Who Will Be New No. 1 at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing?

Evan OslundContributor IJune 23, 2009

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 03:  Aric Almirola, driver of the #8 Guitar Hero Metallica Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 3, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

If you've read my last article, you see that I fully anticipate Martin Truex, Jr. leaving Earnhardt-Ganassi for greener pastures over at Michael Waltrip Racing.  

So this move leaves the No. 1 car open, with majority sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops.  

I've heard talk that Bass Pro could leave and follow Truex wherever he goes. This doesn't seem feasible.

Bass Pro Shops is signed as a sponsor through 2010, with a 2011 option.

The feel-good story for everybody would be the resurrection of the No. 8, which I see happening regardless, with Aric Almirola behind the wheel.

This would make the most sense, considering Almirola knows the shop, knows the cars, knows the people, knows the races, knows the organization, knows the other drivers, knows the pressure, knows the...

You get my point.

But will Bass Pro be ready and willing to sponsor an up-and-comer like Almirola?

God, do I hope so. I think everybody hopes so.

Almirola is a very likable guy, with a lot of prowess about him. He has tremendous potential and will drive the wheels off anything you give him, and he is of Cuban decent, giving NASCAR another international man, oddly enough on the same team. 

With solid sponsorship and a committed team behind him, he is poised for a break-out season.

Another option is the reincarnated-from-my-last-article Bryan Clauson, who races midget cars after his ousting from Ganassi at the beginning of this year.

But does Clauson want to go back racing for Ganassi?

After Chip promised him a full-time ride in the Nationwide series in 2009 with sponsorship for a run at a title, Ganassi and DEI merged, showing the pink slip to Clauson, as well as Kyle Krisiloff, when the whole Nationwide team folded at the beginning of this year.

But to be honest with you, I wouldn't turn down a fully sponsored Cup ride while I'm trying to rebuild my status as a racer in it's highest form. 

Also, back to Bass Pro.  Would they be willing throw their dollars at a virtually untested 21-year-old driver at NASCAR's highest level? That's virtually unheard of!

Oh wait, The Home Depot already did that.   

So strange things can always happen...

While these two seem like the most feasible choices, Ganassi could go with a veteran to keep the sponsors happy and to keep the cars in tact until GM rebuilds itself.

Hello Elliott Sadler.

And now, my prediction for who will drive the No. 8 at EGR in 2010:

Aric Almirola.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have enjoyed your stay.