Story by Ben Sanders
NASCAR has completed its summer stretch and news has been in abundance in recent weeks for all divisions. Let’s recap all the major story lines and address the speculation before the Playoffs begin for each division.
NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series:
Silly season is in full-force with a high-speed game of musical chairs taking place as the price of the sport keeps rising and popularity dwindling. Over the past month or so, several drivers have changed teams, become free agents and sponsors have realigned affiliations.
Over this past week Danica Patrick confirmed she is out at Stewart-Haas Racing at seasons end and it is speculated former UCF student Aric Almirola will move to this vacant seat following sponsor Smithfield. This means Darrell Wallace Jr. is the firm favorite to fill Almirola’s seat in Richard Petty’s famed no.43, which now doesn’t have a sponsor.Embed from Getty Images
Former champions Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch are free agents along with Kasey Kahne. Kenseth and Kahne will be replaced by young phenoms Erik Jones and William Byron. Busch is expected to re-sign with current team SHR once Monster Energy makes a decision on its future. Meanwhile, Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto have all re-signed with their current organizations.
In addition, Ryan Blaney has moved from the Wood Brothers to a new third Penske Racing car, with Paul Menard moving from Richard Childress Racing to the Wood Brothers. Both cars will be sponsored by Menards, but will lack a charter to guarantee a starting position.Embed from Getty Images
Richard Petty Motorsports, at this time, do not have a race shop for next season.Embed from Getty Images
To cut costs, NASCAR is requiring teams to make engines last two races from 2018 onward.
Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer all failed to qualify for the Playoffs and are no longer championship eligible.Embed from Getty Images
Subway dropped its sponsorship of Mexican driver Daniel Suarez due to him playing along with a skit with NASCAR on NBC with Dunkin’ Donuts.
NASCAR Xfinity Series:
NASCAR tested composite body cars at Richmond Raceway last Friday and was an overwhelming success. The series will switch from steel to composite over the next few seasons to help save teams money.
Jeremy Clements pulled off the underdog victory of the decade by piloting a nine-year-old car to Gatorade Victory Lane at Road America after making contact with leader Matt Tifft with one lap remaining. The win-and-in system put Clements in the NASCAR Playoffs. Stay tuned to see if David can once again slay Goliath.Embed from Getty Images
Modified driver Ryan Preece dominated at Iowa Speedway for his first race win, making the most of a two-race stint with powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series:
Darrell Wallace Jr. returned to the winner’s circle in a one-off ride at Michigan International Speedway after substituting for Almirola in the MENCS while he was recuperating with a broken back.Embed from Getty Images
2012 Monster Energy Cup Champion Brad Keselowski announced he would shutter his team at seasons end to concentrate on manufacturing and launching a Cup team in the future. This move takes Ford out of the NCWTS, but drivers Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe will possibly land in the NXS next season. This is the second winning organization to shut down after Red Horse Racing in June.
Featured image courtesy of NASCAR