It's been an amazingly quiet season so far in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2013. Usually by July we have a pretty good indication on what teams are trying to do and who is going where. Sometimes, even announcements are made prior to the annual Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
However, aside from rumors about Ryan Newman moving to Richard Childress Racing, the silly season rumor mill has been at a complete halt. The Newman rumor didn't start until earlier this week. There are very few big name drivers who are free agents, including Newman, Kurt Busch and Mark Martin.
Newman signed a one year contract at Stewart Haas Racing for the 2013 season and appears to be headed elsewhere in 2014. Richard Childress Racing and Furniture Row Racing have appeared to be options for Newman. Some might consider Newman having an outside shot at replacing Mark Martin in the #55 next season, but I think that is highly unlikely.
Since Martin announced he would be moving elsewhere for the 2014 season, Brian Vickers has been the prime candidate to replace Martin. In victory lane at Sonoma last Sunday team owner Michael Waltrip reiterated the fact that he is trying to run Vickers full time in the #55 car in 2014. Vickers is currently on a one year contract with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series and runs in the Cup Series part time in the #55 car when Mark Martin is not racing.
If Vickers is in the #55 next season and Newman is moving on, being replaced by Kevin Harvick at Stewart-Haas Racing, where does that leave Mark Martin for 2014? Martin said in a press conference early in the 2013 season that he already knew what his plans were going to be in 2014. He never mentioned retiring or returning back to a full-time schedule, which I believe Martin will not do.
That leaves the question, where in the world is Mark Martin going to race in 2014? Here's where the speculation comes in. When Martin came to Michael Waltrip Racing prior to the 2012 season he brought with him a wealth of knowledge that really helped the organization move into the right direction. Martin is present for every meeting the team has and is huge for the organization when they make decisions as to what goes into the race cars on Sunday.
There is no doubt Martin is going to be at a big team for 2014. Martin wouldn't take an uncompetitive ride. There is no room for him at his old ride, Hendrick Motorsports, and Stewart-Haas Racing seems to have their hands full with three teams, let alone a part time fourth team. Roush Fenway Racing doesn't seem to be adding a team nor does Richard Petty Motorsports. I doubt Richard Childress puts a part time deal together for Martin.
The most logical place Martin will go is Joe Gibbs Racing. Martin seems to have a good relationship over at MWR and Toyota and I doubt Toyota would let him get away with the valuable knowledge he brings to the table. Martin could run part time there and maybe the team could have someone like Elliott Sadler run the rest of the races for him.
Yet, they call it the silly season for a reason. It often becomes silly, so while it's all speculation we'll still have to wait and see until something is announced.
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