Last week I looked at what I called the top tier teams (Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush-Fenway, & Childress) now it is time to look at those teams that are close, but not quite there yet.
First up is the newly formed Stewart-Haas team. Just by having Tony take part ownership in the team and have him drive for it automatically makes this team a second tier team. With Hendrick motors and the technology that Haas had before Tony joined the team it would seem that all the pieces needed to make this team a race winner are there they just need to put the pieces together now.
Another second tier team that has ties with a top tier team is Doug Yates Racing. Yates has went through some rough times, but they seem to be on an upswing right now and with two solid sponsors in the fold they can now stop worrying about their next pay check and start focusing on making their cars faster and with their technical alliance with Roush-Fenway thing seem to be fitting into place. This could be a turnaround season for the Yates organization for sure.
The newly formed alliance between DEI and Chip Ganassi Racing is another tier two team. Ganassi has been successful in almost every form of auto racing that he has raced in except NASCAR and he wants to get to the next level in the Sprint Cup Series and DEI's corporate know how mixed with his racing knowledge might just be a match made in heaven. But will the two struggling racing giants see eye to eye? That is the question, and their combined success depends on the answer.
Speaking of a successful racer that has had limited success in NASCAR let us now turn our attention to Roger Penske. Roger lost Ryan Newman to Stewart-Haas, but he still has former Cup Champ Kurt Busch as one of his drivers. Make no bones about it Kurt can still drive a race car, but does he have a good enough race car to drive? Well Dodge has a new and more areodynamic nose are their cars this year and that combined with their new engine package you just might see a Penske car up front more often this year and it will probably be Kurt.
This leads us to another Dodge powered team; RPM - Richard Petty Motorsports. Ok it may have Petty's name up front but this team is owned by George Gillette. Essentially RPM is GEM with a few new faces. With that being said it would appear that RPM is moving in the right direction as well, but they still have some sponsorship issues with the 44 car. If this team can get a little consistency going you just might see driver Kasey Kahne (9) up front more often and maybe even in the Chase. But don't count on it, not this year anyway - maybe next year if they can get it turned around in the right direction this year.
The last two of the tier two teams are the Toyota teams Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) and Team Red Bull.
MWR has had a difficult time since its inception as Toyota's flag ship team a few years ago and I honestly don't see it getting any better than a tier two team this year. Will they do better than last year? They have to, or MWR will be in trouble for next year.
Now I think Red Bull will be on the rise this year. Scott Speed will be a good fit with Brian Vickers too. They will help each other for sure. You might even see Vickers in victory lane this year and if Team Red Bull can run more consistently look for Vickers to be in The Chase too - no championship though.
Well there you have it, my complete list of tier two teams for this year. Look for my break-down of the tier three teams next week.
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