BK Racing has had it really, really rough over the last couple of months.
It's had some of its equipment added to an auction page (since removed) to help settle a tax debt. It's embroiled in a dispute with a bank over its debt. It' driver, Coey LaJoie, left for Tri-Star Racing and crew chief Doug Richert left, too.
The constant stream of bad news has had an impact on the team, and owner Ron Devine told Frontstretch sponsors have left the team as a result.
"They left because of all the bad publicity we get," Devine said. "I don't blame them. I don't blame the sponsors for being leery because of all the stuff they hear about BK Racing and all the stuff they read - all the stuff about I'm in a battle with a bank and because of my IRS situation that has been going on for many, many years. I'm absolutely sick of it. It sickens me to my stomach that people scoop that low and make a bigger issue out of something than it really is."
Big issue or not, the bad news has certainly had an impact. While BK Racing will race the No. 23 at Daytona -- and says it plans to race the car in all 36 Cup Series races -- it just last week named Gray Gaulding as its driver. The team also still have the No. 83, but Devine doesn't know whether it will see the track this season.
"God bless NASCAR for putting up with all the nonsense around us," he said. "I'm so grateful. My goal this year is to clean that up."
All of this comes against the backdrop of continued financial issues plaguing the team. It faces a Feb. 15 hearing in court in which Union Bank and Trust has asked a court to appoint a receiver to operate the team, according to an ESPN report. By doing so, the bank could then sell or lease BK's charter. which would recoup some of the money the bank says the team owes.
The bank claims BK owes it more than $7 million, and the North Carolina Department of revenue has already seized $210,000 in assets.
ESPN reported that a temporary restraining order is still in effect, so team owner Ron Devine can't sell any assets or his charter.
In another development the three haulers and a car that belonged to BK and were listed on Classic Auctions, on its website, have apparently been taken down. Bob Pockrass of ESPN noticed the change:
This is what had been on the site.
And here are photos of the haulers and cars:
It's worth noting that team owner Ron Devine denied a report that the haulers had been seized.
Union Bank & Trust also claims that BK Racing owes it money on a loan that included two charters as collateral. The bank claims it has the rights to the charter for BK Racing's No. 83 car.
Front Row Motorsports bought the No. 83 charter, and they leased the charter to TriStar Motorsports. Cole Whitt drove the No. 72 car for the 2017 season.
Teams can only lease a charter for one year, so the charter now belongs to Front Row Motorsports unless the court determines otherwise.
Drivers of the 36 charter teams automatically have a spot in the Daytona 500, which leaves four spots for non-charter teams.
Devine, in the past, has downplayed the financial issues.
"They wanted to make a big stink about it so that we would react and do stuff that we don't want to do with them," Devine said. "We're working on it. I actually have an agreement with them in place.
"They're not going to stop [the lawsuit] until we finish, but we have an agreement that will get us cleaned back up."
Devine claims the bank doesn't have the rights to the No. 83 charter, but Devine said he isn't concerned about the issue.