Great Clips

Keep track of busy Silly Season with this scorecard (video)

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William Byron will move up to Cup next year for Hendrick Motorsports, filling a void left by the departure of Kasey Kahne.

With the news last week that Stewart-Haas Racing had declined to pick up the option for next year for Kurt Busch, it leaves the reigning Daytona 500 winner (Busch) and Brickyard 400 winner (Kahne) without an announced ride for next season.

Here’s a look at where Silly Season stands as the Cup series heads to Michigan International Speedway this weekend.

ANNOUNCED RIDES FOR 2018

Erik Jones will drive the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing Matt Kenseth (announcement made July 11)

Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. (announcement made July 20)

Brad Keselowski agrees to contract extension to drive the No. 2 car for Team Penske (announcement made July 25

Ryan Blaney moves to Team Penske to drive No. 12 car and signs multi-year contract extension (announcement made July 26)

Paul Menard moves to Wood Brothers Racing to drive No. 21 car (announcement made July 26)

William Byron will drive the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Kasey Kahne (announcement made Aug. 9)

OPEN/POSSIBLY OPEN RIDES

— No. 10: Sponsorship has yet to be announced for next season, and Danica Patrick could be out. Patrick told USA Today on Aug. 5 that there’s “no buyout needed. I don’t have a sponsor. It’s contingent on the sponsor.’’  

— No. 27: Richard Childress Racing states it will announce its plans for a third Cup team at a later date with Paul Menard joining the Wood Brothers for next season.

— No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing declined to pick up the option on Kurt Busch’s contract for next year on Aug. 1. Even so, the team tweeted that it expected Busch back with sponsor Monster Energy for next year. Busch told reporters Aug. 5 at Watkins Glen that “there are a couple of offers already, so we’ll see how things work out.’’  

— No. 77: With Erik Jones returning to JGR, team owner Barney Visser is looking to fill that seat. The first concern, though, is sponsorship. Visser told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Aug. 9: “We’ve got no sponsorship right now for the 77,” for next season. “So We’ve got to find something. We don’t want to give up that car, but if we don’t get sponsorship, we’ll have to.” Sponsor 5-Hour Energy has an option to return. The company can’t go to any other Cup team with Monster Energy as series sponsor.

AVAILABLE DRIVERS

Matt Kenseth: Out of the No. 20 after this season. Doesn’t have anything for next year at this point. Key could be what kind of salary he’s willing to take next year. On his future, Kenseth said last weekend at Watkins Glen: “Believe it or not, it’s really not at the front of my mind.’’  

Kurt Busch: With Stewart-Haas Racing declining to pick up his option for next year, Busch is a free agent. Even with Stewart-Haas Racing’s action, there’s still a chance Busch could sign a new deal to remain with the organization.

Kasey Kahne: The 2017 Brickyard 400 winner is available after Hendrick Motorsports announced it had released him from the final year of his contract. Rick Hendrick said Aug. 9 that he’s working to help Kahne land a ride for next season and hinted it could through an alliance with Hendrick Motorsports. 

Danica Patrick: Sponsorship uncertainty leaves her status murky for next year.

Aric Almirola: Hasn’t been announced yet as returning to Richard Petty Motorsports next season. He’s tied closely to sponsor Smithfield, which also is in its final year with the team, but Richard Petty has said he’s confident Smithfield will return.

Chris Buescher: He said previously he plans to be back at JTG Daugherty with Roush Fenway Racing expecting to remain a two-car team with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne. That leaves no room there for Buescher, who was loaned to JTG this season. No deal is in place yet. “We are working on next year, trying to get everything in place,’’ Buescher said last month at Indianapolis. “We should have more information in the next couple of months.’’

GMS Racing/Spencer Gallagher: This could be one of the wildcards. This Xfinity team is exploring a move to Cup if it makes financial sense. Some in the garage believe this team will move and could be a two-car team with Spencer Gallagher and a veteran driver. GMS already has an engine deal in the Xfinity Series with Hendrick Motorsports but would need to upgrade that for a Cup effort and possibly add a technical alliance (it has one with JR Motorsports). It also would need to get at least one charter, if not two.

Darrell Wallace Jr.He continues to look for an opportunity after his Xfinity ride with Roush Fenway Racing went away in June because of lack of sponsorship and Aric Almirola returned to the No. 43 earlier this month from injury after Wallace filled in for a few races. Wallace showed well in Almirola’s ride. Key is to find sponsorship. Wallace said Aug. 4 that he’s focused on finding a ride for next year with so few options left for this year.

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Great Clips to end sponsorship of Kasey Kahne’s team after this season

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Great Clips will end its sponsorship of Kasey Kahne’s team at Hendrick Motorsports after this season, Hendrick Motorsports confirmed Wednesday.

ESPN.com first reported the news.

In September, it was announced that Great Clips had signed a two-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports to serve as a primary sponsor of Kahne’s team through the 2018 season.

The deal was for Great Clips to serve as a primary sponsor in 10 races annually.

Great Clips issued a statement to NBC Sports that also stated the company was ending its sponsorship of Kasey Kahne’s World of Outlaws team with driver Daryn Pittman.

“Great Clips will exit two of its motorsports programs at the end of 2017: NASCAR and World of Outlaws. After a nearly 20-year run in NASCAR, Great Clips will focus more of its marketing efforts in new and emerging platforms.

“The Great Clips #5 will take its final turn with Kasey Kahne behind the wheel on Nov. 21 at Miami’s Homestead racetrack.

“Driver Daryn Pittman will be behind the wheel in the final World of Outlaws race for Great Clips on Nov. 4 at Concord, North Carolina.

“We’ve had a great run with NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Kasey Kahne, World of Outlaws, and Daryn Pittman,” said Steve Hockett, Great Clips President. “These racing programs provided us with a platform to expand our brand. From the early days as Kasey’s first full-time sponsor in 2003, he has represented us well on and off the track. Our decision is purely a business one made after careful study about where to pursue more new customer growth through our overall marketing mix.”

“While Great Clips involvement with NASCAR and World of Outlaws wraps up with the 2017 season, the brand will continue its presence in NHRA through 2018. Great Clips will look to grow visibility in other areas such as Monster Jam, college football, and college basketball. The brand will also expand into innovative digital spaces that align with our strategy for new customer growth.

“We want to thank Hendrick Motorsports, Kasey Kahne, NASCAR, World of Outlaws, Daryn Pittman and our Great Clips racing fans for their tremendous support and loyalty over the years,” Hockett said.

Last year, Farmer’s Insurance decided that it would end its sponsorship of the team after the 2017 season. Farmer’s Insurance has been the primary sponsor of Kahne’s car in five of the first 12 points races, including the Daytona 500. Farmer’s Insurance is to be on the car for 12 races.

Great Clips has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 2012. Great Clips signed an extension in July 2013 through 2016 for the company to serve as the primary sponsor in 10 races annually. 

Kahne’s car will have Great Clips as the primary sponsor this weekend at Dover International Speedway. This will be the fourth time Great Clips has been the primary sponsor of Kahne’s car this season. Great Clips also was the primary sponsor earlier this year at Phoenix, Martinsville and Bristol.

Kahne enters this weekend 20th in the points. He has three top-10 finishes in 12 races this season. His best result is a fourth-place finish at Atlanta in March.

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