NASCAR

Silly Season '07: Return of the Virginians

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Ryan McGee

 
   
 

Remember the good old days? When stock cars were stock cars, Mark Martin didn't have a rap song, and Silly Season didn't begin until October? Well, brothers and sisters, those days are gone. And each season, it seems like NASCAR's annual 200 mile-per-hour merry-go-round of roster moves shifts further away from Thanksgiving and inches closer and closer to Valentines Day. Which means that the racing rumor mill is moving faster than a Taco Bell Chalupa through a college freshman. How is a race fan supposed to keep track of it all? Easy. Just read ahead as we proudly present the latest edition of our FOXSports.com on MSN NASCAR Silly Season Extravaganza Moving and Grooving Chart.

Robert Yates Racing

  • The Ride: No. 28/88 Ford, Mars
  • Who: Ricky Rudd

  • Ricky Rudd will come out of retirement and return to Robert Yates Racing in 2007. Rudd drove for RYR from 2000-2002, winning three races and four poles before a very ugly divorce was forced on him so Yates could make room for Elliott Sadler. Rudd, now 50, had seemed pretty comfortable horsing around with his teenage son in retirement, but was obviously excited to get back behind the wheel for one race as an injury sub for Tony Stewart at Dover in June.
  • The Ride: No. 38 M&M's Ford
  • Who: David Gilliland

  • On July 31, Gilliland's Busch Series team announced that it was closing its doors because, "We put our heart, soul and resources into David Gilliland. Personally and financially, we do not feel it is best to move forward at this time." Meanwhile, a Yates press conference at Indianapolis to make a driver announcement was postponed. Gilliland drove the No. 90 Yates Busch Series car at Indianapolis Raceway Park while Leicht attempted to qualify for the Brickyard. You do the math. Gilliland tested the No. 38 car at Kentucky on August 15 and began his RYR Cup career at Michigan later that week.

    Morgan-McClure Motorsports

  • The Ride: No. 4 Chevrolet
  • Who: Ward Burton

  • South Boston, Va. native Ward Burton will be back in '07, behind the wheel of the Morgan-McClure Motorsports No. 4 Chevy, though the car admittedly needs more sponsorship cash to make it competitive. The 2002 Daytona 500 champ hasn't raced full-time since losing his job at Haas CNC Racing the end of the 2004 season.

    Haas CNC Racing

  • The Ride: No. 70 Chevrolet
  • Who: Johnny Sauter

  • According to Larry McReynolds, "Bootie is back in the Busch Series because owner Gene Haas wanted to realign that team before the year ended. Johnny Sauter will move to Nextel Cup next year, which will put Bootie back in Cup, too. Haas put Harold Holly back with Jeff Green. They had a tremendous amount of success in the Busch Series, winning a championship together. The goal was to get both drivers and crew chiefs some seat time before 2007 started."

    Red Bull Racing

  • The Ride: No. 83 Red Bull Toyota
  • Who: Brian Vickers

  • Vickers shocked the world ¿ not to mention Rick Hendrick ¿ when he announced he would be leaving the ride that he was handed by the late Ricky Hendrick for the start-up Toyota squad. Along with Michael Waltrip Racing, Red Bull is starting from scratch. For some drivers, that is a scary thought. For Vickers, it is an exciting one.

  • The Ride: No. 84 Red Bull Toyota
  • Who: A.J. Allmendinger
    On October 24, A.J. Allmendinger became the latest open-wheel defector when the Champ Car driver signed a deal to drive for Team Red Bull in NASCAR. The 25 year old signed a multiyear deal to drive the No. 84 Camry, and completes a lineup that already includes 23-year-old Brian Vickers, who announced in June he was joining the team.

    Roush Racing

  • The Ride: No. 6 AAA Ford
  • Who: David Ragan

  • At Talladega, Roush team president Geoff Smith said Jack Roush would make a choice for the 6 car within the next two weeks from among four rookies, and he chose Ragan, who currently shares the No. 6 Truck with Mark Martin and also pilots the No. 50. He started his first career Nextel Cup race at Dover in September and is set to make four more starts in the Nextel Cup Series in 2006. He will make his first start in the No. 6 in the 2007 Daytona 500.

