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NASCAR Silly Season 2011

Posted by chadmusselman on August 17, 2011

Every year around July and August people in NASCAR start talking about what drivers have expiring contracts, where they will race next season, and will they leave their current team early to go to the new team.  It seems the talk hasn’t been as prevalent in 2011, but there are some drivers signing with new teams and other drivers that have re-signed with their current teams.

Let’s take a look at some drivers that we know have signed new contracts, some that may sign new ones, and a few crew chiefs that have been let go in 2011.

J.J. Yeley & Front Row Motorsports
It was announced in mid-July that Yeley will drive for Front Row Motorsports for the remainder of the 2011 season. 

Kasey Kahne & Mark Martin
We already know that Kasey has signed to race for Rick Hendrick in 2012 and beyond, taking Mark Martin’s spot.  Mark Martin has already said that he’s not ready to retire after the season, so who will sign Martin for the 2012 season, and will be still be a full-time driver?

Brian Vickers & Red Bull
Sort of related to Kasey Kahne is Brian Vickers and the Red Bull sponsorship.  With Kahne leaving after this season, and Brian Vickers’ contract up at the end of the year, Red Bull will supposedly reduce their involvement in NASCAR and not sponsor the 83 and 4 cars next season.  Now the question is, where will Brian Vickers end up?

Clint Bowyer & RCR
Bowyer is working with Richard Childress Racing to re-sign with the team.  He seems confident that a deal will be done, and doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to finalize it as he’s focusing on making the chase this season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. & Hendrick Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has proven me and others wrong by turning in a very solid performance week in and week out.  At the beginning of the season Rick Hendrick said he wanted to sign Earnhardt past 2011 and the two sides are working on that now.  Earnhardt has his sister Kelley doing the negotiating for him.   The two sides said that they expect the talks to be finalized in early September.  When this deal is finished Hendrick will have three of the sport’s most popular drivers, and two of the most successful of all time locked up for long-term deals.  I would imagine other owners couldn’t help but be jealous. 

Carl Edwards & Roush Fenway Racing
In early August Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing agreed to a new multi-year deal that begins in 2012.  Edwards has been with Roush since the beginning and it looks like he’ll be staying there for quite a while longer.

Juan Montoya & Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
Montoya has agreed in principle to a contract with EGR for the 2012 season.

David Ragan
Ragan’s contract is up at the end of the 2011 season as well, but there has been no word of extension talks or him negotiating with other teams.  Undoubtedly he is in talks with someone, but nothing has been reported yet.

Joe Gibbs Racing
It’s no secret that Joe Gibbs Racing wants to add a fourth team and could do it in 2012.  They were pressing pretty hard to get Carl Edwards, but weren’t able to.  I don’t know if they’d be willing to sign Mark Martin since he’s up in age and already “retired” once.  David Ragan or Brian Vickers could be a possibility although JGR would probably like to get a higher profile driver that could contend for championships immediately.

Crew Chiefs Get The Boot
Among drivers that are changing rides, there have been several crew chiefs that have been relieved of their duties with their teams already this season.  Here are a few of them:

Todd Berrier has been let go from Richard Childress Racing and Jeff Burton’s 31 car.  Luke Lambert has taken his place.  This is the first stint as a Cup series crew chief for Lambert.  You can’t blame Richard Childress for making this decision.  Burton has been very disappointing this season, sitting 24th in points, and something had to change.

Brian Pattie has been released from the No. 42 car of Juan Montoya for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.  He has been replaced by Jim Pohlman.  After making the chase with Brian Pattie in 2009 Juan Montoya has leveled off as a driver missing the chase in 2010 and not in position to make it this season either.

Greg Erwin was let go in mid-July by Roush Fenway Racing.  He was the crew chief on the No. 16 car driven by Greg Biffle.  Erwin has been replaced by Matt Puccia.  Erwin has been Greg Biffle’s crew chief since 2007.  Puccia was Paul Menard’s crew chief in 2010 for the Nationwide series.

Mike Shiplett was out as crew chief for the No. 43 car of A.J. Allmendinger, owned by Richard Petty Motorsports, in late July.  Greg Erwin didn’t stay unemployed long after being let go by Roush Fenway Racing.  He replaced Shiplett as crew chief for Allmendinger.

So, there it is, the 2011 edition of the silly season; so far anyway.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  Have you heard other stories or more details about the contract talks going on?  Leave a comment and let everyone else know.

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One Response to “NASCAR Silly Season 2011”

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