Monday, December 7, 2009

Charting the Changes: NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2010

As always, there will be changes between the 2009 Sprint Cup season and the 2010 season.  Times are changing, and even the moon and the tides can't stop it.  Though there seem to be few earth shattering changes as of now, history will tell the entire story.

First of all, Jamie McMurray will indeed be the odd man out from Rousch-Fenway racing for 2010, as the company has to shrink to 4 Cup teams from it's previous 5 teams.  Jamie will be driving the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy for Earnhardt-Ganassi in 2010, reunited with his old boss Chip Ganassi.  Will Jamie succeed in this ride, vacated by Martin Truex Jr?  Only time will tell.  I'm wondering if the EGR program will be able to put another team in the Chase next year besides Juan Pablo Montoya.  Jamie is capable of winning races, but he's going to have all the parts complete to do so.

In the #12 Verizon Dodge will be Brad Keselowski, recent Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nationwide driver and Cup winner at Talladega in the spring race of 2009.  Brad will have Jay Guy has his crew chief, and as much as I like this young driver, I imagine he will have some automatic adversaries on the track, namely Denny Hamlin, and probably a dude named Kyle as well.

In the #56 NAPA Toyota, we will see Martin Truex Jr., coming from the #1 EGR Chevy.  Martin will be basically replacing team owner Michael Waltrip in the NAPA car, though Mikey will likely run a few races in his familiar 55 machine when he can find sponsorship, and quite frankly, when he feels like it.  Martin Truex likely will be exactly what MWR needs in 2010, which is a proven winner, hard charger, and a new guy on the block trying to impress his friends.  Truex is a great acquisition for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Bobby Labonte received a major shock in 2009 when it was announced that he would be removed from the driver's seat of the #96 Ford for 7 races in favor of rookie Eric Darnell because Darnell had a deal for those 7 races.  Old friend Slugger Labbe called up Bobby and helped get him a ride in the #71Ford, and darned if Bobby didn't start running some pretty good qualifying laps and even some good races in that Ford.  Bobby will be driving full time in 2010 in the TRG car next year, with Slugger continuing to sit on top of the pit box.  Apparently, there is some talk that the team may change to Chevy or even Dodge, so that's all up in the air right now.  It's good that Bobby landed on his feet again, so it would seem.

Eric Darnell will replace Bobby Labonte in the 96 car, if indeed that team continues to exist in 2010.  We'll see.

There are more changes to chart, and I will put those up in a later column.

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