Silly Season includes crew chief moves at Hendrick Motorsports
Matt DiBenedetto, whose career has often been overshadowed, got to bask in the attention surrounding his 2019 ride at Leavine Family Racing for a couple of hours Wednesday.
Then Hendrick Motorsports shook the sport by announcing it was splitting Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus - one of NASCAR’s greatest driver/crew chief combinations - after this season.
That just added to a Cup Silly Season that has already seen four drivers announce new rides for next year - and more to come with future announcements for Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez and Kurt Busch, among others.
Here’s a look at where things stand in Silly Season:
ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2019
No. 6: Ryan Newman joins Roush Fenway Racing for next season (announcement made Sept. 22)
No. 13: Ty Dillon said he will remain at Germain Racing for the 2019 season (announcement made Sept. 24)
No. 31: Daniel Hemric replaces Ryan Newman at Richard Childress Racing beginning next season (announcement made Sept. 28)
No. 43: Bubba Wallace will remain with Richard Petty Motorsports through the 2020 season (announcement made July 28)
No. 47: Ryan Preece replaces AJ Allmendinger at JTG Daugherty Racing beginning next season (announcement made Sept. 28)
No. 95: Matt DiBenedetto moves to Leavine Family Racing for 2019. Leavine Family Racing also switches to Toyota beginning next year (announcement made Oct. 10)
CUP RIDES NOT YET ANNOUNCED FOR 2019
No. 1: The Associated Press reported Sept. 10 that car owner Chip Ganassi had offered Jamie McMurray a contract to drive in the 2019 Daytona 500 and then move into a management position. Ganassi was awaiting McMurray’s decision. The move means the No. 1 will be open for 2019.
No. 23: Front Row Motorsports purchased the BK Racing team in bankruptcy court in August. Front Row needs the team to run the rest of the season to maintain the charter. After this season, Front Row could run a third car, lease this charter or sell this charter.
No. 32: Go Fas Racing is looking for a driver after Matt DiBenedetto announced Sept. 7 that he won’t return to the team after this season.
No. 41: Kurt Busch signed a one-year deal in December to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing. He said Aug. 31 at Darlington that he has two contract offers for 2019 but did not reveal what teams they were from. Busch said Sept. 7 he had no updates on his status.
DRIVERS WITHOUT ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR 2019
AJ Allmendinger: He has not announced what his plans will be for 2019.
Trevor Bayne:2011 Daytona 500 winner is looking for a ride after the Sept. 12 announcement that he won’t return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2019. He told NBC Sports on Sept. 14 that he has been calling car owners looking for a ride and would look at any of NASCAR’s top three national series.
Kurt Busch: 2004 champion’s contract expires after this season with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Jamie McMurray: Although he has not revealed his plans, car owner Chip Ganassi told the AP that he had offered McMurray a contract for only the 2019 Daytona 500 before McMurray would move into a management role.
Daniel Suarez: With reports stating that Martin Truex Jr. will go to Joe Gibbs Racing and drive the No. 19, Suarez is looking for a ride. He said Sept. 21 that “we’re talking to a lot of people.” Suarez is the favorite for the No. 41 ride.
Martin Truex Jr: Reigning series champion has not announced a ride for 2019 with the Sept. 4 news that Furniture Row Racing is shutting down after this season. Truex, though, is expected to move to the No. 19 at Joe Gibbs Racing and replace Daniel Suarez.
CREW CHIEF CHANGES
No. 24: Chad Knaus replaces Darian Grubb as William Byron’s crew chief in 2019 (announcement made Oct. 10)
No. 48: Kevin Meendering will replace Chad Knaus as Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief in 2019 (announcement made Oct. 10)
ANNOUNCED CHANGES FOR 2019
No. 1: Noah Gragson replaces Elliott Sadler at JR Motorsports beginning next year (announcement made Sept. 25).