With several drivers (including some big names) possibly entering free agency after the 2020 season, contracts were a hot topic during NASCAR America’s first show of the year Monday.
Kyle Larson heads a list of drivers whose deals expire after the year. Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Matt DiBenedetto, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Bubba Wallace and Alex Bowman also are imprending free agents.
“There’s a lot of people who need to be concerned,” NASCAR on NBC analyst Kyle Petty said. “If you look at a Brad Keselowski, a Ryan Blaney, an Erik Jones, there’s a lot of upside on some of these guys.
“Now some of these guys are Kyle Petty. They already run their course. I think in this day and time as we look at a William Byron and some of the young guys coming through, I’d put Harrison Burton in a car before some of the guys on this list, and he’s never been in a Cup car. Because there’s upside. That’s where some of these guys, when that music stops, some of these guys aren’t going to have a seat.”
Steve Letarte believes that Larson and Blaney are the two most likely to have “a pot of gold” awaiting them if they score multiple victories (especially early in the season). Petty, though, said he has “yet to see them put together a whole season. They’ve put pieces of a season together. Give me 36 solid races where I know your head is in the game. Then you move up on my list.”
Jeff Burton noted that Team Penske has strong ties to Blaney, Keselowski and DiBenedetto. “Roger Penske can’t lose that much talent, and he won’t,” Burton said. “I don’t know how you don’t put Brad on that list. He’s a champion who consistently runs up front. We talk about should (Larson) run sprint cars, and the only thing he’s doing is running his stock up. If he can hop in a sprint car and win races, it puts (pressure) on Ganassi.
“I agree with Larson and Blaney, but if I own a race team, and Brad Keselowksi is available, I’m surely going to sit there and have a conversation with him.”
To watch more on the discussion of 2020 free agents, click on the video above.