Tony Stewart’s season-ending broken leg, the terminations of Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya and the surprising season by Kurt Busch has created a lot of roster scenarios for the 2014 season.
There are driver openings at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet and possible fourth entries at Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing are three of the premium rides open for next year. And if Busch moves to another team, Furniture Row Racing will need a driver.
Owners can be picky because there are plenty of candidates to fill them.
It appears Busch will have first pick. Sources said Busch has been offered a job at Stewart-Haas, which means the team is willing to expand to four cars. Newman could wind up with the best of what’s left over between Childress and Ganassi, while Mark Martin, A.J. Allmendinger and Montoya all are in play.
“The only thing I said already is I want to be in a winning car,” Montoya said. “Whatever else I do, don’t know what I’m going to do, but I want to make sure I’m in a winning car.”
Montoya, the 1999 CART IndyCar Series champion, said he could go back to open wheel racing if he can’t find a job with a competitive NASCAR team. Michael Andretti said he’s already offered him a job in the IndyCar Series.
A year ago Joey Logano spent months not knowing where he was going to work this season. He finally ended up in one of Roger Penske’s Fords.
“I am glad I am not in the middle of it right now,” he said. “It is nice to have a ride and be able to focus on your race car and not being worried about where you are going to drive and what is going to happen. You get distracted very easily with that stuff because a lot goes into it and you have to think through it. If you take that distraction away it helps a lot.
“It is hard for any driver to go through that. You never know what is going to happen. It makes it entertaining. I read all your stories about what the rumors are and it is pretty cool to listen to it but it is also fun to not be involved in it for a change. ”
Some jobs already have been filled. Brian Vickers is signed to drive the No. 55 Toyota at Michael Waltrip Racing and Kevin Harvick will move into Newman’s old ride at Stewart-Haas.
Stewart’s broken leg will keep him off the track for the rest of the season, and that created some immediate opportunities. Vickers now will drive Martin’s No. 55 for Waltrip after Martin agreed to fill in for Stewart.
For Martin, a strong finish could convince a car owner to hire him for a limited schedule next season.
Ford politicking NASCAR for changes
Drivers and race teams from the Ford family are asking NASCAR for some changes in the rule book to help them keep pace with Chevrolet and Toyota.
“That’s good news,” Carl Edwards said. “If it turns out that we need to do some politicking for things to be different than we will do everything we can.”
Edwards, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano and David Ragan each have a single victory for Ford this year. Chevrolet and Toyota drivers have combined to win the other 19 races.
“The only thing I really know about it, which is very little, is that the car is much different now in the race trim package that we have now with the spoiler and splitter and all of the way it ends up getting specked out,” Biffle said. “It is much different than the way this car began life and was submitted.”
Edwards said Ford isn’t asking for a big change.
“We just need to find that last little bit, that last little adjustment, so we can race with these guys,” he said.