Silly season is the NASCAR industry term for time in which teams make personnel changes prior to the upcoming season.
In the past, the “silly season” began after the final checkered flag of the season waved; now it seems that as soon as a driver enters the end of their final year of a contract or has a few bad races that rumors begin to swirl about their status for the next season.
As we approach the end of August, the silly season is in full effect in NASCAR so let’s take a look at who the key free agents are and where they are likely to land for 2014.
Kevin Harvick- Ok so Harvick’s services aren’t on the market as it was announced in July that he would be joining Stewart-Hass Racing to replace Ryan Newman in the 39 which will become the 4 and have sponsorship from Budweiser. However, Harvick was the domino that started silly season by displacing Newman.
Ryan Newman- Speaking of Newman, when it was announced that he wouldn’t return to Stewart-Hass his Sprint Cup options looked grim. Now however with some of the other options that are opening with the silly season in full effect Newman could be the top veteran free agent. If Chip Ganassi wants an experienced driver to fill the seat of the 42 for a couple of years while Kyle Larson continues to develop than Newman would be the top choice. If however, the sponsors want a younger driver than Newman will have to look elsewhere. The best fit seem to be the 78 Furniture Row Racing team, with reports that Kurt Busch has an offer to join Stewart-Hass in a fourth car the 78 would be open and is by far the best single car team in Sprint Cup.
Juan Pablo Montoya- The 78 could also be a fit for Montoya if Busch chooses to leave, however it seems more likely that Montoya’s future lies outside of NASCAR. Michael Andretti has talked to Montoya about joining his Andretti Autosports Indy Car team if they could find sponsorship. This would be the best fit for Montoya, sure he’d love to stay in NASCAR and prove he can be successful in Sprint Cup, however unless he can land the 78 ride there are no quality teams for Juan. It is better to return to Indy Car in quality equipment than run 30th in Sprint Cup.
Kurt Busch- For the elder Busch it doesn’t seem like it’s a matter of finding a ride rather it’s choosing which offer to accept. Busch says he has multiple offers though he’s been vague about who they are from. The top option seems to be a fourth car for Stewart-Hass which would come with full season support from Hass CNC. He could also choose to stay with the 78 team that he’s had success with this year, though we don’t know if that’s one of his “multiple options.” Kurt is a rebel, much like Tony Stewart, and Gene Hass seems to be the driving force to create a team for Kurt, thus expect him to be in a Stewart-Hass car in 2014.
Richard Childress Racing Car 29- With Kevin Harvick moving to the Stewart-Hass that leaves the 29 car open and though nothing is official it’s been apparent that Richard Childress has been grooming his grandson’s Austin and Ty to take over the family business so to speak. The next step in that progression is for Austin to move to Sprint Cup and with the announcement that Ty will move to the Nationwide series in the 3 for 2014 it seems all but certain that Austin will take over the 29 in 2014 and return to RCR’s original number the 3 that Dale Earnhardt Sr made famous. If they choose to not promote Austin to the Cup level then Ryan Newman or Kurt Busch would be the best candidates to pilot the 29.