I’ll say it right now, my favorite time of the racing season is the dubiously titled “silly season.” For some reason I have always been fascinated by the inner workings of the NASCAR teams. Drivers, crew, everyone changing cars, teams, sponsors, everything. This 2014 silly season seems to be one of the craziest in recent memory.
Maybe it’s the advancement of the internet, the 24 hour news cycle, maybe just the massive growth of NASCAR, but in recent years silly season has become quite…well, dull. Gone are the days of not knowing where someone was going at the end of the season. In years gone by the Daytona 500 also served as an introduction to new drivers on new teams, with new sponsors, and sometimes even new numbers.
You may remember that Kasey Kahne announced his move to Hendrick Motorsports(HMS) two years before the move. Dale Jr announced his move to HMS mid-season as well (as I recall that press conference was broadcast live on SPEEDtv, I already miss that station.) This season has had its share of early announcements as well. Kevin Harvick’s move to Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) was one of NASCAR’s worst kept secrets, almost as much of a non-secret as Budweiser moving with him. Austin Dillon’s unofficially announced move to the #3 car in Sprint Cup has also come as real no surprise.
That is where the silly season ends its dull nature this year. It was fairly accepted garage wide that Kurt Busch would be in the #78 car for one season. He would either move to a bigger team for 2014, or be out of the sport, that was pretty much the consensus. Him ending up at SHR was in a word, shocking. No one really saw that coming, especially in the light of the reason Ryan Newman was given for his release from SHR.
Juan Pablo Montoya’s departure from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (EGR) was somewhat of a surprise, but the writing has kind of been on the wall in hindsight. Montoya will probably end up back in open wheel racing, where he seemingly is a better fit with his driving style.
So let’s took a look at the current roster of drivers looking for a job: A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, Dave Blaney, David Gilliland, Travis Kvapil, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin (part time schedule), Ryan Newman, David Ragan, and David Reutimann. As it stands right now, Newman and Mark Martin are the keys to the rest of the list. Rumors and speculation are always rampant this time of year. Just last week many rumors had Newman all but a lock for a Richard Childress Racing team. Now, with Dillon making the move up, where would Newman fit?
For the first time in a long time, I have no clue where most of these guys will end up. That is what makes silly season so fun. The next few weeks and months are going to be a blast for those of us who love this stuff. Not to mention, if you think this year is crazy, look at the drivers who’s contracts end in 2014: Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears, and Jaime McMurray. It going to be a fun couple of years.