By: Erik Proctor
It is that crazy time of the year for NASCAR teams known as silly season, when many changes occur.
The 2011 NASCAR season has finally come to an end. This means crew chief changes. Drew Blickensderfer is leaving Roush Fenway Racing. He has left the number six team and will work for Richard Childress Racing. He will become Jeff Burton’s crew chief in 2012. Kenny Francis will go with Kasey Kahne to Hendrick Motorsports. Francis will be the crew chief for the number five car.
The silly season also includes driver changing. Bowyer is leaving Richard Childress Racing organization and will join Michael Waltrip Racing. Kahne is leaving Red Bull Racing and go to Hendrick Motorspots to take the number five car away from Mark Martin. Mark Martin and Michael will drive the number 55 car. Martin will drive the 545 car for 25 races and Waltrip will race 7 races.
Changes will occur for some teams, as well. One team it occurs for was Childress; his decision is to only have three full-time cup teams. Another team affected is the number six Roush Fenway team. This team has shut its doors at the end of the season. Red Bull Racing has also decided to shut its doors to three racing teams. The drivers left without a ride for next year include David Ragen, David Reutimann, J.J Yearly, David Gilland, Scott Speed and Brian Vickers. One race shop that is adding a team to the 2012 season is Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica Patrick will be driving the number 10 Chevrolet next year, part time.
Sponsorships are very important to NASCAR teams because of the funding required to maintain a competitive car. UPS will be heading to Carl Edwards as an associate sponsor. Edwards will also add Fastenal as a sponsor. AMP is leaving Dale Earnhardt Jr’s car is being replaced by Diet Mountain Dew. Kahne will be sponsored by Farmer’s insurance and Quaker State Oil. Lagono will add Dollar General Mills and Newman will add Quicken Loans as a sponsor.
As you can see, many changes occur at the end of the NASCAR season. It my be a crew chief, driver, team or sponsor. Teams are always looking for that competitive edge and it may come from many different areas. Sometimes these changes produce the expected results and other times these changes fall short of expectations.