NASCAR: 5 Silly Season Moves That Will Have The Biggest Payoff In 2014
NASCAR's 5 Best Silly Season Moves
NASCAR's 2014 season is on the horizon, and we have some familiar faces and some unfamiliar places. NASCAR's Silly Season always produces winners and losers, so in this list, I'm going to highlight what I believe were the five best moves in NASCAR's version of musical chairs.
In 2013, we saw Matt Kenseth join Joe Gibbs Racing after spending his whole Cup career with Roush-Fenway Racing, and we saw a new Kenseth on the track. He had the best year of his career stats wise and finished a close second to six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the standings.
This year, the driver lineup for Stewart-Haas Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing, Swan Racing, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Phoenix Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing, BK Racing, Leavine Family Racing and Phil Parsons Racing has changed in some way, shape or form -- that's 13 of the 22 full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup teams making alterations to their driver lineup.
In 2014, a lot of big names have moved around and it was hard to decide which ones I wanted to include in my top five. A couple honorable mentions that barely missed the list were Jeff Burton, who's moving over to Michael Waltrip Racing, and A.J. Allmendinger, who is joining forces with JTG-Daugherty Racing. I left Sprint Cup rookies out, by the way, so don't expect to see the names Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson in this top five.
Enjoy the slideshow and feel free to leave a comment below!
Nick DeGroot is a Contributing Writer for Rant Sports NASCAR. Connect With Him on Twitter @ndegroot89
5. Bobby Labonte Joins Phoenix Racing Part-Time
He may be going from a full-time ride to a part-time one, but I think this switch will pay major dividends for 2000 Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte. After three years of struggle with JTG-Daugherty Racing, he's now going to get the chance behind the wheel of a Hendrick backed and Hendrick powered ride. I think Labonte will have some great runs, and who knows, maybe he'll even snag career win No. 22.
4. Ryan Newman Moves Over To Richard Childress Racing
Ryan Newman was terminated by Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of 2013, but the 2008 Daytona 500 champion has found a new home over at RCR. He will be the senior driver at the team and a change of scenery may just be what Ryan needs to rekindle the magic he had during the early part of his career.
3. Martin Truex Jr Becomes New Driver For Furniture Row Racing
Martin Truex Jr. lost his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing after losing big time sponsor, NAPA, following the SpinGate scandal. Furniture Row Racing became the first single car team to make the Chase last year, and I really like the idea of Martin going to an organization where he's the sole focus. All resources will be poured into his efforts and it seems like a good fit for a driver like MTJ.
2. Kevin Harvick Leaves Richard Childress Racing After 13 Years
Kevin Harvick is one of best drivers on the NASCAR circuit and is certainly championship caliber. RCR is the only team he's ever known, but they were never able to seal the deal and win the title together. Don't be surprised to see something out of Kevin that we've never seen before in 2014 -- perhaps something similar to what happened with Matt Kenseth after he left the only team he's ever driven for, Roush-Fenway. Like RFR, maybe RCR was holding Harvick back and this might just be what he needs to finally break through that glass ceiling and win himself a Sprint Cup championship.
1. Kurt Busch Gets Another Shot With A Multi-Car Team
Kurt Busch.. what a roller coaster he's been on since 2011. After being fired from Penske Racing for his inappropriate behavior (his intense anger), he found a home with the small but capable, Phoenix Racing outfit. However, 2012 was a rough year and he was involved in a few more altercations. It even got to the point where NASCAR parked him for a race after his incensed comments towards a reporter.
In 2013, he moved to another single car operation and he propelled this once 20th place team to a Chase berth and a top 10 points finish. His remarkable performance and much calmer demeanor caught the eye of Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas. He offered Kurt a ride with the team and is so confident in Kurt's abilities, that he's opted to sponsor the car himself.
Kurt's gotten his Achilles Heel under control and is still one of the best racers out there, so the competition better beware in 2014, because Busch is ready and eager to regain his crown as NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.