Friday, August 6, 2010

2010 NASCAR Silly Season Part 1: The facts, the speculations and the predictions. UPDATED

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, today the discussion is all about silly season and where drivers and sponsor will be heading for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. As of today, there has already been a lot of news released by teams as well as a lot of speculations and rumors of who is going where.

So let’s start with what we know to be fact or made official:

1. Kasey Kahne has signed a multi-year deal to drive the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in 2012. And Mark Martin and Rick Hendrick have said that Hendrick will honor Mark Martin’s contract and Martin will be driving the #5 next season. That was made official back in April.

However on the speculation side, rumors have been running wild as to where Kasey Kahne will be driving next season. All we know for sure is, its Rick Hendrick’s deal and he will tell us when it ready. The options could include Kasey Kahne driving the #9 in 2011, a third car team at Stewart-Haas, Hendrick affiliated with James Finch like they did in 2009 with Brad Keselowski or even Kahne running out of his race shop with everything made at Hendrick. The options are there and its Rick Hendrick, he will make it happen. (Read more…)

UPDATE: On August 10, 2010, Red Bull Racing and Rick Hendrick made it official, Kasey Kahne will drive the Red Bull Toyota in 2011. The move means that Kasey Kahne will have and be driving for Dodge for several seasons, Ford this season, Toyota next season and Chevrolet in 2012. (Read my article here...)

2. UPDATE: On August 11, 2010, RCR announced that they have signed Paul Menard with father’s company to a multi-year deal to drive the fourth car at RCR. This speculation turned official news today has been around for the past week or so and I’m laughing at this point. I’m sorry, but why would RCR want Paul Menard considering RCR’s 3 car team is running good and Paul Menard while he brings sponsorship, isn’t a top driver. I know the sponsorship is there, but why… But now that its official, I guess time will tell if it was a good move or will it just end like all of the rest. Personally if Paul Menard is running good in the Nationwide Series, then that should be his series. Learn the car, drive and contend week in and week out for race wins.

3. Shell-Pennzoil will join Penske Racing in 2011 to sponsor Kurt Busch in the #22 Dodge. With his deal, Brad Keselowski will now move over and drive the #2 Miller Lite Dodge. This Shell-Pennzoil deal is huge for the both the company and Penske racing. (Read more…)

4. Marcos Ambrose will leave JTG Daugherty racing at the end of the 2010 season. However even Marcos Ambrose himself doesn’t know where he will drive in 2011. On the speculation side of this is that Ambrose will drive either the #9 or #19 if sponsorship can be found at RPM. He isn’t ruling out returning to Australia, but I hope he stays in NASCAR.

5. Bobby Labonte will drive the #47 JTG Daugherty Toyota in 2011. This has been made official. This will be a good ride for Bobby Labonte and I wish him well in his quest to return to victory lane.

6. A.J. Allmendinger has just signed a multi-year deal to stay in the #43 RPM Ford, but sponsor unknown for sure. And David Reutimann just signed a multi-year deal to drive the #00 in 2011 as well.

Speculation, rumors and predictions:

1. Who will drive for Richard Petty Motorsports and how many cars with RPM field? I’m thinking two, maybe three cars due to lack of sponsorship and drivers leaving. The #43 with A.J. Allmendinger is a lock, but the #9, #19 and #98 are all up in the air. I think Marcos Ambrose will end up either in the #9 or #19 in 2011 with an unknown sponsorship. Kasey Kahne could stay in the #9 and so could Elliott Sadler stay in the #19. Nothing has been made official, so doors and rides are open.

2. Who will sponsor Kevin Harvick in 2011? After his rant on Shell-Pennzoil, I think the doors are closing quickly. I’ve heard online and Twitter that sponsors are interested in RCR, but not Harvick, who said that I don’t know. But I do know that Shell-Pennzoil didn’t deserve what they got from Harvick and they got a good deal with Penske Racing, something RCR couldn’t match. I’m thinking maybe Budweiser, Mobil 1 could be possible.

3. Where will Elliott Sadler drive in 2011? This isn’t a rumor, but my opinion, I believe Kevin Harvick should sign Elliott Sadler to drive the #2 in the Truck Series after his Pocono victory. Sadler would be a contender in the Truck especially in KHI equipment and a good teammate for Ron Hornaday Jr.

4. Red Bull Racing? Brian Vickers health condition is still unknown and Scott Speed hasn’t shown much in 2010. This isn’t a rumor, but my opinion, As for Speed, find the Nationwide Series and gain experience period. Red Bull should bring in a veteran driver like Terry Labonte and get their Toyota program back into the gear.

5. Will Joe Gibbs Racing expand to a fourth car team? I really don’t think so especially considering they need to work on their current 3-car team with Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. However a fourth car team with a veteran driver would help if driver and sponsor could be found. I always look at Terry Labonte in cases like this where a veteran driver is needed.

Who is in place in 2011:

Roush-Fenway Racing is locked with (Biffle, Kenseth, Edwards and Ragan), Hendrick Motorsports is locked with (Gordon, Johnson, Martin and Earnhardt Jr.), RCR is locked with (Harvick, Burton and Bowyer), Michael Waltrip Racing is locked with (Reutimann, Truex Jr. and Labonte including JTG Daugherty Racing), JGR is locked with (Busch, Logano and Hamlin), Stewart-Haas Racing is locked with (Stewart and Newman), EGR is locked with (Montoya and McMurray – McMurray is staying, there’s no question there), Penske Racing is locked with (Busch and Keselowski)

Red Bull Racing, RPM, Phoenix Racing and Sam Hornish Jr. are question marks.

All in all, I believe that pretty much covers the 2010 Silly Season as it stands now, what do you think, any predictions, questions, concerns?