The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Musical Chairs at 200 MPH

Musical Chairs at 200 MPH

BY Chris Stevens


A silly season for NASCAR is in full swing and it seems like everyone but pace car driver Brett Bodine is changing seats for 2018. The biggest move of the season has been the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Alex Bowman was named the new driver of the #88. Kasey Kahne will also be departing Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the season and joining Leavine Family Racing in the #95, current driver Michael McDowell has been named the driver of the #34 Ford for Front Row Mototrsports, joining David Ragan. Danica Patrick will not return to Stewart- Hass Racing in 2018 but has plans to run the Daytona 500 one more time, Aric Almirola was announced as her replacement and will bring his sponsor, Smithfield Foods to the #10 car. Bubba Wallace Jr. has been tabbed to take over the King’s famous #43 and with that move the team announced a new alliance and manufacturer change to Chevrolet and RCR will be building the chassis and engines.

Wallace caught the team’s eye while subbing for the injured Almirola last season. Matt Kenseth announced that he was leaving the Joe Gibbs organization and that Eric Jones would be in the #20 next season. Furniture Row Racing announced that the charter to the #77 was going to be sold and that the team would go back to a one car team with 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series Champion Martin Truex Jr. in the #78. Paul Menard is going to be filling the seat in the #21 for the Wood Brothers as Ryan Blaney joins Team Penske in the #12 with sponsorship from Menard’s, PPG Paints and others not named as of yet. Ray Black Jr. will move up from the Xfinity Series and pilot the #51 Rick Ware Racing machine.

Not changing teams but changing numbers next season is Chase Elliott with Hendrick Motorsports, he will be taking the famous #9 and giving the keys to the #24 to 2018 Rookie candidate, William Byron. Filling the shoes of NASCAR’S most popular driver Dale Jr. will be a daunting task placed upon the shoulders of the youth movement that will also add to the excitement of the 2018 season. Byron, Blaney, Elliott, Jones, and Bowman seem to be ready for greatness and hungry for wins. Those wins can only bring more fans and more attention to the sport and hopefully lay a foundation for the continued success of the sport.

Big changes in the garage are also in store, which include multiple crew chief and spotter changes. Chevrolet will debut its Camaro in the Cup series, retiring the SS platform. The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be using composite bodies as a cost saving measure aimed at helping smaller teams. With the season coming to a close and Daytona around the corner, there are some big changes in store for race fans next season that NASCAR hopes to draw more fans and fill those empty seats that are becoming more and more noticeable.

[Photo: Team Penske]

Musical Chairs at 200 MPH
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Musical Chairs at 200 MPH

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