Yates Racing co-owner Max Jones says he plans to run at least two full-time cars next season, including the #98 Ford with driver Paul Menard and Menards sponsorship. Jones discounted reports that Menard might race elsewhere in 2010, saying that a deal is in place to retain both driver and sponsor.
Jones said talks are underway about continuing the team’s partnership with Hall Of Fame Racing for another year, but that it is uncertain whether Bobby Labonte will return in the #96 Ford next year.
Yates Racing could also absorb one of Roush Fenway Racing’s teams when NASCAR’s new four-car limit is implemented, and Roush Fenway President Geoff Smith revealed for the first time that Carl Edwards (Aflac), Greg Biffle (3M) and David Ragan (UPS) will definitely remain with the team next season. He said Matt Kenseth’s status depends on securing a new sponsor to replace the departing DeWalt, and that he would like to keep both Kenseth and Jamie McMurray in the Ford Motor Company camp, one way or another.
Roush Fenway recently told McMurray that he is free to talk to other organizations, but Smith stressed that McMurray and his #26 Ford could still return to the organization in 2010.
McMurray has reportedly been contacted by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing about replacing Martin Truex Jr. in the #1 Chevrolet after his contract expires at the end of this season. Edwards, Kenseth and Biffle all signed multi-year contract extensions with Roush Fenway last year. Crown Royal has two years remaining on its contract with the team, but could be moved to Kenseth's car if another backer is not found.
Sources tell Sirius Speedway that while many options are still under consideration, the most likely scenario is for McMurray to drive the EGR #1 Chevy next season with sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops, with Crown Royal joining a new, partial-season sponsor on the quarterpanels of Kenseth's #17 Ford.
Decisions Imminent At Red Bull: Red Bull Racing Vice President/General Manager Jay Frye left for Austria today for a series of meetings with team owner Dietrich Mateschitz that should finalize the team’s manufacturer and driver lineup for 2010 and beyond.
Brian Vickers' contract extension is believed to be a formality at this point, but a well-placed sources within the team told Sirius Speedway today that a decision about remaining in the Toyota camp or jumping to Chevrolet “could go ether way.” Toyota is offering more in terms of financial support, but their engines still lag behind Chevrolet in terms of both horsepower and torque. Both manufacturers have offers on the table, and Mateschitz and Frye will weight both options before making a decision later this week.
Mayfield Liquidates: Mayfield Motorsports is no more.
Jeremy Mayfield liquidated almost all of the team’s remaining inventory last week, selling his transporter, six Toyota racecars and an inventory of parts to fellow team-owner John Carter.
Carter fielded a former Mayfield Toyota for Terry Labonte at Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday, and Labonte will run at least four more times for the team at Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta and Charlotte. More races could be added, contingent on sponsorship.
Four former Mayfield Motorsports employees – including crewchief Tony Furr – are now working for Carter, and while Mayfield said last week that a new, major sponsorship deal was “80-percent done,” Carter said he is not interested in having Mayfield drive for him.
In his words, “that wasn't even discussed."