TALLADEGA, Ala. --- Marcos Ambrose wanted out at JTG Daugherty Racing last week to get a running start on his new job at Richard Petty Motorsports. Car owner Tad Geschickter refused.
It would have been easy to let Ambrose go, especially after he made critical remarks about the only team he's worked for in NASCAR, but Geschickter insisted his decision was based on business, not personal feelings.
That's not always the case in racing. When relationships go bad, business often turns personal.
Kasey Kahne was booted from Petty's organization two weeks ago, which made room for Ambrose. Kahne said he was too sick to drive a crippled car late in the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 16. Ten hours later, however, he participated in a 5-kilometer run. Richard Petty Motorsports had enough and released Kahne.
Geschickter decided to make Ambrose, Kahne's replacement in 2011, stay where he really didn't want to be.
Kahne announced in April he wouldn't come back to Petty's team, and that started a chain reaction of emotions that hasn't stopped. He signed with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet in 2012, which instantly put Mark Martin on the spot to give up the final year on his contract. Hendrick eventually worked out a deal to put Kahne at Red Bull Racing for one year before replacing Martin.
Kahne's relationship with the organization apparently suffered in the months that followed. Martin had to endure months of pressure to step aside; Scott Speed suddenly became the odd-man-out at Red Bull in 2011; and Ambrose is stuck playing out the string.
"It's kind of a jump start on next year, is what I see it as," Kahne said. "That's the biggest thing."
While the departure wasn't pleasant, Kahne is glad to be gone. For him, it was both personal and business.
"It was a mutual release and for me, I think that's a good thing for both sides," he said. "They're happy about it, and we're happy about it."
Reach Don Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org.