CUP: Silly Season Shaping Up

Two more dominoes for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season fell Tuesday, with the expected announcements that Budweiser will be Kevin Harvick's primary sponsor and that Marcos Ambrose will move to Richard Petty Motorsports.

This has been a very active year for movement among drivers, sponsors and teams, with more deals still to be done. Here are the major moves by top 30 teams so far for next year, with a few left to come.

PENSKE RACING — Brad Keselowski takes over No. 2 Blue Deuce next season, with Kurt Busch moving to No. 22 Penske Dodge, with sponsorship from Pennzoil. Sam Hornish Jr.’s future uncertain with pending departure of Mobil 1.

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING — Adds fourth car with driver Paul Menard and Menards sponsorship. Budweiser will be Harvick’s primary sponsor for 20 races and the two non-points races. Team owner Richard Childress is confident he’ll sell the remaining 16 races to another sponsor(s).

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS — Hendrick is still looking for sponsorship for Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin next season. Wal-Mart could end up as Gordon’s primary sponsor, or co-primary in connection with DuPont. The 2011 season will be Martin’s third and final at Hendrick.

ROUSH FENWAY RACING — RFR President Geoff Smith said Sunday that all four of the team’s cars are fully funded for 2011, and its four drivers are under contract as well.

JOE GIBBS RACING — It is unlikely that JGR will add a fourth car for next season, and its three drivers remain under contract. All of the major primary sponsors are expected to return.

RED BULL RACING — Kasey Kahne will drive for Red Bull for 2011, only before moving to Hendrick in ’12. Still to be determined: Whether Kahne will drive a third Red Bull car or be a teammate to either Brian Vickers or Scott Speed. Vickers continues to recover from blood clots, while Speed’s performance has been an issue. It is unclear whether Vickers and/or Speed will return in 2011. It is also unclear whether Kenny Francis, Kahne’s longtime crew chief, will move with him.

STEWART-HAAS RACING — SHR is looking for a replacement sponsor for Old Spice, which will leave the No. 14 car of Tony Stewart at the end of the season. The team also is looking to sell some races on Ryan Newman’s No. 39. Rumored candidates: Mobil 1 for the No. 14, WIX Filters for the No. 39.

RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS — AJ Allmendinger (No. 43) and Marcos Ambrose (No. 9) will drive for RPM with Best Buy and Stanley back as sponsors. Menard has left and taken his sponsorship with him, while Elliott Sadler has said he won’t return to the team. It appears unlikely the team will have four cars next year, but it might have three.

MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING — David Reutimann has signed a contract extension, and he and Martin Truex Jr. will both be back next season as the team looks to continue to grow and develop.

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING — Bobby Labonte, the 2000 Sprint Cup Series champion, will replace Ambrose next season.

EARNHARDT GANASSI RACING — Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya are both expected back with the team next year.

FURNITURE ROW RACING — Regan Smith, who has shown real promise, has been offered a multi-year contract extension to remain with the Colorado-based team.

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for You can follow him online at and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.