Sunday, July 26, 2009

NASCAR Silly Season 2009: Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Danica Patrick, and more

For the last several months, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series silly season has been in full swing, it’s always interesting to hear and see where some of these drivers, crew chiefs and team members will end up. One thing to keep in mind for the average fan is that most of the rumors and speculation are false.

I would say 8 out of 10 rumors are false the rumor has no truth to it, while 2 out of 10 either have some truth or are going to happen.

Most rumors are created either on the internet by some person who thought they heard something or even more, someone in the garage area at the racetrack that has an active imagination or just wanted to test the waters on how that rumor might be and someone else picked it up and published it.

Personally I try not to read too much into rumors nor write about them, however today I am giving my take on several drivers and teams and where some of the drivers might find themselves come either next season or in 2011.

However, a week or two ago, Michael Waltrip took himelf out of the rumor mill when he announced that he is going to semi-retire for the Cup Series, Michael Waltrip will drive the #55 NAPA Toyota part-time in the Cup Series next year including running the Daytona 500, NAPA and MWR announced that they have signed Martin Truex Jr. to a multi-year contract to drive the new #56 NAPA Toyota full-time in 2010. Last year Truex Jr. was looking to leave EGR, but couldn’t, but it’s good to see Truex move on to a new team, let’s see what he does both for the rest of 2009 and next season in 2010.

How about Stewart-Haas Racing – Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski? Ever since Tony Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing said that a third team is possible if the right driver and sponsor came along has set off a media world spin of rumors and speculation from Danica Patrick to Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski joining the team.

Let’s start with Kevin Harvick and his status. It have been reported that Harvick isn’t happy at RCR and that he might be looking to get out of his contract one year early. Both Kevin Harvick and his sponsor Shell-Pennzoil’s are signed thru 2010, however while Richard Childress has said neither the driver nor the sponsor are going anywhere in 2010, I believe otherwise. Here is why, I believe Richard Childress should explore the idea of finding another driver for the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, it might be what that team needs to be successful again.

Harvick is a good racecar driver, but the magic, the chemistry has gone away in that team and it seems like Harvick would be better at another team. Now I can completely understand Richard Childress’s position in this one, but another driver could be an option in the #29 Shell-Pennzoil next season. Harvick with another sponsor could be good in a third car at Stewart-Haas Racing, however there isn’t too many other rides open for Harvick for 2010, so making plans for 2011 might be exactly what he should do.

With a possible Stewart-Haas Racing opening or RCR opening, either one might be perfect for the rookie Brad Keselowski. Brad is a talented racecar driver, he has 7 starts in the Cup Series in 2009 with 3 top 10’s and won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega earlier this year. Brad Keselowski is trying to get a Cup Series ride at Hendrick Motorsports or a Hendrick support team like Stewart-Haas Racing or the #09 team. He might be a candidate for the #29 RCR car or a third Stewart-Haas Racing car, but I don’t see him anywhere else right now.

What about Red Bull Racing? Scott Speed is staying in the #84, that’s a given, that’s there boy, however for Brian Vickers, I don’t see a contract renewal here although for Red Bull, signing him might be there only real option.

One hard to imagine and hard to believe (of course most rumors are possible) rumor is Red Bull Racing will leave Toyota and move to Chevrolet with Hendrick support. This move could open the door for Brad Keselowski to drive the #83, I don’t have the quote, but I thought I heard Hendrick say they have room to support Red Bull Racing. That would be a shocker to me, I know that Hendrick support is big, but leaving Toyota which has big TRD support for Chevrolet that is cutting back on manufacturer support, I think tthey will sign with Toyota again and this one will be done.

What Roush-Fenway Racing and going from five teams down to four? Who will be moved to Yates Racing, Jamie McMurray or David Ragan? Personally I think he should drop Ragan to a full-time Nationwide Series ride and drop McMurray to either Yates or completely, that would free up a ride for another talented and ready for the Cup Series driver, that’s it, that was easy, of course that is just my opinion.

What about the famous IRL driver Danica Patrick? Let’s be straight here, in my opinion Danica will stay in the IRL IndyCar Series. She has a good IndyCar career there and should see it through, but it doesn’t hurt for her to explore her options, of course she made headlines when she recently visited SHR, RFR and too many more to name. I would say that one option could be her joining Ganassi Racing in the IndyCar Series in a third car for a 3 year contract, during that time, she could start a few races in the Nationwide Series races and in 2013 (when quite possibly the IRL folds), she would move to a full-time NASCAR ride with EGR.

Of course she could also stay at Andretti-Green Racing in the IRL and she if she could drive in another series, not sure what AGR has in the ALMS or Grand-Am series, could have some affliction there.

Well that is just a few silly season rumors and speculations, however what you, the reader should take away from this article are two things, first drivers, crew chiefs and team members can land just about anywhere were they can get a job, especially in this economy.

Second, rumors are rumors, if you are interested in a particular rumor, check the source first, but chances are its false, personally I like to say it’s a rumor when it is and wait for an official announcement for reporting on it.

One more thing, for crew members and team members who might find themselves involved in this silly season, I feel bad for them especially all of stories the last two years on DEI, that was horrible to hear, I can’t imagine what they might be thinking as if read this.

(Source - Photo: Michael Waltrip Racing website)