Photo by Jordan Buster / TheRacingExperts.Com
Frank Stoddard discusses the possibility of fielding one driver next season if the conditions are right.
By Dominic Aragon
While most teams participated in Thursday’s testing session at Kansas Speedway, Frank Stoddard’s FAS Lane Racing has been preparing to run this weekend’s race with 19-year-old Timmy Hill.
Hill, who has made three starts this season, will be making his fourth start this weekend, and second with FAS Lane Racing’s No. 32 entry. Team owner Frank Stoddard describes last week’s run with Hill as a success.
“He didn’t tear the car up, that’s obviously a plus,” said an ecstatic Stoddard. “We also ran competitive lap times, so it was good.”
Hill will be locked-in to the race this Sunday, as the No. 32 car sits comfortably inside the top-35 in owner points (34th). But with NASCAR doing away with the top-35 lock-in rule at season’s end, the policy’s effects will be felt by the smaller teams in the garage area. Stoddard seems to be embracing the new rules that will be put into action in 2013.
“If there were 58 cars coming to qualify every week, it might be different, but I was never really a big fan of the top-35 rule,” says Stoddard. “It’s a step in the right direction, going back to what we’ve done for centuries which was qualifying on time and provisionals.”
With five races left this season, the team’s rotating realm of drivers and sponsors will continue after this weekend’s race.
“We will go [next weekend] to Martinsville with Kenny Schrader,” says Stoddard. “Schrader [will also race] Texas and Homestead-Miami. We are not sure what we are going to do for Phoenix just yet.”
One of the standards the team has always had is to show up at the track and run the full race. 2013 will be no different. According to Stoddard, the primary focus is to find funding for all of the races next season, and if that means to keep alternating drivers in the car each weekend, that will be the plan.
Past champion Terry Labonte and veteran driver Ken Schrader are notable drivers that have piloted the car this season. And with teams having to qualify in on time next season and the use of the champion’s provisional being unlimited, the idea of running Labonte in more races might seem viable, but the question is would he be up for it?
“I think he doesn’t want to run more than five or six races [next year]. Hopefully we can work a program to have him run the plate races again.”
If the opportunity arises to place a driver with a full-time sponsor in the car, Stoddard says he would definitely consider it.
“If we could find the right partner out there sponsorship wise, and marketing wise, we’d be happy to run one driver,” explains Stoddard. “But the [economic] environment right now hasn’t dictated that we can do that just yet. I don’t know what next year’s going to bring just yet, but we’re hopeful that the partners that we’ve had are going to come back again.”