MST exclusive: BK Racing co-owner Anthony Marlowe apologizes for Cole Whitt/David Ragan tweet controversy

Leave a comment

It’s not every day that a NASCAR team owner publicly apologizes for an error he made, especially in a large forum such as Twitter.

But give BK Racing minority owner Anthony Marlowe credit for making a classy move at righting his wrong by offering exclusively to MotorSportsTalk a heartfelt apology and explanation for his inadvertent actions.

First, the back story:

Marlowe inadvertently tweeted congratulations Tuesday night to his young driver, Cole Whitt, for accepting a ride for 2015 with Front Row Motorsports, replacing David Ragan, who had been in that ride the past three seasons.

Marlowe and Whitt had both joined BK Racing earlier this past season as minority investor and driver, respectively, after Swan Racing shut its doors less than 10 races into the 2014 campaign.

There was only one problem with Marlowe’s tweet, however: FRM issued media statements Wednesday that Whitt replacing Ragan was incorrect and that the organization fully expected the Unadilla, Georgia native back in the No. 34 Ford Fusion in 2015.

Here is Marlowe’s entire statement to MotorSportsTalk:

“I did not intend for it to make national news,” Marlowe said of his original tweet. “Aside from it being smart alecky, it was just a tweet congratulating a friend, and current supplier of driver services on his ride for next year.

“We could have had someone else drive the 26 car this year at BKR, but my new partners and I felt (Whitt) deserved a full season after his past NASCAR teams were not committed to him for the long term, along with his auspicious start to the 2014 season. That mission was accomplished.

“Additionally, we offered Cole (and it has been on the table since July) a multi-year option contract in the Cup series. Needless to say, I wish he would have stuck around and built this franchise with us over the years, but he obviously has and/or somehow created a better opportunity somewhere else.”

On David Ragan / The number:

“I should have left the number 34 out of it (the tweet). Although I am fairly confident based on my multiple sources that he (Whitt) is going to Front Row, not all of those sources have been so sure it is the 34 car.

“Regardless if time tells us any of this is true or not, I feel like I owe David Ragan an apology. He is a Cup winner and seemingly great guy. I sincerely regret him being pulled into this.”

What tipped me off (that Whitt was leaving):

“What tipped me off that Cole was going to Ford was Cole himself on the radio at the Texas Chase race. He said something along the lines of Front Row’s Ford’s being gnarly coming off the corner.

“I was confused, since we were on the lead lap racing for a top 25 finish, and FRM was 6 laps down racing for 35th. The following Monday morning, I asked a few people questions, and a pattern started to emerge. Our teams had heard rumblings in the garage in the weeks prior, but when guys from the Front Row shop start talking to other owners about it being imminent days after Homestead, it becomes hard not to believe at this point.”

On 2015 for BKR / NASCAR:

“Putting my investor hat on, which at the end of the day is all I am, I think what people don’t understand is that I am attracted to BK Racing much more than other teams because it kind of resembles a social media startup, for example.

“Sure, cash flow is important at some point, but appreciation and media/ad capacity is key. BK Racing has one the highest potentials for exponential accretive value increases in the entire sport in my opinion. Albeit very risky, but no risk no reward.

“When we convert more or all of our $27,000,000 in annual underutilized media/ad space to revenue, the valuation of our franchise will soar. The higher you finish in the field, the more media/ad capacity one is likely to have, so not only does revenue multiple soar, but so does the revenue potential itself.

“So although my journey inside of NASCAR has been a bumpy one, I am thankful and optimistic for an early opportunity with what is essentially the largest start up team in (NASCAR’s) Premier series.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.