Will Kenseth Jump-Start 2013 ‘Silly Season’ At Atlanta?

Charlotte, NC (August 27, 2012) – It was interesting to see the fleet of No. 20 Home Depot cars lined up at the Joe Gibbs Racing shops during a visit there late last week and to think that – if all the rumors are correct – there will be a new name over the driver’s door next season.

This week, we’ll supposedly hear just what that name will be as Matt Kenseth, JGR and Home Depot will reportedly make an official announcement about their 2013 and beyond association.

Let the ‘Silly Season’ begin.

For you NASCAR newbies out there, the Silly Season – when drivers start announcing new alliances for the following year – has long been a part of the sport. Usually beginning in the fall, it only takes one domino to fall in order to open up a multitude of opportunities for others to make their move.

This year, Kenseth is that domino.

The 2003 NASCAR Winston (now Sprint) Cup champion is the prize catch in this year’s fishing derby. His 460 Cup starts have produced 22 wins, including this year’s Daytona 500. Entrenched at Roush Fenway Racing throughout his now 15-year Cup Series run, it was assumed Kenseth would never leave there.

That’s expected to change this weekend when he formally announces he’ll step out of the seat of his RFR No. 17 Ford trading it for the bright orange No. 20 JRG Toyota.

Kenseth’s power move will scramble the dominos with the first to fall being Joey Logano, the incumbent wheelman of the No. 20 ride. At 22, Logano has already had the kind of NASCAR career most drivers could only dream about – two Cup wins in 135 starts – and 15 Nationwide Series victories (including one at Bristol this past Friday) in just 103 outings.

To be sure, Logano’s numbers are impressive. That is until you compare them to Jimmie Johnson’s 18 wins and two NASCAR Sprint Cup championships during the same four-year period that Logano has wheeled the No. 20 JGR entry.

Granted, comparing anybody’s results to Johnson’s is unfair in some ways, but it’s inevitable for anyone driving the Home Depot car. With Johnson consistently parking the Lowe’s Home Improvement colors in Victory Lane and at the head table at the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship awards program, the Home Depot folks have been feeling more green that bright orange in recent seasons.

That’s especially true given Home Depot is currently crushing Lowes in the real race for both companies – sales and profitability in the home improvement store retail marketplace.

It’s even worse considering that before Johnson and his string of Cup titles came along, it was Tony Stewart and the Home Depot car ruling the roost consistently winning races and Cup championships (2002, 2005).

Now it will up to Kenseth to restore that on-track ‘glory’ to the Home Depot car -right after he, Joe Gibbs and all the honchos at Home Depot give us the thumbs up at Atlanta, the site of this weekend’s race and the corporate home for Home Depot.

Meanwhile, Logano probably won’t be in the Silly Season mix for long. Both he and Roger Penske have been stepping around the issue saying there is ‘interest’ in a partnership to fill the No. 22 seat A.J. Allmendinger vacated earlier this season. It’s a perfect fit – a new beginning for both – as Penske switches to Ford and brings along Logano, one of the brightest young talents in racing with him.

Remember – Logano is just 22. There’s a lot of growing, maturing and more wins in Logano who will most surely drive for a couple of more decades. Along with 28-year-old Brad Keselowski, Penske and Ford will have a young, potent 1-2 punch they can ride for years to come – assuming that’s where Logano winds up.

Seemingly, everyone is getting what they want/need in this deal – Kenseth gets a new challenge in an already notable career, JGR secures it’s position with Home Depot while Home Depot gets it’s own Cup champion and family man/home improvement product spokesperson to battle Johnson and Lowes head on.

Meanwhile, Logano jumps to Penske, an organization equal to that of JGR – and Penske gets a young, but already veteran driver who has unlimited potential.

Sounds like everybody wins in this scenario.

Then again, maybe not.

There are still plenty of others who are in the Silly Season mixmaster. Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Travis Kvapil, Dave Blaney, David Gilliland, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Landon Cassill, David Ragan, Mike Bliss, David Stremme and Josh Wise are all drivers who will be in play trying to better – or at least solidify – their Cup efforts for 2013 in the next couple of months.

Ditto for NNS regulars Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish, Jr. – both of whom have made it no secret that they would like to be collecting a fat Sprint Cup check each week next season.

With all those in play and not enough good opportunities to satisfy all, it’s no wonder it is called the ‘Silly Season.’

And – if you believe the rumors – it will start in earnest when Kenseth pulls the trigger this weekend in Atlanta announcing his move to JGR, Toyota and Home Depot.

Stay tuned, this is going to be interesting.

Share Button