Saturday, April 24, 2010

Silly Season Conspiracies

All the driver and sponsor changes announced thus far for 2011 has the Beagle thinking.

Kasey Kahne has signed a contract to drive the #5 for Hendrick Motorsports beginning in 2012. What I don't get is why Rick Hendrick would sign Kasey to a contract without a ride for 2011, and for that matter why Kasey would sign such a contract. Now, don't get me wrong. I completely understand why Kasey would want to drive for HMS. Who wouldn't? They're the dominant team with the best equipment, and they've won the Championship the past four years. Still, there's NASCAR's four car limit, and unless Mark Martin retires, Rick is looking for a ride for Kasey, and I don't see Kasey riding around for a full season in a Nationwide car.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that Rick will park Kasey at Stewart/Haas for the 2011 season. Somehow, I just can't see Tony babysitting Kasey for a year. Then again, the prospect does give Tony a tremendous advantage at the negotiating table .

I have to wonder if there's something going on at Hendrick that they've so far managed to keep a tight lid on. What could that possibly be, you ask? Here's what I'm thinking. Two scenarios come to mind.

1.) Jeff Gordon retires at the end of the 2010 season. Mark Martin would finish his HMS contract in the #24, thus freeing the #5 for Kasey. It's plausible. Jeff's physical condition was a major storyline of 2009, and with the birth of his second child, he might just be looking for other opportunities.

2.) Chad Knaus is a man without a contract. His previous contract expired last August. Now, there's no way in you-know-where that Knaus leaves HMS for another team, BUT, there is speculation, that Chad is more than ready to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Ray Evernham, and form his own Cup team. I have no doubt that should Chad choose to move in this direction, Rick Hendrick would provide chassis, engines, and any other support needed.

You can understand why Rick would want to keep either of these possibilities under wraps as long as possible- especially the Knaus scenario. Trust me, the news of Knaus leaving to form his own team, and thus splitting with Jimmie, would send shock waves through the NASCAR garages.

Anyway, that what's been going through my mind .


  1. Katie,

    Very interesting theories. All very possible. The issue with Tony would be whether he has his eye on someone for a seat in 2012. If so, Kasey could be place holding for Tony. Sponsorship would be the main issue - does Hendrick sign someone who wants to sit at Stewart-Haas or does Tony get someone to come on with the idea of continuing in 2012?

  2. Interesting scenarios. I will bet the ranch that Rick and KK know very well what and where Kasey will be driving in 2011. They're just blowing smoke at NASCAR and the other teams.

  3. Annette-

    I can guarantee you that if Tony does babysit Kasey for the 2011 season, there's more in it for him than just a 3rd car in the Top 35 at the end of 2011.

  4. Gene-

    That's what I'm thinking. Both Rick and KK are too smart to sign a deal with that big of an unknown on the table.

  5. I'm hearing that Hendrick and Knaus are in negotiations for an extension, and it may be announced in the next week or so. It's possible that this may be Gordon's last rodeo, and he'd hang up the helmet. In that scenario, Kasey could end up in the #24 in 2011, Martin is signed to an extension, then he and Kasey switch cars and Martin finishes his career in the #24.

  6. The beagle has her thinking cap on! I also heard all crew chiefs are getting contracts soon with HMS and thought I saw a rumor on Twitter than MM might start is own team funded in part by HMS.

    I would really rather see Jr bring JRM up to Cup, take Budweiser back and get the dang 8 car again! Give Kasey the 88...

  7. We really don't know what is going to happen. It seems they just give you enough information to wet your lips and speculate like crazy.

  8. Just my thoughts, Perhaps KK has a contract with Budweiser that extends into the 2011 season? and I forgot what wlse I was thinking. Part of my brain is still in 'Dega

  9. This is great for conspiracies.