KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Regan Smith’s confirmed Saturday he is leaving JR Motorsports, the latest domino in what has been a relatively quiet “Silly Season” for NASCAR.
The annual game of musical chairs for drivers, sponsors and teams has delivered some news, though, and a few modest developments remain.
A list of several Xfinity and Sprint Cup drivers who are mulling career moves or already have announced plans this season.
STILL ON THE MOVE?
Justin Allgaier: It’s unclear if he will return to HScott Motorsports, which would need to add a third Chevrolet to pair with announced drivers Clint Bowyer and Michael Annett for 2016. Believed to have the Brandt sponsorship in tow, Allgaier has assets to shop. If he decided to return to the Xfinity Series, JRM would be a natural fit. If Allgaier remains in Cup, Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 9 Ford might be an option.
Sam Hornish Jr.: It could be one and done at RPM for the three-time IndyCar champion, who has struggled in his full-time return to NASCAR’s premier series. Team officials have said sponsorship will determine who drivers the car in 2016, and Hornish doesn’t have major backers to bring. Having declined previous opportunities to consider a return to IndyCar, the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner seems committed to staying in a stock car, whether Xfinity or Cup.
David Ragan: Though he would prefer to remain in Cup, Ragan’s main priority is a competitive and stable ride, and he’d drop into a lower series to ensure it. Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing has expanded his Rolodex, and he has built a reputation as a clean-cut spokesman, but sponsorship (or the lack of it) ultimately could determine his future.
Chris Buescher: Team owner Jack Roush has said Buescher is ready for Sprint Cup, but the landing spot doesn’t seem as certain. Roush Fenway Racing seems committed to a 2016 lineup of Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., so it might be unable to promote the Xfinity Series points leader even if his season ends with a championship. The No. 9 of RPM could be an intriguing alternative through Ford involvement.
Ryan Blaney: Under contract to Roger Penske, whose team has been trying to coordinate sponsorship for Wood Brothers Racing to put Blaney in a full-time Cup ride next year.
Elliott Sadler: Will bring his OneMain sponsorship to JRM next year.
A.J. Allmendinger: Signed a five-year extension in January with JTG Daugherty Racing.
Kurt Busch: Has agreed to an extension with Stewart-Haas Racing that is expected to be announced with sponsorship soon, perhaps this week.
Martin Truex Jr.: Signed a one-year deal for 2016 with Furniture Row Racing, which hopes to find sponsorship to fund a multiyear extension.