NASCAR
Bob Pockrass, NASCAR 31d

Big-name drivers without sure jobs and teams in flux as Silly Season draws on

NASCAR

NASCAR drivers seem to have made as many moves off the track recently as they do on the track as the Silly Season continues with drivers playing musical chairs for spots in 2018.

Among the unsigned are Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch, although Busch still has a team that apparently wants him to stay but doesn't have the funding yet to make the deal happen.

Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing still await a decision from Monster Energy on whether it will sponsor the team next year. That also could coincide with a decision on whether Monster picks up its 2019-2020 option to sponsor the NASCAR Cup Series.

If Monster drops the team deal, SHR and Busch would have a decision to make. Would Busch have to (and agree to) take a lesser salary if there is no sponsor and Haas has to foot the bill? Would SHR drop to three teams (unlikely considering the organization's Ford deal)? Could Busch land somewhere else?

Busch wants to win right away; it's one of the reasons that his chats with Leavine Family Racing -- which signed Kasey Kahne earlier this week -- didn't go beyond a phone call.

Kenseth is in a tougher spot, and unless some sponsorship comes up to pay the veteran enough to keep him in a car, it appears he could be done at least for the time being.

Danica Patrick is in the same boat. Like Kenseth, any sponsor looking at Patrick probably thinks she has only a few years left racing: So is the investment worth it if there is no potential for long-term value? Then again, Patrick resonates beyond the NASCAR fan base and could be a spokesperson even if she didn't race, so her potential sponsor pool is greater.

There are rides open if Kenseth or Patrick could land sponsorship. Richard Childress Racing has the No. 27 car it needs to fill and Richard Petty Motorsports has the No. 43 car it needs to fill. RPM would like to have Darrell Wallace Jr., but if another driver came with sponsorship, it would have to seriously consider that option.

SHR technically still has not announced a replacement for Patrick, but all signs point toward Aric Almirola -- currently in the 43 -- getting that ride. He didn't seem worried at all last week and said he couldn't talk about his 2018 plans.

With Kahne settled at Leavine Family Racing and Ty Dillon set at Germain Racing, the top single-car organizations appear set.

Several of the teams outside the top 25 in points are unsettled for next year, which is not unusual at this time. Front Row Motorsports seems happy with David Ragan and Landon Cassill, but it also will have a third charter next year. Does the team use it or sell it?

There are still plenty of decisions left as far as charters for next season.

Furniture Row's No. 77 not returning means its charter has been sold. Expect that one to go to JTG Daugherty Racing.

JTG Daugherty Racing needed a charter for Chris Buescher because the one that it is leasing this year goes back to Roush Fenway Racing. Organizations can lease out a charter once over a five-year period but then must use it or sell it.

That means Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports (which leased a charter to Go FAS Racing) get charters back that they likely will need to sell.

There are two organizations that need charters: The new team of Penske Racing No. 12 (Ryan Blaney) and Wood Brothers Racing (Paul Menard) need charters.

The current Wood Brothers Racing charter is leased from Go FAS Racing, which gets that charter back and can use it in place of the one it was leasing from RPM.

The TriStar Motorpsorts charter goes back to Front Row, which could always lease one of its current charters to TriStar, just not the one that TriStar was using this year.

And that doesn't account for any additional charters from the small teams that might lease or sell them because they need funding.

Oh, and just for the record. We know everyone has these thoughts. Is Carl Edwards coming back?

Edwards said earlier this week he has no new plans.

^ Back to Top ^