The only surprises on the Sprint Cup Series entry lists come from the teams at the bottom of the points standings, and for the most part, the surprises aren't all that surprising. However, the entry list for Sunday's race at Pocono had a double take moment with the inclusion of John Wes Townley.
Yes, the same John Wes Townley who planned to return to NASCAR before the 2012 season but was suspended by his team, RAB Racing, for the first race of the Camping World Truck Series season for being arrested for DUI. The same John Wes Townley who parted ways with Richard Childress Racing after just five Nationwide Series races in 2010 and boasts not one single top 10 in 57 NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races.
Townley will be driving the No. 32 for FAS Lane Racing this year. The car, in 34th position in the owner's points standings, is locked into the race. While FAS Lane hasn't been competitive this year, Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte, Mike Bliss, Reed Sorenson and TJ Bell have all taken turns behind the wheel. Labonte and Bliss have NASCAR championships. Hell, TJ Bell has 13 top 10s in the Truck Series. And now Townley will join them on the No. 32 driver roster.
The reasoning for FAS Lane putting Townley in the car is simple. His father is the co-founder of Zaxby's Restaurants. Zaxby's has sponsored Townley for much of his career and will be on the No. 32 on Sunday. It's precious funding for a team that's been off the pace but running at the finish at all but three Sprint Cup Series races this season -- and those three ended early because of accidents.
It's not a stretch to wonder if Townley would have a NASCAR career if it wasn't for the funding that his family provides. Yes, Zaxby's hasn't sponsored his truck for RAB this year, but the chain sponsored his first 44 NASCAR races. He may not even have gotten a shot if he hadn't had a father who is the CFO of the chain and a stockholder in over 40 restaurants.
But with the sponsorship landscape being what it is in NASCAR, funding has become the 1B to talent's 1A. (Or maybe it's the other way around?) Just look at the patchwork of sponsors that Matt Kenseth, the freaking points leader before crashing on Sunday, has had this season. With the costs of fielding a Sprint Cup car -- lest even a competitive one -- still rising while corporate spending isn't, a situation like this was inevitable.
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