Sport Column: Free agency heating up for Earnhardt's ride

04:05  20 june  2017
04:05  20 june  2017 Source:   Associated Press

Earnhardt on running Daytona 500 again: ‘Well, you never say never’

  Earnhardt on running Daytona 500 again: ‘Well, you never say never’ It's Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final season as a full-time driver in the Monster Energy Series, but that doesn’t mean he’s totally finished with driving. Earnhardt already has said he’ll run a couple of NASCAR XFINITY Series races for the JR Motorsports team he and sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller own. But Friday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway, Earnhardt dropped a significant bombshell: He’d be open to running the Daytona 500 after this year.“Well, you never say never,” Earnhardt said when asked about Daytona. “I’m just retiring from full-time racing. I’m going to run some XFINITY races next year.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - (AP) -- Brad Keselowski left himself very little wiggle room when asked if he is a candidate to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season. Keselowski is in a contract year with Team Penske, and crew chief Paul Wolfe has already signed a multi-year extension to stay on. Keselowski?

As NASCAR hits the long, slow stretch of summer, its "silly season" is certainly heating up and Earnhardt ' s seat in the No. 88 Chevrolet the biggest prize of free agency . Keselowski would be a great fit for the 88.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Brad Keselowski left himself very little wiggle room when asked if he is a candidate to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season.

Earnhardt on running Daytona 500 again: ‘Well, you never say never’

  Earnhardt on running Daytona 500 again: ‘Well, you never say never’ It's Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final season as a full-time driver in the Monster Energy Series, but that doesn’t mean he’s totally finished with driving. Earnhardt already has said he’ll run a couple of NASCAR XFINITY Series races for the JR Motorsports team he and sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller own. But Friday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway, Earnhardt dropped a significant bombshell: He’d be open to running the Daytona 500 after this year.“Well, you never say never,” Earnhardt said when asked about Daytona. “I’m just retiring from full-time racing. I’m going to run some XFINITY races next year.

As NASCAR hits the long, slow stretch of summer, its "silly season" is certainly heating up and Earnhardt ' s seat in the No. 88 Chevrolet the biggest prize of free agency . Keselowski would be a great fit for the 88.

19, 2017 6:09 PM ET Column : Free agency heating up for Earnhardt ' s ride By JENNA FRYERBy JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Writer. AIM. Keselowski? Well, there's no signature on his new contract and the delay has left many wondering if he's eyeing Earnhardt ' s ride or simply using it as

Keselowski is in a contract year with Team Penske, and crew chief Paul Wolfe has already signed a multi-year extension to stay on. Keselowski? Well, there's no signature on his new contract and the delay has left many wondering if he's eyeing Earnhardt's ride or simply using it as leverage in negotiating with Roger Penske.

''Roger has given me a lot, and I have no reason to not want to stay with him,'' Keselowski replied when The Associated Press asked him if Earnhardt's retirement at the end of the season and his open seat at Hendrick Motorsports is holding up a new deal.

As NASCAR hits the long, slow stretch of summer, its ''silly season'' is certainly heating up and Earnhardt's seat in the No. 88 Chevrolet the biggest prize of free agency.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. keeping door open to race in more Daytona 500s

  Dale Earnhardt Jr. keeping door open to race in more Daytona 500s Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he would need to be presented the "right deal," but he's open to getting in the car for the Great American Race beyond 2017.But that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t ever have a third.

As NASCAR hits the long, slow stretch of summer, its "silly season" is certainly heating up and Earnhardt ' s seat in the No. 88 Chevrolet the biggest prize of free agency . Keselowski would be a great fit for the 88.

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Keselowski would be a great fit for the 88. His NASCAR career was launched by Earnhardt, and he spent time as a development driver in the Hendrick system. But he flourished after hooking up with Penske near the end of 2009 and was a Cup champion three years later.

Perhaps Keselowski wants more support for his Truck Series team, which loses money annually but is a starting point for many young NASCAR drivers. It's hard to say what the holdup is, particularly because very few employees ever voluntarily leave teams owned by Roger Penske or Rick Hendrick, but it's a strong bet that Keselowski eventually signs his name to stay right where he is now.

