On Sunday, while Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards were duking it out for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, many drivers and teams were already making plans for the 2012 season. Big changes are already being rumored around the garage for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 team, but several drivers in the Sprint Cup Series making plans have been difficult.
David Reutimann, David Ragan, and Brian Vickers are just three drivers who have no idea where or what they will be driving in 2012. All have had moderate success at NASCAR’s top level, but have really lacked consistency. Out of the three drivers listed, Vickers is the only driver to make the NASCAR Chase, but in 2009.
A harsh reality of missing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase is some of the sponsors whose contracts are up will go look elsewhere or scale back their program.
And this has what has happened to David Ragan. Even with winning the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July and being in the hunt for a spot in the Chase for 26 races, he still watched UPS move over to Carl Edwards’ hood. The best option for Ragan would be to drop down to the Nationwide Series and find a competitive team where he can try and rebuild a career. I still say he was brought up by Jack Roush too quickly. He is young and sponsors would definitely be attracted to his potential and marketability.
Many in the NASCAR world have already been wondering Vickers status since Red Bull Racing announced in the middle of the season that their doors would close after the Ford 400. Since then it has been awfully quiet inside the Vickers camp. While he has won two Sprint Cup races, his conduct as of lately, Martinsville and Phoenix come to mind, really didn’t help with the job search. His best option maybe dropping back down to the Nationwide Series. He replaced Reed Sorenson at Turner Motorsports towards the end of the season. If the team could find a sponsorship, since Dollar General is moving over to Joe Gibbs, that would be the best fit.
When it was announced just a few weeks ago that David Reuitmann would not return to Michael Waltrip Racing for the 2012 season, everyone was in shock. The news had come out of no where. Unlike Ragan and Vickers, there were no rumors floating around about the driver from Florida. He was even surprised by the news and claims he had been given no indication that the status of his position at MWR was in question. Now Reuitmann not finds himself in a tough spot. He has won two races but hasn’t finished higher than 16th in his four full time Sprint Cup Series seasons. Right now it’s hard to think of where Reuitmann would go. He could find an underfunded Sprint Cup Series team but where is there really to go.
All three drivers have something to offer a team but finding one that can give them the opportunity and more importantly finding a sponsor that is willing to commit will be no easy task.
Welcome to the NASCAR off-season. 2012 Speedweeks at Daytona will definitely look different.