Wednesday, May 30, 2012

John King sidelined after Daytona victory

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR
John King became the face of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2012 after winning the season-opening race at Daytona. Now the rookie's team at Red Horse Racing has suspended its operations.

"Due to lack of sponsorship funding, the No. 7 will be cutting back its program until further notice," a team release said Tuesday. Red Horse Racing will continue to operate the No. 17 team for Timothy Peters, who sits second in points, and the No. 11 of Todd Bodine, ninth in the points. At the time of the suspension of operations, King was 13th in the points.

How can a team shut down operations after winning the Daytona race and the ensuing media attention?

Money, or lack thereof, is the first answer, but the other is consistent performance on track. Since the win at Daytona, King has finished 9th (Martinsville), 33rd (Rockingham), 13th (Kansas) and again 33rd at Charlotte. In five races he has an average start of 23rd and an average finish of 17th, as well as two DNFs.

After winning Daytona, King became the newest media sensation for winning the NextEra Energy 250 in his debut with Red Horse Racing. As he told me just days after that win, "I am focused and just the support we have from TRD and Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing engines, it's a fairy tale deal. Got a great crew chief (Chad Kendrick) and I cannot wait to see what transpires over this year."

Competing for the Rookie of the Year title, King remains hopeful for a return but that all hinges upon sponsorship. Coincidentally it was teammate Todd Bodine who earlier in the year had an agreement to run with Red Horse but needed sponsorship to continue; now the shoe is on the other foot.

Does this mean King's NASCAR career is over? Not at all. Many drivers have had this happen to them in the beginning of their careers. Only the strong and determined will succeed in such a tough business - John King will be back.

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