By Amanda Ebersole – Silly season has just reached the leave of insanity.
If you have missed the news, here is what we know: Kurt Busch is the fourth driver to now round out the Stewart-Haas Racing stable. Joining teammates Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and previously announced Kevin Harvick, Busch’s addition to the team has many in the industry scratching their head. The questions are numerous: Why not keep Ryan Newman? How is Busch going to fit into the SHR dynamic? Who will be the first team member to have a meltdown and explode? While all those will be answered in due time, many other questions have developed about the state of other free agents for the 2014 season.
Perhaps the biggest shoe yet to drop is where Ryan Newman will head for 2014 and beyond. The rumor mill has him headed to Richard Childress Racing in a fourth entry for the team. That would have Newman joining Paul Menard, Jeff Burton and potentially Austin Dillon. Of the remaining seats that are left, RCR is the best fit for a driver of Newman’s pedigree
If Ryan Newman does indeed go to RCR, who does that leave for the No. 78 ride at Furniture Row Racing? As part of a technical alliance with Childress, why not put this as a shared ride between Austin Dillon and Mark Martin. Go with me on this idea – Dillon only has made 10 starts in the Cup series to date, Mark Martin is a driver that could really ease his transition into the elite series of racing. It would be a win/win for Furniture Row and RCR to get the experience of Mark Martin combined with the youth of Austin Dillon.
Now the next question is who gets the 42 ride over at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing? All signs are pointing to young gun Kyle Larson and that may be a huge risk for the team. The last driver to quickly rise through the NASCAR ranks was Joey Logano and we all see how long it has taken for him to finally get his footing. While I personally think it is rushing Larson, Chip Ganassi is a smart man and I am sure he counts on some rough days ahead.
What about the No. 47 JTG Daugherty car? For the team to make a statement, they need a driver that will invigorate their team. Of the free agents, there is only one driver that is glaringly obvious and that is AJ Allmendinger. Scoring the first top 10 of the season (Watkins Glen) for JTG Daugherty, Allmendinger’s road to redemption will be complete once he gets back in a car on a weekly basis. The latest news is that Allmendinger does indeed have an offer for this team but nothing has been signed as of yet.
With the Busch announcement and the pending Ganassi announcement the game of musical seats is winding down. If you aren’t in negotiations at this time, the song’s about over and there are many people fighting over the final few seats.