Harry Scott didn't envision himself as a Sprint Cup Series owner right now.
Long-time Phoenix Racing owner James Finch put his team up for sale during the 2013 season and found a willing buyer in Scott. Scott, co-owner of Turner Scott Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, had desired to move up to the Sprint Cup Series. But he was thinking down the road to 2015 or so. At least until Finch approached him.
"When this opportunity came about with Phoenix Racing and when James Finch came to me about it, it was probably, to be honest, a year or two ahead of what my timetable was -- my ideal timetable," Scott told Yahoo Sports. "But there were a number of factors that kind of pushed me over the edge and made me decide to jump in."
First, Scott knew that if Finch found a buyer other than him, there was no telling when the next opportunity to buy a Cup team would come about. Justin Allgaier, a 27-year-old TSM driver who had finished in the top-six of the Nationwide standings over the past five seasons, wanted to make the move to the Cup Series. And his sponsor, Brandt, wanted to as well. Three major factors were coming together at once. Screw the timetable, it was time to jump in.
The deal was finalized in September and the team was renamed HScott Motorsports with Allgaier slated to be the full-time driver in 2014 after running four races at the end of 2013. So Sunday's Daytona 500 was Scott's first as a car owner in the Cup Series and Allgaier's first as a driver. He finished 27th after being caught up in an accident with seven laps to go.
"The realistic goal for this year is to see Justin run consistently, or have finishes consistent in the best case, 18th-25th," Scott said. "Now there are going to be some races where we're worse and there are some races where we do better. But I want him to be consistent in that range, and if we finish 20th-22nd in owner points, I think we've done well this year because we've got a new team, a new owner, obviously a new crew chief, rookie driver, we've got all new cars. There's going to be a learning curve there."
And while Scott's near-term goals are modest and realistic for his single-car team (the team will run a second car with Bobby Labonte on a limited basis), does the new Sprint Cup Chase format change the team's approach at all? Race winners from the first 26 races are essentially guaranteed a berth in NASCAR's playoffs.
If the current format was in effect last year, Front Row's David Ragan would have made the Chase based off his win at Talladega in May. Ragan finished the year 28th in the points standings.
"It will depend on where we are and what the specific circumstances are," Scott said. "But I will tell you, I don't know if we would take a big gamble on fuel, because we're also running for rookie of the year -- there are a lot of other races within the race. But I will tell you that we will weight our investment and our resources on the races that we think we have a better chance to win based on the type of races and where Justin does well.
"The restrictor plate races we'll weight, we'll put a bigger effort in. The road course stuff, we'll try to do really well for him because he's won a road course race and he's a great road course racer. So those kinds of things -- we're definitely with the new Chase format going to put more emphasis on those races."
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