We knew that Silly Season for 2021 would start early this year. I mean, how could it now? This was a unique free agent market in that several big named drivers with several big named teams had contracts that were up after the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Names like Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Matt DiBenedetto, Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoie didn’t have deals in place for 2021.
Plus, you had a seat with Hendrick Motorsports available with Jimmie Johnson retiring.
On Friday, one of those deals was done.
Team Penske announced a multi-year extension with Blaney to keep him around for the foreseeable future. Blaney and Joey Logano will return for 2021 and beyond with Penske.
So, what comes next?
I have a feeling that Bowman and HMS will reach a deal in some way. Bowman, could have finished in the top two in each of the last two weeks including his win in leading 110 of 200 laps last Sunday in Fontana. The only problem with Bowman is, he doesn’t have a big financial backing.
But, the 48 car does. Maybe, Bowman shifts to the 48 car to replace Johnson and the team can sign one of the other drivers on this list to move to the 88? Chase Elliott and William Byron have long term deals still and sponsors for the 9, 24 and 48 cars are in place through at least 2023.
We know Larson wants to still race on dirt during the season and HMS hasn’t necessarily been keen to allow their drivers to race outside of Cup during the season. Chip Ganassi Racing will. I have a feeling Larson stays put.
That would just leave the veterans. Keselowski, has been rumored to going to HMS. Team Penske has Austin Cindric at their disposal to move up to a Cup ride. They could also shift DiBenedetto over and move Cindric to the Wood Brothers too. I would be shocked if Ford let DiBenedetto go, as he can even take one of the rides at SHR too.
Either way, expect Silly Season to continue to heat up more and more as the season goes on.