June 30, 2012
By Donalde z Smith
Are you kidding me? Is the Silly Season here already?
In NASCAR, the Silly Season is what we call that time of the year when drivers and crew members are hired and fired.
It embellishes the movement of drivers from team to team; often while the season is still going strong. Usually the Silly Season would begin around mid-summer and last until early autumn. However, the NASCAR Sprint Cup season is not even halfway over.
Therefore, NASCAR Race Mom was kind of shocked when the buzz began to appear on the internet that Joey Logano might be hunting for a ride in 2013. The very young Logano is in the fourth and final contract year of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career.
To hear about how his position with Joe Gibbs Racing might be in jeopardy, this early in the season was unusual. Even after his win, from pole at the Pocono Raceway on June 10, 2012, Logano’s future remained uncertain.
"I haven't been informed on where I stand for next year yet, so it's all up in the air," he said. "Obviously winning a race means a lot and it helps that out a ton. For sure right now my future is not set with anybody. To get this win means a lot. It's at a perfect time." Logano admitted.
Logano suffered a terrible 2011 season with crew chief Greg Zipadelli, and finished twenty-fourth in the final standings. Last year also marked his career-low six top-10 finishes. Both Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman have been speculated as candidates for Logano’s ride next year.
Not to be out-done, the Silly Season madness continues to prematurely march forward with an even bigger disclosure. Quite frankly, Logano’s quandary was understandable. Despite the fact that he was originally heralded as the next big NASCAR superstar by all accounts, Logano has struggled to deliver at a top on-track performance level.
Unbelievable, last Tuesday, Roush Fenway Racing announced that the NASCAR Sprint Cup point’s leader, Matt Kenseth, would be leaving the team! Kenseth joined Roush Fenway as a Nationwide Series driver in 1998.
He has been one of NASCAR's most consistent drivers, with twenty-two victories and 220 top-ten finishes in 452 starts. He won this year's Daytona 500. He has missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup only once in eight seasons since its 2004 inception.
You are letting him go now? Did I mention that he is currently the NASCAR Sprint Cup point’s leader! Okay, NASCAR Race Mom just did not get it.
Today however, Matt Kenseth stated that he has a Cup ride for 2013. Further, it appears that I was wrong about Roush Fenway Racing releasing Kenseth. Kenseth reported that he informed team owner Jack Roush last Tuesday of his impending move.
“I guess there's a certain amount of things that probably led us to this point," Kenseth told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview Wednesday. "There's not one thing and no negative things. There's really not been any fight or disagreement or any of that. Fortunately, throughout my 15 years, I've never been in this spot. It's been kind of different to be in a contract year and to be in June (without a new deal).
Kenseth added, "Honestly, I had this other opportunity come up, and it really interested me. I've had other people call throughout my career with other opportunities, and I always stayed (at Roush). This one was interesting. I felt at this point in my career and with the timing and the way everything was working, everything was kind of pointing me in that direction. I felt it was something I needed to do."
Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway marks the beginning of the Race for the Chase – the season’s second-most important 10 weeks that ends with the 12-driver Chase field determined Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway.
However, going into just the seventeenth race of the season, the Silly Season has arrived early and in full force. One cannot help but wonder how this will affect the two drivers involved.
It would appear that the Silly Season rhetoric has youngster Joey Logano revving up his on-track accomplishments. In his four Cup seasons, Logano has never made the Chase. At least, the twenty-two year-old is in contention this year. He is currently fifteenth in the Cup Standings with one win.
That win at Pocono is only his second, but very strategically timed. Further, his Nationwide statistics are phenomenal. Logano has been nearly unstoppable this season. He leads the series with five wins in eleven starts, including the last two in succession, and has won four of the last five Nationwide races he’s entered.
How all this silliness will affect our Sprint Cup Point’s leader also remains to be seen. Hopefully, the controversy will not adversely affect the quality of his equipment or the morale of his crew. A Matt Kenseth's win this weekend would help erase my concerns.
As NASCAR resumes its "tripleheader" format with the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series joining the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway, I will be watching both Logano and Kenseth. While I don’t know much, I do know that it is much too early for such Silly Season drama.
*** Yet another surprising announcement: Joey Logano, a three-time winner in the Nationwide Series at Kentucky Speedway, was not in the "Feed The Children 300" on Friday night. According to his team, Sponsorship issues were cited as the reason.
If you would like to learn more about Donalde z Smith, please check out her web site at NASCAR Race Mom.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.