    Michael Waltrip Racing

  • The Ride: No. 00 Burger King/Domino's Pizza Toyota
  • Who: David Reutimann

  • The name that continued to be connected to this high-caloric ride was Waltrip's fellow Owensboro, Ky. native Jeremy Mayfield, but at Watkins Glen, Waltrip said that he and Mayfield decided to go their separate ways. Reutimann will join Waltrip and Dale Jarrett as the third car for this team in 2007.
  • The Ride: No. 55 NAPA Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing
  • Who: Michael Waltrip

  • It has long been known that Mikey was using BDR as a one-year stopover on the way to owning his own Toyota-backed race team. NAPA seems to be willing to follow the two-time Daytona 500 winner to the ends of the earth... or at least all the way to Japan.
  • The Ride: No. 44 UPS Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing
  • Who: Dale Jarrett
  • Jarrett got this year's Silly Season started when he announced at Darlington in May that he would be leaving Robert Yates Racing after 12 seasons to join fellow forty-something Waltrip. The 1999 Cup champ will provide MWR with the luxury of having a past champion's provisional to fall back on at the beginning of the season. At first, UPS wavered on whether or not to stay with Yates, but eventually decided to jump ship with D.J. Waltrip is trying to land No. 44, which is currently controlled by Petty Enterprises and on loan to Hendrick Motorsports for Terry Labonte.

    Ginn Racing

  • The Ride: No. 01 Chevrolet
  • Who: Mark Martin, Regan Smith

  • Martin will share the ride in the No. 01 Chevrolet with rookie Regan Smith, a 23-year-old regular in the Busch Series. Joe Nemechek, currently racing in the No. 01, will remain with Ginn, but will move to a third team (the No. 13 entry), while Sterling Marlin will stay in the team's No. 14 Chevy.

    Wood Brothers Racing

  • The Ride: No. 21 Little Debbie's/Ore-Ida Extra Crispy French Fries and Delimex Delicious Mexican Cuisine Ford
  • Who: Ken Schrader/Jon Wood

  • Schrader will return for a 24th season of Cup racing in a part-time ride. The 24-year son of team owner Eddie Wood will become the first family member to drive a Cup race since granddad Glen made his 62nd and final start at Roanoke, Virginia in 1964.

    Evernham Motorsports

  • The Ride: No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge
  • Who: Elliott Sadler

  • Jeremy Mayfield has been terminated as the driver of the No. 19 car, which made The Chase in each of the last two seasons. Sadler has taken over this ride, but he won't bring his candy-covered chocolates with him.

    Hendrick Motorsports

  • The Ride: No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevy
  • Who: Casey Mears

  • Mears was already looking for a ride outside of Chip Ganassi Racing next season and appeared headed to a Toyota team... then Brian Vickers announced he was leaving Hendrick. Within minutes, Mears' running buddy Jimmie Johnson and mentor Rick Hendrick were on the phone with a job offer. He took it.

    Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

  • The Ride: No. 42 Texaco-Havoline Dodge
  • Who: Juan Montoya

  • Just when we thought this season couldn't get any sillier, Ganassi trotted his former CART and Indy 500 champ into the Chicagoland media center. The Colombian-born Formula One racer still needs to work out some kinks in his contract with McLaren, but expect the good people at Daimler-Chrysler — Ganassi runs Dodges, McLaren runs Mercedes — to smooth out any bumps in the road.

    Send your questions & comments to Ryan

    Bill Davis Racing

  • The Ride: No. 36 Toyota
  • Who: Jeremy Mayfield

  • Davis will field two cars as part of Toyota's big launch, the first time he has enjoyed any sort of manufacturer support since angering Dodge by starting talks with Toyota several seasons ago. Jeremy Mayfield, who was released by Evernham Motorsports, was named to drive the car at Bristol on August 25.

    Dale Earnhardt Incorporated

  • The Ride: No. 15 Menard's Chevy
  • Who: Paul Menard

  • After dipping his toe in the Cup waters this season, Menard will run a full schedule in '07 and run for Rookie of the Year as a teammate to the Juniors — Dale Earnhardt and Martin Truex.


    Ryan McGee is the managing editor at NASCAR Images. He can be reached at his e-mail address: rmcgee@foxsports.com.


    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

    Tagged: Bill Elliott, Ricky Rudd, Jimmie Johnson, Bill Lester, Dave Blaney, Stephen Leicht

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