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

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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

Penske Acura duo of Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves win third straight

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Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves made it three consecutive victories in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, winning Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to close in on the points lead in the DPi class.

After Castroneves started on the pole position in No. 7 Acura, Taylor took the checkered flag by 0.607 seconds ahead of Felipe Nasr’s No. 31 Cadillac.

Aside from being three victories in a row for Castroneves and Taylor (who also won at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta), it was the third consecutive victory for Team Penske at Mid-Ohio, which is the home racetrack for Acura.

Penske is in its final season with Acura, which announced this week that it’ll field DPi cars with Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing next season.

“I’m just proud,” Taylor told NBC Sports reporter Dillon Welch. “Helio did an amazing job at the start, kept his cool. It’s not easy starting on the outside, but he settled in, picked people off and put us in a position to jump the 31 on a stop.

“Then I felt like we were the strongest car on track when we had new tires. It was a real team effort.”

Helio Castroneves picked up Ricky Taylor and carried him several yards down the pit lane in celebration.

Helio Castroneves carries Ricky Taylor away from their No. 7 Acura while celebrating their victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (IMSA).

“This guy, I’m so proud of him,” said Castroneves, who will be returning to the NTT IndyCar Series next weekend. “The entire Team Penske, Acura, it’s a team, and today it was all about being cool.

“Last year, I had a little issue and lost my cool at the start of the race, and we threw the race away, so this time, if something happens, I know we’re going to come back, and here we are in victory circle.”

With three races remaining this season for the premier class, Castroneves and Taylor have moved to third in the standings, five points behind Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe, who finished third in the No. 10 Cadillac at Mid-Ohio.

Ranked three points behind in second is Pipo Derani, who is Nasr’s teammate.

The championship race could have been tighter as Acura Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya passed van der Zande for third after the cars banged together a few times with 10 minutes remaining.

But Montoya spun off course a few minutes later in Turn 1 and handed a podium finish back to the Wayne Taylor Racing car.

“Bashy, bashy right there,” van der Zande said. “Old school NASCAR racing, I guess. I’m not so used to that. He was very aggressive but also very very fast. It was a fantastic race for us.”

The final three races will be held at Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca and Sebring.

“It was a great third place with a lot of pressure from Montoya and Mazda and everyone really,” Briscoe said. “We’ll take the points and keep pushing. It’s so close. Can’t think too far ahead, but we’d love to get another win or two to finish out the season. There’s some really big races coming up, and this team tends to excel in the long races, so we’re looking forward to it.”

In other divisions at Mid-Ohio:

–Corvette Racing scored its first victory at the track in eight years as the No. 3 Corvette C8.R of Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia won from the pole position. Teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner finished second in a class that featured only four cars because of the pullout of Porsche.

It was the fourth victory this season for the No. 3 and the fifth for Corvette, which also is 1-2 in the points standings with the No. 3 ahead by 17 points.

“It was a perfect weekend for our Corvette,” Taylor told NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman. “The car rolled off the truck really well. This was one of the tracks where we never tested at, so the preparation by the team really set us up well. … We’ve been so strong on pace and reliability.”

Said Garcia: “It’s a shame that Porsche is not here as we want them back for sure. It was a brilliant job by everyone. Jordan did a fantastic job all day long, getting on pole and then getting a solid lead even if there were a ton of yellows. The C8.R worked perfectly again today.”

–The No. 14 Lexus of AIM Vasser Sullivan won in the GTD class, moving drivers Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth to the points lead. With four races remaining, Telitz trails the No. 86 Acura by two points, and Hawksworth is four points behind.