By Shaun Burke
Over the past couple of years, one of the biggest controversies in NASCAR has been that of start and park cars. These teams drive across the country just to run a handful of laps, cash a check, and head back to Charlotte. Many times, these teams can be seen exiting the track before the conclusion of the race.
There are still a few teams, however, that struggle to find sponsorship yet continue to run an entire race. One of these teams is ML Motorsports.
Since jumping into the Nationwide series in 2006, ML Motorsports has fought the temptation to take “the easy road” and become a start and park team. They enter each and every race (sponsor or not) with the intentions of completing every lap.
After running four seasons as a true part-time Nationwide team, ML Motorsports made the commitment to run fulltime in 2010 with a duo of drivers. Shelby Howard would run his choice of races and Mark Green would run the remaining races. The deal proved productive as the #70 car finished in the top 30 in Owners Points in 2010.
At the end of 2010, ML Motorsports driver Shelby Howard began coming on strong late in the summer. The team had a car that they had been developing over the course of a few races and it appeared ML Motorsports was on the verge of becoming a solid top 15 team. They were receiving solid cars from KHI and were able to fine tune cars instead of rebuilding them. Unfortunately, with the development of a new car for 2011, ML Motorsports was at a difficult crossroads; they could either continue to develop a “dying” car or begin development of the 2011 Impala.
When the 2011 season began, excitement was all around in the ML Motorsports; they were locked into the Top 30 which guaranteed them a starting spot in each of the first five races. This resulted in a new energy drink, Race Fuel Energy Drink, jumping on board the 70 team.
After just six races into the 2011 season, ML Motorsports was dealt an extremely difficult blow. Driver Shelby Howard stepped down as driver leaving the team without a driver for Talladega. The team scrambled and was able to get Dennis Setzer into the car while they searched for a driver to run the car in the remaining races.
Fortunately for the team, David Stremme was available. The opportunity to put Stremme in the car for a two race deal was a good chance for the #70 team to baseline their equipment. The results were immediate as Stremme finished 20th at Nashville and a ninth at Richmond. The Richmond finish was the first top ten for the team since 2008 and only the third in their existence. After the great results, Stremme was asked to race a few more races in the 2011 season. Scott Wimmer has also run a couple of races while Stremme was unavailable. The good runs have helped the team land a new sponsor for the Kentucky race. Keen Parts, Inc., a parts company for Corvettes, has come on to support the #70 completely for the race.
The #70 ML Motorsports team doesn’t know what the rest of 2011 holds for them, but one thing is for sure; they will continue to fight as a one car team to be recognized.