This past week the NASCAR silly season still had a full head of steam. The major announcement this week was from Richard Childress Racing. RCR announced that Jeff Burton would not return as the driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet. Burton cited the fact that, “…. There was a lot of funding that wasn’t in place.” Later that same day, the team announced that Caterpillar would return for the 2014 season, though the number of races for the sponsor was not announced.
It is widely rumored, though not made official by anyone, that Ryan Newman could be a possible replacement for Burton. Newman has sponsorship agreements with several companies that he could bring to RCR to fill out the remainder of the season for the No. 31. When Newman is able to make an announcement it should put several rumors to rest and allow the rest of the dominoes to fall in this silly season.
JTG-Daugherty recently announced that AJ Allmendinger will replace Bobby Labonte next season in the No. 47 Bush Beans Toyota. Allmendinger was asked to drive the car at several races earlier in the season to help assess the teams problems. He performed very well in the car, and has performed well for several other teams this season. Labonte was to finish the season splitting time with Allmendinger, but the former series champion broke three ribs in a bicycling injury. Allmendinger is driving the No. 47 at Richmond.
Reed Sorensen has replaced Scott Speed in the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford. Sorensen will compete at Richmond and most of the remainder of the season with the exception of Dover and Phoenix. The team has said they are talking to several drivers to fill the seat for 2014.
Also announced Friday at Richmond, Cole Whitt will replace David Stremme as driver of the No. 30 Swan Racing Toyota. Stremme that he did not “know what the hell is going on” and that he thought he was going to Chicago. Stremme would not comment on whether he still had any ownership in the team.
In addition to Newman, Burton and Stremme we also still do not know the plans for Juan Pablo Montoya or Mark Martin. We do know that Montoya visited Furniture Row Racing in Denver on Tuesday. Neither entity has commented on the results of that visit.
It has truly been one of the silliest silly seasons in recent history. Each time an announcement is made, it sets off a series of events in the its wake. Once the Chase field is set, expect more announcements within the week.