A friend of mine at work told me in almost disbelief that the one NASCAR pool that he is in has already handed out their driver lists for the pool. "How can they do that already?" he asks, "There are teams that are still listing drivers for their cars for cryin' out loud!"
Yep I agree. This year's version of "Silly Season" has turned into a Darwinian free-for-all of survival of the fittest which can be dubbed "Survival Season".
I honestly can't remember an off-season with so much driver and team turmoil. I know, its the economy - but still there has been a lot of change.
Let's see if I can do this off of the top of my head, please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong BTW;
- Mark Martin is now back full-time in the 5 car
- Casey Mears is now in the RCR 07 car
- Clinton Bowyer is in the new RCR 33 car with no owner points
- Aric Almirola is in the unsponsored 8 car committed to drive the full year with EGR (Earnhardt Ganassi Racing)
- Regan Smith is in the 78 car which is running a limited Sched this year
- Joe Nemechek is racing his own stuff this year and is going to try and make all the races
- AJ Allmendinger was in the 19 car and then out and is now in the 44 car, which used to be the 10 car, for a handful of races until a big sponsor is found
- Elliott Sadler was out of the 19 and then back in it
- Scott Speed is now in the 82 Red Bull car which used to be the 84 car
- Tony Stewart is out of the 20 car and in his own 14 car
- Joey Logano is now in the 20 car
- Ryan Newman is out of the 12 and is now in the Stewart owned 39 car
- David Stremme is now in the 12
- Bobby Labonte is out of the 43 car and now in the 96 car
- Reed Sorenson is now in the 43 car (I think)
- David Gilliland looks like he is out of the 38 car now because the owner points will probably be moved to the 96 car - Must remember, if I have my own sponsor I can go anywhere
- Speaking of which Paul Menard brings his own sponsor to Yates Racing and leaves the 15 car behind and is now in the 98 car using the 28's owner points
- Travis Kvapil is reportedly in the 28 car with now owner points but at this point I'm so confused he could be in the 88 car for all I know
- Tommy Baldwin started his own team and now has Scott Riggs as his driver and I don't know the car number either - 30-something I think
- David Reutimann is out of the 44 car and is now in the 00 car for MWR
- Michael McDowell is out of the 00 car and is now ... hmm ... I don't really know
- Oh ya, Marcos Ambrose is in the 47(?) car driving for the Wood Brothers - who's in the 21?
- Now Chad McCumbee had a deal with PE before the merger with GEM to form RPM and now I don't even know if he has a ride - maybe he can a job as a Dale Earnhardt Jr look-a-like in a movie or something if there is no ride for him
- Bill Elliott, Boris Said, Sterling Marlin, Patrick Carpentier, Jacques Villeneuve, Max Papis, Ward Burton, Carl Long, Kenny Schrader, Stanton Barrett, David Gilland, and anyone else (?) still don't have rides yet
It's a dog-eat-dog world out there right now for NASCAR drivers and I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if there were even more driver changes over the next few weeks leading up to the Daytona 500. In fact, I wouldn't even be too surprised if this continued into the racing season too because sponsors are going to want more value for their millions of dollars and if a guy can't run up front he'll be gone faster than you can say, "Want fries with that?"