By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on August 9, 2017 | 10:30 A.M. EST&#thirteen;
With the arrival of William Byron (9) to the No. 5 and Erik Jones shifting to the No. 20, the 2018 Monster Power NASCAR Cup Collection driver roster continues to have a decidedly youthful look.. (Photograph: Getty Photographs)&#thirteen;
“Out with the previous and in with the brand new.”
If NASCAR 2018 is on the lookout for a advertising slogan, that straightforward saying works completely.
After a lot hypothesis that “Foolish Season” would reside as much as its identify, the final a number of weeks have delivered. One announcement after one other has modified the panorama of subsequent yr’s driver roster and there’s extra to return.
Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and Matt Kenseth are not sure of the place they’ll compete subsequent yr – if in any respect. Kahne misplaced his seat at Hendrick Motorsports, which is being crammed by William Byron. Stewart-Haas Racing didn’t decide up Busch’s 2018 choice and this yr’s Daytona 500 winner is free to search for different alternatives.
Patrick advised USA In the present day over the weekend that her return to SHR is contingent upon sponsorship, which as of now is just not there for the No. 10 automotive. Kenseth was changed at Joe Gibbs Racing by Erik Jones coming over from Furnishings Row Racing, leaving the 2003 collection champion with no journey.
There are two widespread threads operating by way of a majority of the modifications happening: youth and cash.
Younger expertise like Byron and Jones together with Alex Bowman, who takes over for the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Daniel Suarez are all getting their photographs at NASCAR’s prime degree at a extra accelerated tempo than up to now. Not are staff house owners married to the concept a younger driver must toil longer within the Xfinity Collection and even the Tenting World Truck Collection for seasoning.
The times of again-to-again NXS champions like Martin Truex Jr. or Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who each put collectively consecutive-title seasons within the not-too-distant previous, look like over. Studying on the job and progressing over the course of the lengthy Cup season is now in vogue.
However the different element to the present development is equally, if no more, essential – dollars and cents. The “proper-sizing” of groups which have much less sponsorship dollars than have been out there a decade in the past is forcing house owners to take a look at driver salaries.
Veterans like Busch, Kenseth and Kahne – even with their previous successes and capabilities to proceed acting at a excessive degree – can’t command the contracts they loved of their prime. When a staff proprietor can convey up a Byron or Jones at a fraction of the fee whereas on the similar time, cultivating their expertise, the underside line turns into the underside line in that call.
Earnhardt made some pointed feedback concerning the state of affairs final weekend at Watkins Glen that hit residence for quite a lot of drivers and group house owners.
“You’ve acquired a man who you assume has a number of expertise, very younger, numerous potential and a veteran who’s established however needs three, 4, 5, six occasions the sum of money,” Earnhardt defined. “You’re going to go together with a youthful man as a result of it’s a greater deal financially.
“That’s a shift that’s going to be higher for the game. Get these salaries into a sensible vary for a way a lot cash we’ve from company America.”
Will probably be fascinating to see if this enterprise type continues as NASCAR enjoys a really fruitful pipeline of younger drivers all on the lookout for the chance. A mixture of expertise, potential and economics could also be too robust an equation for much more veteran drivers to beat within the coming seasons.
The opinions expressed listed here are these of the author and don’t essentially mirror the positions of the Motor Racing Community.