The last 24 hours have been a vital part of the 2009 silly season events. Three big moves have been made, so let’s get straight to it.
First, Bobby Labonte is out of the #96 Ask.com Ford. Sort of. Labonte will race the Yates/Hall of Fame Racing entry in 5 more races this season(Richmond, Dover, Fontana, Charlotte, and Martinsville), in all of which he has sponsorship from either Ask.com or DLP. For the remaining 7 races(Atlanta, New Hampshire, Kansas, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead) the team was previously unsponsored. However, with the announcement that Roush development driver Erik Darnell will drive the car in those races, the #96 has picked up sponsorship from Northern Tools and Academy Sports & Outdoors for 5 of those races. Darnell will still be able to maintain his Cup rookie status by competing in no more than 7 events. Rumor has it that Hall of Fame Racing wants to keep Labonte for 2010, and may wind up parting ways with Yates.
At last. It’s official. Let NASCAR.com rejoice. Brad Keselowski is a Penske Racing driver as of next year. Keselowski will drive the #12 Penske Dodge full-time on the Cup side in 2010, and will join Justin Allgaier as a full-time teammate in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next year as well. No word on sponsors or car numbers in that series. Keselowski will replace David Stremme in the #12 Cup ride, and there is no word on Stremme’s plans for next year as of yet.
Finally, Kevin Harvick will be staying in the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevy, at least for the 2010 season. Harvick had been rumored to be going to a third Stewart-Haas car, as well as several other places. But despite rumors that Harvick was not happy with the team, and thus would not honor his contract with the team that goes through 2010, and the team’s poor performance, Harvick is going nowhere. At least, not yet.