DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) – Every summer, especially in August for some reason, we experience the NASCAR offseason. What’s the weird part of that statement? Well, we are still in the midst of the current NASCAR season.
Confusing? Yes. Is it ok to be confused? Yes.
Driver, team, and sponsor movement happens seemingly every summer, and this season is no different. For a sport that experiences only a three month offseason, the mad scramble to make moves is fast and furious. The fact that drivers, teams, and sponsors announce their 2014 season plans, while still competing in the 2013 season, is silly. It’s silly enough that it deserves its own nickname: “silly season.” Which drivers are moving and who are they taking with them? Let’s rant…
- Kevin Harvick. He’s arguably the top dog in free agency and is a proven winner. Harvick is ending his 13 year end in the #29 RCR chevy once the season closes. Where is he going? Well his plans are already known, and have been for a long while now. Harvick is moving to Tony Stewart’s organization, and will race a newly rebranded #4 car. Budweiser is following him as well. His future: Bright. The SHR organization knows how to win, his transition will be a piece of cake.
- Kurt Busch. ‘The outlaw” changes teams more then I change my socks, and trust me I change my socks every day. Kurt is on a one year deal to race the Furniture Row Chevy, and so far he is rocking it. One car teams are not supposed to be battling for a Chase spot, which just shows to you how much of a wheel man the former Cup champion is. There are a lot of rumors about where Kurt will land next season, but I think people are thinking too hard. His future: Solid. Look folks the pieces of the puzzle all fit to well together here. His nickname is the outlaw, he drives for a single car team, where the odds are stacked against him, and yet he still performs. What better example of an outlaw is there? No reason to leave, especially if he makes the chase. I think he stays.
- Brian Vickers. Talk about coming through in the clutch. Brian Vickers, part time driver of the 55 MWR Toyota this season with Mark Martin, pretty much won his way into this 2014 ride by winning at New Hampshire a few weeks ago. Talk about performing in the clutch. This kid is 29, is a former Nationwide Series champ, and is back in full health after some previous issues in the past. Yes he underperformed a few years ago for Hendrick, but some time away and starting over have done the young man some good. Michael Waltrip has already announced Vickers will take over the ride full time next season, and I see big things coming. His future: Exciting. Vickers will win races in this ride next year. His teammates, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer, are already top echelon drivers, and I see Vickers joining them. Everything is there for him to shine.
- Ryan Newman. This year’s Brickyard 400 winner will be shown the door from boss Tony Stewart at season’s end. It feels like Newman has been around forever, but he’s only 35. Still young and plenty capable in the world of NASCAR. Newman has a sponsor that wants to follow him in Quicken Loans, and that will help him land a ride for sure. His future: Secure. Newman will land somewhere, and I see him staying in the Chevy camp, look for him to land the soon to be vacant #42 Earnhardt Ganassi ride
- Juan Pablo Montoya. This is an odd one to me. It must have been sponsor forced. After 7 seasons racing for buddy and old Indy car boss Chip Ganassi, Montoya is about to be a free agent. Montoya has won in every form of racing he’s tried, but success in NASCAR has been elusive for the Colombian. The 37 year old is better known for making people mad and causing incidents then he is competing for wins. I expected better and so did Ganassi. His future: Shaky. Rides are being snapped up, and with no big sponsor on board to follow Montoya for his next adventure, he might find himself taking a step down from Ganassi-unless RCR creates a 4th car and puts Montoya in it, he could be forced out of the Cup series. NASCAR would not be happy, they like having the international flare around.
Races till the Chase: 4
Next Race: Pure Michigan 400
Green-white checkered: Expect a wide open race, with drivers losing patience and trying to force their way to the front. With Bristol coming up the following week, drivers must take risks and win. Not only are playoff spots up for grabs, but there are jobs up for grabs too. Who will pad their resume for 2014? None of the drivers listed above, I see Jeff Gordon bouncing back and winning this weekend.
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