Rumors are flying in the garage as NASCAR's Silly Season heats up. Who's really on the move? Lee Spencer has the inside scoop.
Off the market
David Ragan: Will remain driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford for Roush Fenway Racing in 2010.Martin Truex: Signed multi-year deal to drive No. 56 Napa Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing beginning in 2010.David Reutimann: Michael Waltrip Racing has picked up his option for 2010.
Contract status: In final year of contract with Andretti Green Racing of the IndyCar Series Career highlights: One win, 16 top fives, 44 top 10s and three poles in five years (75 starts) in the IndyCar Series; no NASCAR experience. Lee Spencer's take: We won't see Danica in NASCAR this year. I expect her to sign up with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the IRL for 2010 and if she goes there, Chip has said he wants her to devote her time strictly to open wheel racing so she can prove what she can do over there before she moves over to stock cars. Ganassi says there's no sense of urgency for Danica to jump over to NASCAR but if that's something she wants to do down the road, he'll find her the best opportunity for her to transition in a few years.
Contract status: Free agent after 2009 season Career highlights: One win, 12 top fives, 44 top 10s and three poles in seven years (236 races) of Cup competition. Lee Spencer's take: Jack Daniel's has until Sept. 1 to inform Richard Childress Racing of its status for 2010. Because Mears is such a likeable driver, he's been given plenty of opportunities between Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing to thrive. This could be the end of the Cup road for Mears if he doesn't step up. Some people in the NASCAR marketing circle say that Jack Daniel's will not be coming back full-time next year, so do they become an associate sponsor on the other RCR cars or go elsewhere? That decision will determine if there will be a fourth team at RCR next year. Certainly expanding to four teams has depleted the organization as a whole because Mears' team was a testing team last year. Childress needs to decide if he want
Contract status: Free agent after 2009 season Career highlights: 2003 Raybestos Rookie of the Year (Nationwide); three top 10s in five years (three full seasons, 95 starts) in Cup competition. Lee Spencer's take: Much like Labonte, David Stremme just can't come to terms with driving the COT. He missed the first year with the new car and is now playing catch-up to the rest of the field. The problem is exacerbated by the testing ban put in place for this season. He simply has no way to get to the other guys on track. As his agent told me, "He's got the next 16 races to audition for the No. 12 Penske ride, and if he can't get the job done he'll be somewhere else next year." I'm not sure that a Cup ride is for Stremme in 2010.
Contract status: Free agent after 2009 season Career highlights: 1991 Nationwide Series champion, 2000 Sprint Cup Series champion; 21 wins, 114 top fives, 198 top 10s and 26 poles in 18 years (566 starts). Lee Spencer's take: Bobby Labonte has had a hard time adapting to the new race car. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks, but Labonte's just not comfortable with the Car of Tomorrow and what it takes to get results with it. It's going to be up to Bobby to either change or work on what's next as far as what his career holds.
Contract status: Signed through 2010 season Career highlights: 2000 (Nationwide) and 2001 (Cup) Raybestos Rookie of the year, two-time Nationwide Series champion, winner of 2007 Daytona 500; 11 wins, 58 top fives, 123 top 10s and five poles in nine years (306 wins), career best finish of fourth (twice) in Cup standings. Lee Spencer's take: Kevin Harvick's future is in Richard Childress' hands since his contract doesn't expire until next year. Harvick seems optimistic that Richard Childress Racing is trying to turn things around. If the two can come to terms in regards to performance, they can at least get through the final year of their contract together with sponsor Shell. One thing is for certain, the biggest losers in this deal will likely be the crew if they're caught in the crossfire.
Contract status: Free to look elsewhere for 2010 (Roush Fenway Racing has to cut one team at end of year and have announced McMurray is odd man out) Career highlights: 2003 Raybestos Rookie of the Year (Cup); two wins, 29 top fives, 78 top 10s and three poles in eight years (242 starts), career best finish of 11th in Cup standings. Lee Spencer's take: McMurray never found his comfort zone at Roush Fenway Racing, even though Jack Roush attempted to find Mac a perfect fit -- most recently with former Ganassi crew chief Donnie Wingo. It wasn't long after McMurray parted ways with Ganassi that he realized the grass wasn't any greener at RFR. Now he'll have a second chance at making things right.
Contract status: Has verbal agreement for extension with Red Bull Racing but is free agent at the end of the season Career highlights: Youngest national series champion in NASCAR history ('03 Nationwide Series champ); one win, 17 top fives, 43 top 10s and 10 poles in seven years (192 starts), career best finish of 15th (twice) in Cup standings. Lee Spencer's take: After talking to Brian Vickers' crew chief, Ryan Pemberton, there's nobody on the market who is better than Vickers in his opinion and he'd like to keep him right where he is for 2010.
Contract status: Looking for full-time Cup deal in 2010 Career highlights: Three wins, career best finish of third in two full seasons of Nationwide competition; one win, three top 10s in nine Sprint Cup starts. Lee Spencer's take: Special K could be at Red Bull next year -- but only if Jay Frye's organization switches to Chevrolet and has room on the roster. Stewart-Haas Racing is also an option.