By admin | May 1, 2008
This may be the “Silliest” season ever
By Richard Allen
Silly season is the term used to describe the rumor fest that results in drivers moving from team to team.
The 2008 “Silly Season” has begun particularly early. Before this past weekend’s Aaron’s 499 in Talladega Tony Stewart made it known that he was open to the possibility of leaving Joe Gibbs Racing, the only team he has ever driven for since coming to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup division.
Stewart indicated he is intrigued by the idea of team ownership and would be willing to move to a team who would extend such an opportunity to him. Stewart’s contract with JGR does not expire until the end of the 2009 season.
However, there are some noteworthy drivers whose contracts expire at the end of the 2008 season. Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman will all either be renewing deals with their current teams or looking elsewhere. Whether it be Stewart or one of these other star drivers, whenever the first move is officially made it will set off a chain reaction of events that will create all sorts of maneuvering.
Not only could drivers be on the move but crew members, sponsors and even car manufacturers could be scrambling for places to land.
If indeed Stewart does decide to go elsewhere and is released from his contract a year early it would cause others to have to make decisions. Stewart’s long time crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, would have to decide if he wants to stay with a driver who he has won 32 races and two championships with or stay with the team that has provided him with the resources to win those races and championships.
Also, Stewart’s sponsor, Home Depot, would have to decide whether they want to continue their relationship with the driver who is so closely associated with their brand or remain with the team they have established a long term relationship with.
And more, Stewart has maintained his relationship with Chevrolet, through his sprint car team, even though JGR switched to Toyota during the past off season. Stewart may be looking to position himself with a team that will put him back behind the wheel of a Chevy on the Sprint Cup circuit.
With all of these decisions having to be made for just one driver to make a change it is easy to see where the name silly season comes from.
“Silly Season” is one of the things that makes following racing fun. NFL fans have the recently concluded draft to provide off field interest. Fans of Major League Baseball have the mid-season trade deadline.
This year, with Tony Stewart and so many other big names already starting to jockey for position this season should be one of the silliest of all time.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His Weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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