In year’s past, it seemed that the so-called “silly season” usually started about October and most teams had settled on the next year’s driver lineup by Thanksgiving. Not this year. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a new title sponsor for the Cup Series, the retirement of Carl Edwards, owners leasing charters and some giving them up, and a major announcement coming on Monday night which might include a road race at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star race. Whew!
Monday evening is the start of the annual Media Tour, sponsored by Charlotte Motor Speedway, and the news should be fast and furious, somewhat like the sport itself. Of special interest is the Stewart-Haas bevy of teams, which are changing from Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports engines and chassis to building their own chassis and using Roush Yates Ford Engines.
This week, SHR had a press event at Ford’s Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina, to take questions and show off their new livery for 2017. It was there that a SHR co-owner made the comment that he found out “swiftly” that making the move to Ford was the right thing to do. It will be interesting to know more details. It was revealed that the No. 14 Ford of Clint Bowyer was short on sponsorship for the entire series. They did say that Bowyer would enter all events and if no sponsorship is found, they would use Haas Automation on the car.
It was also interesting that NASCAR made an exception to their rules, something that happens often these days. With the retirement of Edwards, the No. 19 Toyota that qualified for the Clash exhibition race was driverless. Since all the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas had qualified, NASCAR allowed JGR to put rookie and Edwards’ replacement, Daniel Suarez in the car for the race. Suarez does not meet any of the criteria outlined for the race. It will be interesting to see the reaction if he wins the race.
Lots more to come this week. Please watch this space.