[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignright” width=”208″][/media-credit]It’s finally Silly Season time and moves are happening fast. The season started prematurely with A.J. Allmendinger’s failed drug test and Matt Kenseth’s shocking announcement that he was leaving Roush Fenway, but this is the time of year when Silly Season starts in earnest and started it has.
Joe Gibbs Racing announced what we’ve known for ages, Matt Kenseth will drive the No. 20 Home Depot/Family Dollar Toyota next season. And Penske Racing announced that Joey Logano will drive Allmendinger’s former ride, the No.22 Shell Ford in 2013, but it doesn’t stop there.
This weekend we learned that Tony Stewart has lost one of his primary sponsorships. Office Depot is leaving. This is problematic because Stewart-Haas racing lost the U.S. Army as a sponsor on its No. 39 car that Ryan Newman drives. That leaves only the Go Daddy car, the No. 10 Chevrolet that Danica Patrick will drive in 2013, as the only fully sponsored car in the SHR stable. Efforts have been made to obtain sponsorship for the No. 39 car apparently without success. That puts Ryan Newman on the market because he is a free agent next year. But there’s more.
Elliott Sadler, the current points leader in the Nationwide Series, announced he was leaving Richard Childress Racing’s Nationwide team at the end of the season. The reasons are somewhat foggy and contradictory. Sadler says RCR offered him nothing. Richard Childress has expressed disbelief that Sadler was leaving after having his “best season.” We may have to wait awhile to get the full story on this one. Rumor has Sadler going to Joe Gibbs Racing and taking his sponsor, One Main, with him. Whether that means Gibbs has his sponsor for a fourth Sprint Cup team is not determined yet.
That’s the beauty of the Silly Season. It’s drivers and teams looking for that extra edge. Kenseth looking for some new scenery (he’s been with Roush since day one), Logano looking for an organization that has the ability to win and one that will respect his talents, and Sadler, at age 37, looking for a chance to get to the big show again. It puts Ryan Newman, who strangely finds himself without sponsorship, possibly on the market. It leaves the very successful RCR Nationwide program without a lead driver. And it gives something for fans to debate.