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Friday, August 16, 2013

Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman, oh my! -- Here's the latest on Silly Season

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Musical chairs at a high-scale level has begun in NASCAR.
The following folks have an unknown destination in 2014, with more dominoes likely to drop.

1. Kurt Busch:  He's doing well at the 78 car for upstart Furniture Row and might make the Chase -- impressive to say the least. But the team is small, and bigger teams might come calling; perhaps Chip Ganassi Racing, which just fired Juan Pablo Montoya.

Here's what Kurt had to say about that rumor Friday at MIS:
“(The 42 car becoming open) hasn’t changed anything, I’m good friends with Felix Sabates and I know Chip real well and the whole gang, Max Jones, Steve Lauletta. They came up with that decision not based off any of the talks that I’ve had with them but it is a potential opportunity that’s for sure.”

So he's not saying he's going to the 42 ,but isn't ruling it out; That's a good sign it might well happen.

I give it a good shot of happening. Sure, Furniture Row is affiliated with RCR, but I'm pretty the funding likely isn't there for a fourth car at RCR. A move to Ganassi might be the best move for Kurt, or he could just choose to stay where he's at if no one comes up with a tempting offer. Basically, Kurt has options.

One other point that strengthens the Ganassi option: Kurt has said he wants to run the Indy 500 next year -- Ganassi can make that happen more easily than anyone else in the garage other than his old boss Roger Penske.

2. Ryan Newman: -- Recently losing his ride at Stewart Haas, Ryan Newman is a hot commodity. If Richard Childress can come up with sponsorship to support, Newman would be a strong choice (Austin Dillon will likely go to Cup next season in the 3, so it would have to be a fourth team). If RCR is out of the mix, Newman could be up for the Ganassi ride, or Furniture Row if Kurt Busch leaves. And, of course, who knows what other rides might open -- Newman is perhaps the best available driver, so he should be looked at by a lot of folks.

3. Mark Martin: -- He's out of his part-time ride at MWR, but as Martin Truex Jr. said Friday: "He's so good, it's hard to think he won't be in a racecar." Someone start will pick up Martin as long as he wants to race. Part-time is Mark's preference these days, so perhaps MWR could come up with a part-time ride for him in a fourth car, OR he could split time with Kyle Larson in the 42 car and serve as his mentor.

4. Kyle Larson: -- Ganassi could bring up the young driver to fill the 42 seat, but that would be a mistake in my view. Give him one more year in Nationwide to mature as a driver. He's very young and Joey Logano's story shows that's not the best choice. Someday though, he will be great. A few races in Cup is fine for practice, but don't push him in 2014.

5. Juan Pablo Montoya: -- If I had to bet, I'd say he's on his way back to Indycar to drive for one of the top teams in that series. He wants to compete up front and that's his best bet to do so.

Matt Myftiu can be reached at, or follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu.


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