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Lack of sponsorship dims excitement of silly season
But in today's current economic climate, drivers and teams don't have many options. Desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say, and for some, these are desperate times indeed.
Typically, this is one of the busiest times of the year for drivers and teams looking to make moves for next season. Commonly known as silly season, it is the time of year when there is a flurry of activity, with numerous drivers, teams and sponsors announcing new plans and new deals for next year.
Silly season typically cranks up in April, with rumors of potential moves and deals spreading through the garage like wildfire. August and September are usually when those deals are wrapped up and formally announced.
Not this year. Not in these tough economic times, when new sponsors are scarce, many are leaving or cutting back and drivers are in danger of losing their rides with few options for finding new ones.
There are no big-name drivers available in the free-agent market this year, and that is probably a good thing. Instead, teams are looking ahead to next year when drivers like Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick potentially could be available.
As a result, none of the top teams have openings for next year, which is a good thing because sponsors are much more difficult to find right now than drivers. Hendrick Motorsports is looking for sponsors for Mark Martin for next year, and Roush needs additional sponsorship for Kenseth. So do Stewart-Haas Racing and Ryan Newman. Those drivers and teams have a better-than-average shot of finding sponsorship. Hendrick and Roush have had little trouble finding sponsors in recent years, and Stewart-Haas shouldn't have much of a problem with the success they have had this season.
Many other teams may not be so lucky, however, possibly leaving several veteran drivers scrambling for rides.
Jeff Owens is a writer for NASCAR Scene, which is published weekly, 46 weeks per year. Visit www.scenedaily.com for more information.