The whole Silly Season forecast is starting to clear up, at least if you believe the rumors and can make accurate assumptions based on things implied in announcements. At least a few things are certain, such as Brian Vickers being promoted to full-time driver of the No. 55 at Michael Waltrip Racing.
But there have been a few other Silly Season-related leaks in the last week, as well as announcements made that hint at other logical assumptions. So here’s my take, based on what is official, what is rumored, and what has been hinted at.
Word has it that Juan Montoya is in talks with Andretti Autosport to make a return to IndyCar racing. The rumor mill is circulating that Kyle Larson is the heir apparent to the No. 42 Sprint Cup seat that will no longer belong to Montoya at season’s end. While I don’t quite agree with the possible call to move Larson up to Cup this soon, I’m guessing this one’s true. While I think Larson’s an extremely talented racer, I don’t think he’s ready for this move just yet. And a move up the ladder too early can often result in disaster, career wise. Just ask Casey Atwood. But that’s another discussion for another time. Right now, we’re just trying to figure out who is going to be where when it comes to Sprint Cup racing in 2014, and ready or not, I’m seeing Larson in the No. 42. Chip Ganassi has made several staffing decisions when it comes to his NASCAR teams that have left me wondering if he really takes NASCAR team ownership seriously, but who am I to judge? Anyway, back to the subject at hand.
I think Austin Dillon is another one of those drivers who’ll be making the move from Nationwide to full-time Sprint Cup racing next year. Rumors aside, sponsorship announcements from both Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing are indirectly announcing this move. Well, the RCR announcement indirectly implied the move, while the Roush announcement just came out and said it. Childress sent out an announcement earlier this week revealing the sponsor for the No. 3 Nationwide entry next year for Ty Dillon — that’s Ty, not Austin. So, apparently, younger brother Ty Dillon is moving from the Truck Series to Nationwide to drive the No. 3 next year — the No. 3 currently driven by Austin Dillon.
Meanwhile, a sponsorship announcement from Roush Fenway confirmed Dillon’s move to Cup, even though he doesn’t and never has driven for that organization. RFR recently announced that Advocare would be coming aboard to sponsor its No. 6 Nationwide car for Bayne next year, since the driver Advocare currently sponsors, Austin Dillon, was making the move to Sprint Cup next year.
That must mean that RCR really is moving Austin Dillon up to Cup. But will he be in the No. 29 vacated by Harvick that is expected to be renumbered to No. 3 if Austin Dillon does climb into it? Or will Dillon go in a fourth RCR entry to be numbered 3? My guess is the No. 29 will be renumbered for Dillon. The expansion to a fourth team didn’t work out so well the last time Childress tried it.
Then there’s Kurt Busch. Stewart-Haas Racing may have claimed that it couldn’t keep Ryan Newman around because of a lack of sponsorship. But that didn’t keep SHR from, reportedly, extending a formal offer to Busch. I see Busch heading over to Stewart-Haas next year.
That leaves Newman. Unless Richard Childress Racing expands to a fourth team, there’s no room at that inn for Newman. And I don’t see that happening. I see Newman in the No. 78, vacated by Busch, next year.
And that brings us to Mark Martin. I don’t see Martin returning to full-time Sprint Cup racing, and to be honest, I kind of saw him climbing out of the driver’s seat for good at the end of this year. But now, I’m not so sure. We’re still left with the No. 51 car. I’m not even sure who owns that car anymore, since James Finch announced a couple or so months ago that it was sold. A new owner hasn’t, officially, claimed ownership, at least not publicly. Rumors have Turner Scott Motorsports owner Harry Scott Jr. buying Finch’s old team and Nationwide Series veteran and Turner Scott driver Justin Allgaier assuming drving duties. While Finch didn’t reveal the identity of the team owner, he did say that said owner already had a sponsor and driver lined up. That’s about the time the Scott/Allgaier rumor began circulating.
Maybe Allgaier, while still racing in the Nationwide Series, could join this No. 51, possibly owned by one of his current Nationwde bosses, and share the ride with Martin. Just a thought.
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