The silly season has ramped up with drivers losing rides while others gain them. The latest big news has Brian Vickers earning a permanent seat with Michael Waltrip Racing in the #55 Toyota and Aaron’s signing on as the sponsor for two years (source: Fox Sports). In 2013, that car has multiple drivers in it, including Mark Martin who retired from full-time racing but loves the part-time gig. The other news was that Juan Pablo Montoya will not be driving for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (EGR) in the #42 Chevrolet with Target sponsorship. Rumor has it the young Kyle Larson might step into Montoya’s old seat in 2014. Maybe, but there’s a better situation for all concerned … a perfect match you might say.
Rumors also abound that with Vickers taking over full-time with the #55, Mark Martin will be without a ride next year, part-time or otherwise. Chip Ganassi needs to improve his program at EGR and what better way to improve the organization as a whole than add the wealth of experience that a Mark Martin gives you. Larson is very talented but he’s young, is only in his first season of Nationwide and has never driven a Cup car before. By having the veteran experience of Martin helping the team and Larson continue to develop, it’s a win, win, win for everyone.
Ryan Newman’s name has been thrown around for every available ride in 2014. However, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) was said to be angling hard for Newman. And yes, the rumors also have Kurt Busch heading to RCR but that’s a story for another day. However, do those drivers want to move to an EGR team that hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire … except if you count Montoya’s fiery crash during last year’s marathon at Daytona (source: Yahoo! Sports).
Ganassi has to be careful because even though he has a developmental contract with Larson, that doesn’t mean someone can’t come in and swoop up the 21 year old if they have enough money. Having Larson get accustomed to Sprint Cup racing in a part-time capacity, while possibly being mentored by Martin, may be just the right combination for EGR to move their program forward.
Larson appears to be the next NASCAR superstar-in-waiting. Combining youth and experience in the #42 will give Ganassi the best of both worlds. Larson needs seat time but isn’t qualified to run full-time yet in Cup while Martin would still like to run part-time. This is a perfect match.