The economy has been rough for all team owners, but one is really feeling the pinch and has decided leaving NASCAR altogether is in his best interest. James Finch, car owner of the No.51 Chevrolet told the News Herald on Monday that, “I’m contemplating finishing up this year, and I don’t know if I want a sponsor.”
Finch has funded multiple races with his own money, and says the look for sponsors has burned him out. With the team able to acquire sponsorship for single races, and even blocks of races, he has has been unable to find the desired long term sponsor.
Finch intends to pull the plug on the racing team mid summer, with his entry into the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway being their last race. With plans to wrap up the whole racing organization before the Chase for the Sprint Cup starts, Finch said he will help his 18 employees that work at Phoenix Racing now find new jobs in racing if they do so desire.
This season, Regan Smith and A.J. Allmendinger have piloted the No. 51 in the Sprint Cup Series. Allmendinger has drove four races, finishing 11th at Phoenix, 13th at Bristol, 16th at Fontana, and 14th at Richmond. Smith has driven the other four races placing in 7th at Daytona, 22nd at Martinsville, 22nd at Kansas and 6th this past weekend at Talladega.
Even with the team doing well, and the drivers finishing with solid top 10’s, Finch being tied for 13th in owner points with 276 – is not enough for Finch or Phoenix Racing, “I don’t want to lose everything I’ve got trying to outrun people,” Finch said. “I can’t do that. It’s time to do something else and go from there. I’ve still got some cars I haven’t torn up. And I don’t want to build any new ones.”
This weekend at Darlington marks Phoenix Racing’s 777th start in NASCAR. Smith will pilot the No. 51 Phoenix Construction in the Cup series.