THE POSSIBLE EFFECT
Where Carl Edwards finally ends up will
trigger a whole series of driver, sponsor
and team movements for the 2012
NASCAR Sprint Cup season. But while
Edwards is the biggest name in this
year’s silly season, there are a lot of other
heavy hitters in play.
As noted earlier, the most urgent
issue for Roush Fenway Racing, along
with Edwards, is sponsorship. With
Crown Royal gone for sure and Aflac and
UPS both up for renewal, the only deal
firmed up right now is that Greg Biffle
will continue to drive the No. 16 Ford
with 3M sponsorship. RFR has long been
one of the best teams at signing sponsors
and the fact that three of its four cars
don’t yet have deals for next year shows
just how difficult and fragile the
prevailing economic conditions remain.
At Richard Childress Racing, Clint
Bowyer will become a free agent at
season’s end and the team needs a
sponsor for his No. 33 Chevrolet. Bowyer
and team owner Richard Childress are
kindred spirits, and Bowyer uses RCR’s
shops to house his dirt-late model
equipment. Bowyer has also made it clear
his first choice is to stay at RCR. The
team is rumored to be working on
bringing a NASCAR Nationwide Series
Stewart-Haas Racing, a team that has mostly flown under the
radar. A persistent rumor is that Danica
Patrick will run the full NASCAR
Nationwide Series schedule next year
with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports
team and do as many as seven Sprint Cup
races in a third SHR Chevy.
Lesley Ann Miller/LAT
Team co-owner Tony Stewart has
made no bones about the fact that he
eventually wants to have four cars in his
stable. He already has the infrastructure
in place to add a third car for the team.
Then again, SHR needs to firm up
funding for Ryan Newman’s No. 39
Chevrolet Impala. Its deal with the U.S.
Army is always year to year and the team
has additional inventory available
Red Bull itself has made inquiries in the garage about
staying on strictly in a sponsorship capacity, which would be
better than leaving the sport entirely. There’s no shortage of
teams that would love to take a few million dollars from Red
Bull, but virtually every top-flight NASCAR team already has an
existing relationship with a beverage company, which makes it
harder to get a deal done with Dietrich Mateschitz’s company.
Sources in the garage said that Red Bull is very interested in
sponsoring Juan Pablo Montoya, though Earnhardt Ganassi
Racing with Felix Sabates appears set to return with a very
similar sponsorship lineup in 2012 as it has this year.
Last but not least, Kasey Kahne’s
move to Hendrick Motorsports next year
will free up venerable Mark Martin to go
somewhere else. Martin has indicated
he’d like to help out his old pal Frye at
what is currently known as Red Bull
Racing, although he has no interest in
being a team owner. If Frye does
somehow pull off a deal to keep that
team afloat with new ownership, Martin
could end up there, splitting time with
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
up-and-comer Cole Whitt.
One interesting puzzle piece in all of the silly season talk is
But there’s no denying, the biggest shoe
yet to drop is Carl Edwards’ destination.
Danica Patrick is expected to drive a whole
(BELOW LEFT) Daytona 500 winner Trevor
Bayne would be a talented, sponsor-friendly and cheap alternative should
Edwards leave Roush Fenway Racing.
PROMOTION, DEMOTION AND DEVOTION
The silly season transcends NASCAR’s various series
As always, a handful of drivers will move
luck in his short stint in the Sprint Cup Series. He
up or down the ladder in NASCAR’s top
three divisions next year. There are young
talents who will graduate to the Sprint Cup level
and others who retreat to the Nationwide Series –
which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as former-Cup-
racer-turned-Nationwide-title contender Elliott
Sadler will tell you. However, who actually stays
and who goes will depend more on sponsor dollars
than anything else.
deserves another shot.
• Justin Allgaier Jettisoned from Penske because
the team couldn’t find a sponsor for him, Little
Gator has done very well so far at Turner
Motorsports and is still very much in the running
for the Nationwide championship this year.
sponsor up and is campaigning heavily
for UPS, too.
If Joe Gibbs Racing does sign Edwards,
chances are he would move to the No. 20
Home Depot car, with Joey Logano going
into a fourth JGR car, possibly one that
has multiple primary sponsors.
The fates of Red Bull Racing as a team
and Red Bull as a sponsor remain very
much up in the air. RBR General
Manager Jay Frye is trying to put together
a group of investors to buy the outfit
outright from the Austrian energy-drink
maker. Frye not only needs owners to
pump money into the team, he also
needs drivers – Kasey Kahne is going to
Hendrick Motorsports next year and
Brian Vickers’ contract is up at the end of
this season. For Frye to pull off all this is
a daunting task, at best. The odds, and
the prevailing economic climate for
sponsors, do not favor him at all.
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hands down the most-
improved driver in the Nationwide Series this year,
• Sam Hornish Jr. After a year in which he will
only have run a handful of races, Hornish is doing
the smart thing. The former Sprint Cup racer will
campaign a Penske Racing Dodge Challenger and
run for the 2012 Nationwide Series championship.
Stenhouse (RIGHT) already has a race victory and
top 10s in 14 of the first 19 races of the year.
That’s a 180-degree change from 2010, when
Stenhouse wrecked so often that Jack Roush
parked him briefly. And Stenhouse looked mighty
good subbing for teammate Trevor Bayne in the
• Mark Martin NASCAR’s senior citizen says he
doesn’t want to race full-time in 2012. Think how
much his knowledge, experience and temperament
could help a Nationwide team next year.
Wood Brothers Cup car at Charlotte.
• Trevor Bayne The Daytona 500 winner is a
marketing executive’s dream: young, handsome,
God-fearing and having a maturity level unheard of
for a 20-year-old. And, oh yeah, he can drive pretty
well, too. Like teammate Stenhouse, Bayne has the
sponsor rap and the “thanking the boys back home
in the shop” thing nailed.
• Aric Almirola One of the most star-crossed
drivers of recent memory, Almirola had a lot of bad