Bit of a shakeup at JR Motorsports on Tuesday, as Nationwide driver Kelly Bires has been handed his walking papers, effective immediately.
So why was Bires, who ran the Hellmann's No. 88 Chevy, ushered out the door? Let's go to Kelley Earnhardt, one of JR Motorsport's owners. Kelly?
"We are extremely appreciative of Kelly Bires and wish him the best."
Aw, come on! You can't just give us that! There's got to more, right?
"Internally ... "
Oooh, a little look behind closed doors! We like that. Go on ...
" ... it was evident the chemistry that is imperative for us to succeed in this highly competitive industry ... "
Yes? Yes ... ?
" ... was simply not there."
BOOM! Translation: sparks, baby! And when you're The Other Guy in an organization that's made up of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick and That Other Guy, you're not exactly dealing from a position of strength.
Bires has already gone public with his displeasure at being expendable, griping on Twitter just before Daytona that he was getting bounced so that Danica Patrick could drive. Obviously, that wasn't the end of the friction with Bires, and now he's gone. Chances are, he didn't get to keep that sweet JR Motorsports firesuit, either.
So who's going to drive now? How would a Daytona 500 winner sit with you? Jamie McMurray has agreed to take over the Hellman's 88 for nine races: Texas, Dega, Richmond, Darlington, Dover, Charlotte twice, Chicagoland and Atlanta. Sorry, Kelly, but that's a bit of an upgrade.
Bires is a quality driver and should get another chance somewhere else; there are plenty of top-flight drivers who have certain "chemistry" problems. But here's betting that if the fault was his, Bires will be a little more go-along-to-get-along next time.