EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

4 full throttle questions for Rackley WAR owner Willie Allen

4 full throttle questions for Rackley WAR owner Willie Allen
Start your engines! Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images.

Today, I had the privilege of talking to Willie Allen, co-owner of the newly formed Rackley WAR racing team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He talks about how the new deal came together with co-owner Chris Sutton, and the challenges of running a new team with the COVID protocols. He also discusses the future of the team and who their driver could be in the next few weeks.

SportsMap: I am joined today by 2007 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year and newest Camping World Truck Series owner Mr. Willie Allen! Thank you so much for joining me.

Willie Allen: You bet! Thanks for having me.

SM: So first and foremost, a new team here with Rackley WAR, tell us a little bit about how this deal came together.

Allen: So I am partnered up with Curtis Sutton of Rackley Roofing, and we had a driver development late model team called WAR Development (That's where the name Rackley WAR came from plus we have a suspension company called WAR Shocks) and he sponsored one of our drivers named Brittney Zamora, and we just got to talking and hit it off, and he asked me about the possibility of running a truck team. And it had always been a goal of mine, so one thing led to another and here we are.

SM: So starting out, I know a lot of teams have alliances, can you talk about where you guys get some of your motors and the infrastructure of this new team and where your shop is?

Allen: So we are still in our same shop with our late model team here and our shock company WAR Shocks. So it gets a little crowded, but it actually works out well with the trucks. But what helped us get ahead of the learning curve was our alliance with GMS Racing, and they have been tons of help. They paint our bodies, do a lot of the fabrication and help with some of the engineering, so it's been really good to have their help. They have been awesome.

SM: I wanted to talk about your plan to enter William Byron in one of your trucks at Nashville. Are there plans to expand to two trucks in the future?

Allen: We definitely are looking into expanding to a second team. Our five-year goal is to have three teams, but hopefully soon we'll have a full time second team.

SM: That's really exciting to get a peek behind the curtain. For the next three races, you guys will have Josh Berry in the #25 truck. Could you possibly see a scenario where he could run the rest of the season?

Allen: Well first and foremost, I have known Josh and he's a great friend of mine. He should definitely be running full-time in the cup series, but definitely. We plan to take these two races and kind of go from there. But it would be great for us to work together and continue to build this program, but you know how this industry is. Everything changes in an instant so who knows what can happen next weekend, but anytime you can get Josh Berry behind the wheel you know he can get it done.

You can listen to the rest of the interview below:


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Will the Astros ever give Joey Loperfido a chance to fix the black hole at first base? Composite Getty Image.

So how long do you suppose the Astros will cling to the ludicrous notion that Jose Abreu will return to being a sustainably decent hitter (much less a good hitter)? The All-Star break? The trade deadline July 30? The day the Astros are eliminated from the playoff race? End of the season? End of his contract at the end of next season? Maybe they sign him to a two-year extension?

Since rejoining the team Abreu has played in 13 games, starting 12 of them. He has seven hits in 42 at bats for a .167 batting average. That’s only not horrible in comparison to the sub-pathetic .099 mark Abreu had when hiatus time arrived. Since returning, Abreu has walked once. If you remember or are familiar with Susan Powter you know what comes next. STOP THE INSANITY!

Kyle Tucker’s absence obviously punches a big hole in the Astros’ lineup. Still, that regularly running out Jeremy Pena in the cleanup or fifth spot in the lineup doesn’t seem completely ridiculous, is ridiculous! Pena has been abysmal for the last month. May 11 he put up his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. In 29 games since, Pena has added one more homer with an anemic on-base percentage of .238. Not batting average, OBP. Yuck. All teams solicit All-Star votes for non-worthy guys. Pena plays in the same league as Gunnar Henderson, Bobby Witt Jr., Corey Seager, and Anthony Volpe. Hyping Pena for the All-Star game is plain ol’ silly.

Jon Singleton ever slotting in the lineup fourth or fifth, sigh. He of one homer and 28 strikeouts in his last 79 at bats. It’s just a sad state of affairs that no one below Pena or Singleton in the lineup should obviously be higher in the lineup. Mauricio Dubon, Victor Caratini, Trey Cabbage are all bottom third of the lineup if in the lineup type guys. Chas McCormick seemingly losing almost all of his hitting ability has hurt. Yainer Diaz stinking for much more of the season to date than he’s been good has hurt.

The refusal to try Joey Loperfido at first base is somewhere from perplexing to stupid. Look, Loperfido is not an elite prospect. His poor contact skills may doom him from becoming a quality regular. But find out! He struck out a bunch in his first taste but also hit .333. The low upside of the Abreu-Singleton combo is obvious. Evidently to just about all but Astros’ decision makers. Going with Trey Cabbage over Loperfido in the outfield also underwhelms.

Chasing down the Mariners?

It could all still turn for the better, but the Astros are at increasing risk of fading to oblivion behind Seattle in the American League West race. They deserve to be 31-38. They have a losing record at home, they have a losing record on the road. They have a losing record in day games, they have a losing record in night games. They are 7-14 in games against left-handed starting pitchers, they are 24-24 (hey, .500, yippee!) vs. right-handed starters. It would take a serious collapse to fall entirely out of the Wild Card race before the trade deadline, but the Astros are flirting with danger there too. They have to leapfrog several teams to get to the third Wild Card position, currently held by the Minnesota Twins. This doesn’t seem to be a good weekend to gain ground on them. Not that A.J. Hinch’s Detroit Tigers visiting Minute Maid Park this weekend are anything special, though in Friday night’s series opener the Astros face the arguably best starting pitcher in the big leagues this season (Tarik Skubal). But the Twins have four games at home against the lowly Oakland A’s.

If Minnesota is not to overtake Kansas City and Cleveland to win the AL Central, you know Carlos Correa would love to make the playoffs at his ex-team’s expense. Wednesday Correa banged out the first five-hit game of his career. It’s pretty amazing that Jose Altuve has never had a five-hit game given how great a hitter he’s been and the relatively few walks he’s drawn. Sunday in Anaheim, Altuve racked up his 39th four-hit game. Remember, last September, Altuve hit five home runs over seven innings that overlapped two games against the Texas Rangers.

George Springer is the lone Astro ever to rack up six hits in a game, doing so at Oakland in 2018. So far this month, Springer is six for 40. Springer has two seasons left after this one on the six-year 150 million dollar contract he signed with Toronto. At 34 years old he is playing as if washed up. 2023 was the worst season of Springer’s career and he has fallen off a cliff from there thus far in 2024. Springer is batting .198 with his OPS at a sickly .582.

There is only one player in the modern era (1900 forward) of Major League Baseball to amass seven hits in a nine-inning game. In 1975 Rennie Stennett went seven for seven at Wrigley Field in a Pittsburgh Pirates 22-0 obliteration of the Chicago Cubs. The “Bleacher Bums” must have had fun that day.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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