Leavine Family Racing were hit especially hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic. Could that lead to the sale of the NASCAR Cup Series team?
“Unprecedented” is a word that has been used when describing most aspects of human life since March, when the coronavirus pandemic began to wreak havoc on all kinds of plans across the United States. Like everything else, NASCAR was unable to avoid the effects of the threat posed by COVID-19.
The sport ended up entering an unexpected hiatus that lasted for a total of 10 weeks from Sunday, March 8 to Sunday, May 17, when the Cup Series returned with a previously non-scheduled race at Darlington Raceway.
While the financial strain caused by the pandemic certainly had an effect on all of the sport’s team, it hit some harder than others. Particularly, the smaller teams suffered the most, and among those smaller teams is Leavine Family Racing, a one-car family-run organization that opened up in 2011.
Team owner Bob Leavine has stated that he is “walking that tightrope” just to keep his team running beyond the conclusion of the 2020 season due to the aftermath of the pandemic.
While things might have seemed to have stabilized in recent weeks, that may not be the complete truth when it comes to what is going on behind the scenes.
It has been reported that a sale of the team is a sad possibility for one of the more genuine people the sport has to offer. According to Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern, sources have reported that Leavine has solicited prospective bids for the team in recent months that are in the “mid to high seven figures”.
This is a particularly significant development right now, in that Leavine Family Racing have a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. Christopher Bell, who is under contract with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, currently competes for them behind the wheel of the #95 Toyota.
Bell’s deal is reportedly a “multi-year” deal, and the eventual goal is naturally to move him up to one of Joe Gibbs’s four Toyotas. Erik Jones is the only one of the team’s four drivers without a contract to compete next year, and negotiations have already begun in that respect.
But Jones, 24, is more than 10 years younger than any of Joe Gibbs Racing’s other three drivers, and Bell is only 25. Ideally, the team would like to keep both of these young drivers within the organization for the long haul, especially since two of their three drivers are slated to be quadragenarians next year and the other one is slated to turn 36.
However, there simply may not be room, and the prospective sale of Leavine Family Racing could have major implications in that regard, perhaps even on Bell’s future with Toyota should Jones end up sticking around.
Of course, nothing has been confirmed yet. But this is a situation to monitor for more than one reason as the 2020 season progresses.