Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Frye gets new deal from Red Bull Racing
By Mark Ashenfelter
Jay Frye had options, including the chance to work for Stewart-Haas Racing next season, but he has agreed to a multiyear contract extension to remain with Red Bull Racing.
Hired as the team's general manager in January, the new deal also makes him the team's vice president.
ESPN's Marty Smith reported on Sept. 5 that Frye had an offer from Stewart-Haas to become the team's vice president and GM. That same week, Frye flew to Austria to meet with Red Bull executives regarding the team's direction.
Frye returned from that meeting saying he was convinced the team would be a mainstay in NASCAR for years to come, but wouldn't address the offer from Stewart-Haas directly. On Tuesday, he made it clear he's staying put.
"I'm extremely pleased and quite excited to continue my relationship with Red Bull Racing Team," Frye said in a team news release. "It truly is amazing to see the levels of potential, desire and dedication this organization has for wanting to succeed and be a leading force each and every weekend we compete on the track. To be able to continue to see this team achieve its long-term goals is something I'm very committed to."
When asked the past several weeks where things stood with building the team Stewart will take over at season's end, the driver said that when he had something to announce, he'd do so.
Joe Custer is currently in charge of day-to-day operations at what is known as Haas CNC Racing until season's end.
Frye was CEO and GM of MB2 Motorsports, which became Ginn Racing in 2006. The team ran into financial difficulty in '07 and eventually merged with Dale Earnhardt Inc., which had its own executives in place. Frye has received credit for helping stabilize Red Bull Racing during its second season.
Brian Vickers sits 15th in points this year on the strength of three top-five and six top-10 finishes. AJ Allmendinger's team has also shown marked improvement this year, especially after Mike Skinner replaced Allmendinger for a period so the team could assess where it stood.
The first order of business for Frye may well be in determining the future of Allmendinger and Scott Speed, currently a developmental driver for the organization. Allmendinger remains unsigned and if Red Bull doesn't expand to three Sprint Cup Series teams in 2009, Speed could take over the No. 84 Toyota, with Allmendinger moving on.
Regardless of Allmendinger's future with Red Bull, he spoke highly of Frye's influence on the team last month.
"He's given it a lot of structure, a lot of leadership to where last year there were questions about who was running it and what decisions were being made and things like that," Allmendinger said. "Jay is a straight-up guy, he showed that to me when he took me out of the car for five races and he was up front with me and told me that it was still my race car and we just needed to see where we were at. It was a big deal because as a race car driver, the rule of thumb is that if you get out of the race car, then you rarely get back in it. He was truthful to me and he's done a lot of great things for this team."
Mark Ashenfelter is an associate editor at ESPN.