It may not be a matter of great suspense, but Chevrolet has renewed its contract with Richard Childress’s racing enterprise, RCR. All of the Cherolet team contracts with the company for Nextel Cup expire at the end of this year.
Though Hendrick Racing and DEI-Ginn racing are expected to renew their Chevy contracts, as well, there’s question about the status of the fourth big Chevy team: Gibbs. Persistent rumors have Toyota courting Joe Gibbs and doing all it can to encourage Gibbs to jump to Toyota.
Yesterday, former Cup champion and current Toyota driver (for Michael Waltrip Racing), Dale Jarrett said he believed Toyota’s current teams would welcome Gibbs to Toyota, and that the expertise Gibbs brings would be of value to all of the present Toyota teams.
Chevrolet has publicly stated that it remains in negotiation with Gibbs
For its part, Hendrick Racing has orally committed to a new deal with Chevrolet, and awaits only the preparation of the necessary documents.
Should Gibbs decide to end his relationship with Chevrolet and jump to Toyota, it would raise a number of interesting questions.
First, of course, is who would replace Gibbs at Chevrolet. Chevrolet has publicly stated that they have a budget for the support of four top level teams. Defection by Gibbs would leave an open slot. At one time, it might have be thought that Ginn Racing would be a logical candidate for the position. But, with Ginn and DEI merging, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious successor.
Second, can Gibbs succeed with Toyota? Performance of the current Toyota teams has ranged from lackluster to miserable. Gibbs himself has been an absentee owner, coaching the Washington Redskins and letting his son run the Cup operation. It is not obvious that adding Gibbs would lead to Toyota victories.
It’s one thing to have an operation that needs merely to stay on top. It is another to run an organization that needs to catch-up. Just ask those fellas over at Petty Enterprises about that problem.
Third, if Gibbs defects, will it affect Tony Stewart’s chanced for the Cup this year? Though Chevrolet’s contract with Gibbs extends through the end of the season, there certainly would be reason for Chevrolet to diminish as much as possible the flow of technical information to a team that is leaving in a few months for a competitor’s operation.