There comes a time in every NASCAR season where the media begins speculating about which race teams certain drivers will be driving for the next year, who their sponsors will be, or even if anything will be changing at all. Usually, as is the case again this year, the speculation revolves around drivers, teams, and sponsors who are in the final year of their contract.
This is called silly season. It begins at various points during the year, typically around the beginning of the so-called “summer stretch” that we are entering into now. So, naturally, the 2009 silly season has begun.
The greatest speculation is around 2-time Nationwide Series champion Martin Truex Jr. It appears that Truex, who is in the final year of his contract with DEI-Ganassi Racing, may be heading over to the #55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. Waltrip looks to be stepping down as a driver, and focusing on running his team. Truex could bring current sponsor Bass Pro Shops with him. Whatever happens, it does appear Napa will still be involved in some way as a sponsor.
Brian Vickers is another driver whose contract expires at the end of the year. However, the Team Red Bull driver looks to be re-signing with his current team.
A pair of new teams may be seen in the Sprint Cup series next year. Both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rusty Wallace have talked about possibly moving their Nationwide operations up into the Cup Series with drivers Brad Keselowski and Steven Wallace respectively. Though both may move their teams up, nothing official has been announced…yet.
If Wallace does indeed move up next season, he may have some company in battling for the Rookie of the Year. Their are rumors swirling that Roger Penske may start up a fourth team for Nationwide rookie Justin Allgaier as soon as the latter part of this year. The car number would most likely be 22. No sponsors have been mentioned, but due to a sponsorship conflict, Verizon would not be allowed on the car.
Finally, the only piece of official news in this article, Scott Riggs and Tommy Baldwin Racing have agreed to part ways effective immediately. Mike Skinner will take over the #36 Toyota for all but 7 of the remaining 25 races. Patrick Carpentier, who took over Riggs’ old ride at what was Gillett-Evernham, will drive in 5 events. Road course ace Brian Simo will drive at Watkins Glen and Infineon.
That’s all for now. As I get more silly season rumors, I will pass them on to you.