Bires NASCAR Future in No. 33 Car Sings End For Gale

Brandon CaldwellCorrespondent IApril 7, 2009

WEST ALLIS, WI - JUNE 21: Kelly Bires, driver of the #47 Clorex Ford awaits his turn to qualify prior to the Camping World RV Rental 250 at The Milwaukee Mile on June 21, 2008 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

The feelgood story going into Nashville, so far, had to have taken place Monday, when the entry list for the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Speedway was posted.

We saw our staples of the Nationwide Series, but driving the No. 33 Charter Communications Chevrolet for KHI is 24-year-old Kelly Bires.

Bires competed full-time on the Nationwide Series, last season when he drove the No. 47 Clorox Ford for JTG/Daugherty Racing.

He sat on the pole at the fall race in Dover, and nearly won it, until a blown tire put his Ford in the outside wall, ending his day in dramatic fashion.

After a very solid 2008, where he finished 13th in points, Bires and JTG/Daugherty Racing fully expected him to be back in the No. 47 Toyota for 2009.

But after a switch of manufacturers, and JTG/Daugherty Racing's decision to go Cup racing with Marcos Ambrose, taking Clorox as one of the sponsors for the Cup car, the 47 Nationwide Series team was left looking for a sponsor.

Everyone around the sport thought that sponsors would be eager to jump on the No. 47 and hot-shot young driver Kelly Bires.

But no one called.

Leaving Bires without a full-time ride, and the 47 team with Michael McDowell.

With McDowell in the 47, Bires only hope going into Daytona was to get the No. 51 Dodge for little known BlackJack Racing into the Daytona 500.

That was a long shot of course.

And Bires put up a solid effort in his Gatorade Duel race, but came up short.

Kelly Bires was left without anything going into the remainder of 2009.

Then Braun Racing came calling.

They needed a driver for Las Vegas to get the car in the race.

Kelly Bires did that, then again at Bristol.

At age 24, Bires was barely hanging on to his NASCAR career.

Which leads us to Nashville and Bires back in a competitive car for the first time this season.

Bires is going to drive his heart out for Harvick, and try and win that Nationwide Series bonus, and not a bad pick by anyone to do so.

It's awesome to see Kelly Bires drive competitively again.

But with every happy story, there is also a sad story.

With the signing of Bires, it may spell the end for Harvick's developmental driver, Cale Gale.

Gale, the newest member of the Alabama Gang, and early in the season it was announced that he and Harvick would split the No. 33 Chevrolet for 2009.

But with race teams, sponsors seem to have the final say these days, and sponsor won't back Harvick's 24-year-old driver.

With announcements of Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, and now Kelly Bires, there seems to be no room for Gale.

This economy has halted the careers of other young drivers, too. Bryan Clauson, a developmental driver for Ganassi Racing; Marc Davis and Brad Coleman, developmental drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Chase Miller, a developmental driver for Richard Petty Motorsports, have all had to either scale back their programs, or lose their rides due to the economy.

So it's really nice to see a young driver hang on in a Series where it is desperate to get good seasoning in their careers.

Kevin Harvick may have just saved Bires' career, and that will pay off with a win in Nashville on Saturday for Bires.