So where does that leave Earnhardt's seat?

Hendrick actually has two potential vacancies. Kasey Kahne has a contract to drive the No. 5 through next season, but few would be surprised if he's replaced at the end of the year.

That would mean Hendrick needs to scour the market for available drivers, and the top name may very well be Matt Kenseth. The two-time Daytona 500 winner is in a contract year with Joe Gibbs Racing, and what he decides for his future could be the most important domino to fall. Yes, Alex Bowman did an admirable job filling in for Earnhardt last season, but he's young and unproven, and could be a hard sell to sponsors who pay top dollar for Earnhardt's representation.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. keeping door open to race in more Daytona 500s

  Dale Earnhardt Jr. keeping door open to race in more Daytona 500s Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he would need to be presented the "right deal," but he's open to getting in the car for the Great American Race beyond 2017.But that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t ever have a third.

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William Byron probably isn't ready for a Cup ride - he has all of 13 Xfinity Series races on his resume - so Hendrick is going to need a seat filler if he does indeed end up with two empty cars. It wouldn't be surprising to see Bowman in one ride and Kenseth in the other.

But Kenseth could also do a swap with Erik Jones, and he could remain part of the JGR and Toyota pipeline, while Jones gets his spot with the A-team. If that's how it goes down, then anything is possible throughout the rest of the garage.

Ryan Blaney, NASCAR's newest first-time winner, could be pulled inside the Penske camp as a third full-time driver next season. That would leave a vacancy at The Wood Brothers, and Paul Menard could very well be headed there. Menard is sponsored by his father's home improvement stores, and John Menard last year announced an IndyCar deal with Penske. That could be expanded into NASCAR, and Penske's strong relationship with the Woods team could factor into a Menard move from Richard Childress Racing.

There's not been much talk about Stewart-Haas Racing, but there could be significant changes there next season. Team co-owner Gene Haas already pays for a portion of Kurt Busch's program, and Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer have sponsorship holes on both of their cars.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. set for final twists and turns at Sonoma

  Dale Earnhardt Jr. set for final twists and turns at Sonoma As the season nears the halfway point, Earnhardt begins making his final appearances at several tracks.As the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season nears the halfway point, Earnhardt will begin making his final appearances as a full-time driver at race tracks from Northern California to New Hampshire to Florida.

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Busch is believed to be in a contract year, but Cup title sponsor Monster Energy also helps foot the bill on his car and may decide it doesn't need to be with an individual driver. That doesn't mean Haas will dump Busch - he hired him specifically to put the Haas logos in victory lane - but keeping him could be expensive.

Same goes for Patrick, who said last week said she wants to continue racing. She must really love it, then: After a hard hit Sunday at Michigan, it's starting to seem less and less worth the effort for Patrick.

Her wreck was the fourth in the last eight races - and two have been pretty nasty. She has so many other interests and professional ventures that the time put into NASCAR, where Patrick is currently ranked a career-low 30th, seems sort of silly.

Should sponsorship problems end her time at Stewart-Haas, it is unlikely Patrick will land a ride with another team. Nearly every team has sponsorship holes, and few can afford to sign on a driver and pay for it out of pocket.

And then there's Carl Edwards.

He ''retired'' in January, about six weeks after coming heartbreakingly short of winning his first Cup title, and only he knows if he'll be back in a car next season. If he's in, well, that could solve many of Rick Hendrick's current problems.

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More AP Auto Racing: http://racing.ap.org/

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Secret Race Car Graveyard .
Deep in the woods of North Carolina, Dale Jr. is building a collection of wrecked race cars. It's spooky and beautiful.Apparently, Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares our fascination with dead and decaying cars. Which is why he's spent the last several years collecting up wrecked race cars and depositing them in the woods of Dirty Mo Acres, his sprawling home and racing compound in rural North Carolina.

Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/sports/-60495-column-free-agency-heating-up-for-earnhardts-ride/

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