 2009 Daytona 500 with Michael Waltrip. That's saying something.
All I'm asking from him and this Germain team is to break the top 10, just once, and I'll be off their back. But with the way they've been running lately, that seems unlikely.
This team needs to crack the top 10 twice before the season is out just to prove that they can do it. If not, Geico may not be back; and if that's the case, Mears, Barker and the race team will not return either.
Doug Richert: Crew Chief, Landon Cassill
And finally we get to Doug Richert.
Richert's a good guy, but he could be on a warm seat.
His seat is not as hot as the previous three guys for several reasons.
First is the inexperience of his driver. Landon Cassill wasn't even an embryo when his crew chief won the Cup Championship in 1980. Cassill ran in the previous two seasons but started and parked mostly. So Cassill's inexperience is what could be hurting this team.
Also, this team is not too good. They just started out. But I think everyone, including Richert and Cassill, expected their best finish to be better than 18th, by this point.
And the fact that teammate Travis Kvapil and rookie crew chief Todd Anderson are 51 points ahead of Cassill in owner's points is about all I need to say.
It's time for Cassill and Richert to step it up. I'm not expecting Richert to win at Indianapolis, but a solid top 25 would be their sixth of the season in 20 races. Maybe a crew chief change would benefit this team, as Richert has not visited victory lane in six years.
If they don't pick it up, Doug Richert may find himself back in the truck series like he was a few years ago. And I know he doesn't want that.