The Watkins Glen road course provided some great racing this weekend, but while the action on track was interesting, so were some of the rumors floating around the garage. We heard a few different bits this weekend that we wanted to share, and I figured I’d weigh in on them with some of my own thoughts.
First up, we reported on Twitter (follow us @nascarinsider) yesterday that we’d heard NASCAR took a box of lugnuts from Marcos Ambrose’s Nationwide Series team during the race. Word is that they were illegal in some way. Don’t be surprised if the team is penalized this week. I don’t expect NASCAR will take the win away however. Quick Update: Scenedaily.com’s Kenny Bruce reported via his Twitter page that NASCAR did indeed take lugnuts from the #47, but later decided there was no issue.
The most ridiculous rumor that we’ve heard on a few different occasions recently, is that Red Bull Racing is shutting down at the end of the season. I know the team’s performance has been abysmal this season, and question marks surround both of the team’s normal drivers, Brian Vickers and Scott Speed, but this is one I just don’t believe. There was even a report late this evening that Red Bull may be where Kasey Kahne ends up for the 2011 season. Some major changes are probably in order for this team internally, but don’t expect them to close down any time soon.
While Red Bull’s future is probably safe, we have heard that Kevin Conway’s days might be numbered at Front Row Motorsports. It sounds like the team has grown tired of Conway’s poor performance, and this group will struggle mightily to make races if the #34 falls out of the top 35 in owners points. They are currently 35th in the standings, only 182 points ahead of 36th. A few more bad finishes, and Conway will be on the outside looking in. To this point in the season, Conway has had a guaranteed starting position in every race, due to some fancy number wrangling by owner Bob Jenkins. With one team already outside the top 35 however, thanks to the tire debacle at Pocono earlier in the year, Jenkins can’t afford to have another team fall out. Word is that Extenze would continue sponsoring the team, but another yet-to-be-named driver would be brought in.
Richard Petty Motorsports officially announced on Friday that AJ Allmendinger had signed a multi-year agreement to remain the driver of the #43 Ford. With that settled, a number of other questions still plague this organization; namely sponsors and other drivers. With the rumblings that Paul Menard is taking his family sponsor to RCR, Kahne’s known departure for Hendrick, and Elliott Sadler’s apparent dissatisfaction, Allmendinger is short a few teammates for 2011. We are still hearing that Ambrose will probably end up in either the #9 or #19 next season, and a deal may be close between the two parties, pending sponsorship. Another name that has popped up as a potential replacement for RPM next season is Aric Almirola. Almirola has revived what appeared to be a fading career this season with a strong NCWTS campaign to this point that currently includes two wins. The young driver also impressed folks a few weeks ago with a third place finish at ORP driving for JR Motorsports #88 NNS team. If the team can find sponsorship, Almirola would be a decent addition.
Like I wrote on Friday, it’s certainly been a crazy Silly Season, and there are still plenty of dominoes left to fall. It will certainly be fun to see what plays out.