Predicting the Remainder of NASCAR’s Free Agency
“I’m in the business to win races.” Aren’t we all, Gene Haas? The co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing will be sponsoring Kurt Busch with his company, Haas Automation CNC, and has the largest chance he has ever had to get into victory lane, despite the fact he is sponsoring a fourth car on a team that, to a fault, may not be ready to expand.
The current roster at Stewart-Haas is teeming with talent, but it also features drivers with self-destructive tendencies. Coupled with the fact the trio of Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick are already media targets, the addition of the volatile Busch has the potential to create either a dominant NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, or figuratively crash and burn with outstanding results.
And although NASCAR’s “silly season” is far from over, the announcement of Kurt Busch’s departure has ensured that the remaining pieces of the driver-seat shuffle will be put into place before long. Another major piece will be announced Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway when Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing will announce the new driver of the No. 42 car. With that in mind, let us analyze the remaining available drivers and where they will go.
Richard Childress Racing-Although it has not been formally announced, the decision has all but been made to replace Kevin Harvick with team owner Richard Childress’s grandson, Austin Dillon. Considering RCR is not expanding, this is not the place Ryan Newman will land.
Furniture Row Racing — This, it appears, is now the best remaining seat left in NASCAR. Furniture Row is in position to make the chase as a single car team with Busch, but development may take a step back if the team opts to move from Chevrolet to Toyota. That being said, Ryan Newman has shown he can still be competitive, and would seem to fit perfectly with the moniker of a single car team, since he would no longer have to play second fiddle.
Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing — It seems that Kyle Larson will have the ability to display his incredibly raw driving ability at the Sprint Cup Series level sooner rather than later. Juan Pablo Montoya looks to be out of stock car, and may move onto Sports Car Racing, even on a team owned by Chip Ganassi himself. This is certainly a risky move, but Larson has a lot more upside, and thanks to Target staying aboard, the equipment cost may be less or equal compared to Montoya.
JTG/Daugherty Racing — Bobby Labonte’s consecutive races streak came to an end earlier this season in favor of A.J. Allmendinger, and now it seems the veteran’s time with JTG/Daugherty will be ending in favor of Allmendinger as well. Allmendinger has polished his craft as of late, and we’ll see if he can compete at a high level next year, or if he will disappoint like he did with the ill-fated Red Bull Racing.
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