With the biggest free agent of 2011 now off the market, the focus has shifted to what the future holds for Clint Bowyer. Within the last day we’ve seen Reid Spencer speculate on a possible move by Bowyer to Joe Gibbs Racing, and SI’s Tim Tuttle suggest JGR, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, and Roush Fenway Racing as possible destinations for Bowyer. And besides what’s already floating around, we’ve got some information of our own to share.
The 2011 season has been a bit of an off year for Bowyer and Co. After winning two races last season and finishing tenth in the points, he is winless this year and his average finish is down 1.5 spots to 15.8. He is right on the cusp of being in the Chase, but this lull in performance may be enough to drive him away from Richard Childress Racing.
What’s clear at this point is that Bowyer re-signing with Childress is not a foregone conclusion. He is most certainly in play as a free agent.
First, let’s look at the JGR option. In the Carl Edwards situation, many thought Edwards would take over the Home Depot #20 and Logano would either be out or moved to a fourth team. This could certainly still happen, but with Bowyer instead of Edwards. If Home Depot has actually soured on Logano, Bowyer is a proven winner that may satisfy them. Signing Bowyer would allow JGR to start that fourth team with Logano as driver, and we know from JD Gibbs that NAPA has inquired about sponsorship.
Now, beyond what’s already floating around online, let’s get to what we know.
We’ve been hearing for a few weeks now that UPS has been working on a sponsorship deal for Bowyer. The shipping giant was rumored to have pursued Bowyer back in 2008, but instead settled for David Ragan. They may now be ready to make a deal with Bowyer a reality. Supposedly UPS believes he fits the profile of a UPS delivery driver and would be well suited toward their brand.
Next, it appeared early on that this UPS deal for Bowyer would happen at RCR, but now that might not be the case. We’ve been hearing very recently that Bowyer’s days at RCR are numbered and that a move is coming.
Now, word from our sources today is that a deal is in the works for Bowyer to move to a third car at RPM with UPS sponsorship. Marcos Ambrose’s recent win at Watkins Glen shows RPM can compete, and the equipment alliance with RFR and Roush Yates is helping RPM’s case. We’re hearing the official announcement may come as soon as the Atlanta race. (Don’t forget that Atlanta is the home of UPS.)
Once the Edwards contract got done at RFR, the general feeling was that the rest of the free agents would just fall in line and re-sign. Not exactly an exciting finish to what could have been a crazy Silly Season. But Clint Bowyer may be about to change all that. As always, we will keep you posted as we hear more.