| || BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Hut Stricklin is out of a Winston Cup
ride just one week after signing a three-year deal with SBIII Motorsports.
Team owner Scott Barbour closed the shop last week when a team
sponsor failed to meets its financial obligation. Stricklin, of
Calera, Ala., and the rest of the staff were laid off.
"I was as surprised as anybody," Stricklin told The Birmingham
News. "I got a phone call from Scott telling me the sponsorship
check wasn't any good and basically he wasn't in position to run
the team any more out of his own pocket. He went by the shop and
laid everybody off."
The closure leaves Stricklin out of a ride for the remaining
three Winston Cup races this year, as well as the entire 2000
"I'm devastated, totally," he said. "Here you are, a couple
of weeks into a three-year deal and thinking you're set, only to
have all this blow up."
Now, Stricklin is scrambling to find a car to drive. He said he
would consider potential rides on NASCAR's Grand National and truck
series but would prefer to stay with Winston Cup teams.
"I'll start exploring all the options and let 'em know I'm
available," he said. "I feel I've got five or six good years of
driving left. I still want to drive. I still enjoy it, and I still
want to win races."
Stricklin, in his 11th season of racing Winston Cup, joined
SBIII Motorsports in midseason. In 14 races with the first-year
team, Stricklin posted three top-15 finishes.
He failed to qualify for the past three events, but still signed
a three-year deal with the No. 58 Ford two weeks ago at Rockingham.
"I've gotten knocked down before, and somehow or other, I've
been able to get back up," he said. "It's just another blow I've