The NASCAR free agent market is crazy!! Actually, no, it's all hype
I hate to be a buzzkill, but I’m going to say it right now: Don’t expect much, if anything, of note to happen in free agency this offseason.
Let’s go case by case.
-- For starters, Carl Edwards is NOT leaving Roush for Gibbs. And you can quote me on that. I understand that Gibbs would love that (I mean, who out there is hotter as a driver than Edwards right now; any team would love to have him.).
But that doesn’t mean Edwards will take the offers coming his way. Think about it. Right now, he is the king of the Ford heap. He is a great spokesman for the Ford brand and all the sponsors that he is so quick to recite. They all love him. And because they all love him, he knows they’ll do whatever is necessary to keep him, and he knows it.
Carl Edwards is smart, and he knows that by not signing right away and letting the media speculate that he is interested in leaving, that he will get yet another swiss bank account full of money thrown his way. The longer he holds out, the richer he gets. Ford is too smart to let their star get away, as it is likely he will win a title, or many titles, for them in the future. The guy is a talent they can not afford to lose. When he says “we’re working on the contract,” he means “I’m holding out for more money”.
So mark my words, he’ll get that money, and spend the rest of his career in a Ford.
-- While we’re on the topic of drives not leaving their current rides, let’s talk about Clint Bowyer. Maybe there was some truth to the Red Bull rumor, but with that out of the mix now, where could he go that’s a better ride than Childress?
The answer is nowhere, which is why he is staying put. I don’t see Bowyer as a champion driver, and he’s probably running about as good as he ever will in these RCR cars, so going to a weaker team now would only make the end of his career come sooner. I don’t see Bowyer going anywhere else, and if he does it’s a mistake on his part, as Childress is the best fit for him and the place he can prosper the most.
-- Others: Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman are both free agents, but there are no signs they will be leaving their respective teams (Earnhardt-Ganassi and Stewart-Haas), so they’ll be staying put.
-- Finally, don’t expect a fourth Gibbs car … that’s been hyped for years and never happened. We would have seen more movement in that direction if that was going to happen (i.e. … running a fourth car in select races in 2011, to see how it went). The only guy that would make sense to add a fourth team for is Edwards, and as I’ve established, he’s not going to be driving anything but a Ford for Jack Roush.
While we’re talking about Gibbs, let me clarify that Joey Logano will NOT be let go by the team. No way, no how. Gibbs found this kid at 15 years old, he’s dedicated to him, and Logano is still VERY young. His future is still bright, he is not a bust as some people believe, and trust me he will be a championship contender in the next handful of years. Gibbs is smart enough to know this and is not about to dump his potential golden goose.
So what does it all add up to?: A lot of talk about big moves in free agency, and little to no actual action in that area. You heard it here first.
Penalties were handed out to the Gibbs team for “oil pan gate” … with $50K fines for all three Cup crew chiefs (which I am sure the coach will pick up), and probation until year end for the crew chiefs, car chiefs and team VP JD Gibbs.
I know the money is no big deal, but JGR needs to stop this silliness with the magnets and funny oil pans. There are ways to get better that do not put the team at risk of potentially damaging points penalties (though points luckily were not deducted this time). And on top of that, you do not want to be known as a cheating team in NASCAR.
I hope the coach lets all his people know this is unacceptable, as NASCAR will likely come down harder if the team continues to break the rules.
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