Monday, July 2, 2012

Silly Season Gets Serious

Kenseth looks like the cat that ate the canary and started
Silly Season in earnest
 NASCAR’s silly season got serious last week with Matt Kenseth’s announcement he is leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season.  Jack Roush said Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., will take the seat in the No. 17 Ford.

The worst kept secret in motorsports at the moment is that Kenseth is going to Joe Gibbs Racing.  With JGR extending the contract of Denny Hamlin over the weekend and Kyle Busch already signed to a long-term deal, that leaves Joey Logano as the odd man out.   Joe Gibbs says re-signing Logano, who has been associated with the team since he was 15, is now their top priority.  But that’s not gonna happen unless a new sponsor can be found.  And given today’s economic realities, there aren’t many companies with a spare $15-$20 million in its marketing budget looking to go racing.

That leaves Logano looking for a job and there aren’t many help wanted signs out.  Martin Truex, Jr., is up for renewal at Michael Waltrip Racing, but it seems likely he will stay there.    MWR says it would like to run a fourth team, but again, that requires sponsors and even if one was lined up, Brian Vickers is probably first in line for any opening on the team. Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray are both up for renewal, but more than likely they’ll return to their teams.  

Roger Penske Racing’s new Ford program might be a good fit.  Penske signed AJ Allmendinger to a one-year deal to replace Kurt Busch at the start of the season.  While Allmendinger hasn’t been a disaster and the team says it wants him back, he hasn’t exactly made himself a must re-hire either.  Logano might be a good fit there.  If nothing opens up on the Cup side, you’ve got to believe he could land one of JGR Nationwide rides where he’s had plenty of success, while picking up occasional Cup starts. 

Then there’s all sorts of talk abut the new Dodge program.  Rumors persist that IndyCar’s Michael Andretti will buy Penske’s NASCAR engine program and run a two-car Dodge team next year.  The rumors also say one of the drivers will come over from IndyCar.  That still leaves one opening and you would expect that someone would come from the NASCAR ranks. 

Joey Logano?  Why not.

1 comment:

  1. First of all, don't be too sure that JGR is a lock for Kennseth. He may very well end up at Penske, Yates/Roush engines, Ford cars, ie, no learning curve and instant credibility and top 10 for Penske.
    As far as Andretti starting a two car NASCAR team, could be but, I wouldn't count on it.
    Dodge has plenty of options and they have a really nice car for next year.