Monday, August 18, 2008

Silly Season Still Going Strong

Ryan Newman is finally confirmed as Tony Stewart's 2009 teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing, but there is still a bit of silliness left in NASCAR Silly Season 2008.

A spokesman for Joey Logano confirmed this weekend that the 18-year old driver will likely make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut next month at Richmond International Raceway. Sirius Speedway reported two weeks ago that Logano will make his Cup debut at Richmond in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; the first of a planned 6-7 race schedule in preparation for a full Rookie of the Year bid in 2009. Spokesman Bill Janitz said the number of races to be run this season is still to be determined, and that no decision has been made on whether he will replace Tony Stewart in JGR’s #20 Toyota next season.

A source close to the team told Sirius Speedway Saturday that Logano will run an orange-and-white #02 Toyota at Richmond with sponsorship from the Home Depot. In addition, that source said the home improvement giant will back the Connecticut youngster in his freshman season of Cup competition in 2009. Team President J.D. Gibbs said the team has not yet finalized plans for Logano, saying, “He'll run some Cup races this year, whether or not he's running the full thing next year or not.”

At least one more vacant seat appears set to be filled this week. Richard Childress would not confirm widespread reports that Casey Mears will be the driver of his new fourth Chevrolet next year, but smiled as he said, “I'll be glad to talk to you about the fourth car next week at Bristol."

Penske Racing spokesman Walter Czarnecki confirmed that David Stremme is one of several drivers being considered to replace Ryan Newman in the No. 12 Dodge next season, adding that "there's a lot of balls still in the air right now.” Czarnecki said the team hopes to have a driver signed within the next two weeks.

Yates Racing is making a concerted bid to sign driver Paul Menard away from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., with the assistance of Roush Fenway Racing. Roush Fenway President Geoff Smith confirmed yesterday that the Roush/Yates alliance is pursuing Menard, saying, “We believe we're the leading contender outside of the incumbent." DEI officials say they are negotiating to re-sign Menard, and feel confident he will return to the team.

Hamlin Blasts JGR Engines: Denny Hamlin lashed out at his Joe Gibbs Racing team yesterday, after an engine failure with six laps remaining dropped him to a 39th place finish. Hamlin now stands 12th in the Sprint Cup standings -- just 26 points away from dropping out of the Chase -- and blamed the JGR engine shop for his predicament.

“We're so far behind," he said. "When we come to the racetrack with a piece that’s got more power, we just hope it lasts. And it just hasn’t yet.”

Hamlin also questioned the team’s decision to run a new engine combination at Michigan Sunday, saying, “We just make stupid choices. We came here with a new engine package, (and) we're a bubble driver. We can't keep our cars together. At this point, we don’t even deserve to be in the Chase. I know the engine guys are doing all they can to keep up, (but) the Hendrick guys seem to be the class of the field right now as far as engines.”

Hamlin has now finished 23rd or worse in eight of his last 14 races.

Sullivan Bids For BDR: 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan says he has made a bid to purchase Bill Davis Racing, but that the two sides are still apart on price. Davis confirmed to Sirius NASCAR Radio yesterday that discussions have taken place with Sullivan, but that talks are not as far along as Sullivan implied. He said Sullivan is one of several people who have approached him about purchasing the team, and that he will “do what is best for Bill and Gail Davis.”

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