James Finch (born 1950, Lynn Haven, Florida) is an American businessman. He is the owner of Phoenix Construction, a construction company that specializes in airport construction. He owned Phoenix Racing until late 2013 when he sold the team to Harry Scott. Finch began work in construction as a teenager, and later formed Phoenix Construction Services, whose first job was at Tyndall Air Force Base.
|Born||1950 (age 68–69)|
Lynn Haven, Florida, U.S.
|Occupation||Owner, Phoenix Construction|
Owner, Phoenix Racing
|Years active||1989–2013 (Phoenix Racing)|
Finch and Phoenix Construction have incurred criticism and several fines for environmental infractions and botched construction work. These incidents include filling a bayou in his home and filling wetlands in Panama Beach; the latter drew a $23,000 fine from the EPA. Finch has drawn nearly $2 million in fines.
Finch won a $1.7 million contract in the 1990s to build a pipeline across St. Andrew Bay that would carry away sewage from a nearby paper mill. After construction of the pipeline began, the pipe began to be built above ground, which was a violation of requirements set forth by the Department of Environmental Protection (10 feet below channel depth or 4 feet below the mudline) to prevent a dredge or anchor from breaking the pipe. Finch received a notice of non-compliance on May 25, 2000, but Finch and Phoenix were eventually cleared of responsibility after the work was corrected in 2005.
In 2009, Finch and Phoenix were fined for allowing stormwater runoff to pollute creeks and wetlands near Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Finch was fined $1.7 million by the DEP for permit violations in 2010, and the incident led to suits filed between Finch and the airport authority.
Finch began his racing team with driver Jeff Purvis in dirt oval track racing. He moved to NASCAR in 1989 in the Busch Series and then Winston Cup Series racing. Phoenix Racing fielded a single entry, numbered 51 and 09, on a mostly part-time basis in the Cup Series throughout its history before going full-time in its final years, and was known for its sponsorship from Miccosukee resorts. The team scored one win in the Cup Series, the 2009 Aaron's 499 won by Brad Keselowski. Finch announced in 2013 that he was leaving the sport after failing to find consistent sponsorship for the past three seasons.
In 2014, Finch partnered with the renamed HScott Motorsports to field an entry in the Daytona 500 for Bobby Labonte, with Labonte driving to a 15th-place finish. Later in the year, Finch funded sponsorship worth at least US$25,000 for Phil Parsons Racing's No. 98 car at Daytona in July, endorsing the Florida gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Charlie Crist. The decals were removed out of respect for PPR partner Mike Curb, a Republican former lieutenant governor of California. The relationship between Finch and Crist generated additional controversy when Crist was found to be using Finch's private Cessna plane en route to a global warming lecture.
Finch returned to NASCAR sponsorship in 2015, when Phoenix Construction sponsored the No. 98 for the Daytona 500. However, the car suffered an electrical failure prior to its Budweiser Duel race and failed to qualify.
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