The 2011 season may bring turmoil for some in the garage area.
The 2011 NASCAR season may be three months away, but already there's some sense of the stories people will be watching as the year kicks off at Daytona International Speedway in February.
Come Daytona, there will already be plenty of questions for drivers concerning their futures, and some questions we have right now may be answered.
Here's a look at some drivers who could be looking for greener pastures after the green flag flies for the 53rd running of the Great American Race.
The drum beat for changes at Hendrick Morotsports may get louder in 2011.
For Dale Earnhardt Jr., every year seems to bring change at Hendrick Motorsports.
The pressure from Junior Nation is mounting for something to give. Some of his fans even want Hendrick Motorsports to release him, implying that he can never win there.
It's a long way from his 2007 news conference announcing the move to Hendrick for '08, which many believed would signal the return to championship contention. It hasn't happened.
As of today, there are no plans beyond Hendrick Motorsports for Junior, and no plans to move his Nationwide Series operation to Cup when his contract is up for renewal in 2012.
Without a future plan, the release that Junior Nation pleads for is an end unto itself. There's nowhere to go.
The shuffle at Hendrick next season to make room for the arrival of Kasey Kahne may open up a new opportunity for driver 88.
Mark Martin will surrender No. 5 car to Kasey Kahne in 2012.
Mark Martin knows he'll be on the clock in 2011, and that's not just in qualifying.
Kasey Kahne will be waiting at Red Bull Racing through the 2011 season to jump in the cockpit of the No. 5 car in 2012.
Martin has said that he'll drive somewhere in 2012, but to date he hasn't announced any plans beyond Hendrick.
As 2011 cranks up, all eyes will be on Mark Martin, as he mulls over his future plans.
Danica Patrick may have to make a decision about her career path in 2011.
2011 will mark season two of the Danica Patrick NASCAR experiment.
She'll only be able to progress so far in the stock car world while she splits time between her IndyCar commitments and NASCAR. As 2011 comes to a close, we could see Danica make a choice between driving with fenders or returning to open wheel for good.
From a business and marketing standpoint, NASCAR seems the logical choice, as it is the most popular form of motorsports in America.
However, she may need to look in the mirror and decide if she thinks she can be successful in NASCAR. Ultimately, her performance on the track will have to dictate her viability as a star in NASCAR.
Sam Hornish Jr. is another open wheel star who cold be taking a look at his stock car adventure.
Sam Hornish Jr. hasn't set the world on fire in a stock car, but says he's committed to staying in NASCAR.
The sponsorship shuffle moved Shell Pennzoil to Penske from Richard Childress Racing, squeezing Mobil out as sponsor on Hornish's No. 77 car.
There's been no sponsorship announcement yet, and Roger Penske has said that he has every intention to continue to field a car for Hornish in 2011.
In today's economic climate, finding sponsorship for a full season for a less-than-marquee name could be a daunting task.
Hornish could be forced to either look for a new ride in NASCAR or reconsider his refusal to return to IndyCar, where he enjoyed success in the past.
Marcos Ambrose may be losing stability in his move to RPM for 2011.
Marcos Ambrose has the potential to be a star. He's affable and can drive a race car like he stole it.
The trouble is he may not have a car to drive at some point.
At the end of the 2010 season, Ambrose leaves JTG Daugherty Racing and heads for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Over the last couple of weeks, RPM has reached critical mass, and there are some doubts that the team will have enough funding to make it to the end of the season.
Ambrose has a deal lined up to drive for RPM with Stanley Tools as the sponsor for an unspecified number of races, but it seems like there's at least a possibility that the deal might never become reality.
Elliott Sadler will be dealing with uncertainty as 2011 approaches.
As RPM's fate goes, so goes the fate of Elliott Sadler.
His sponsor, Stanley Tools, goes to Ambrose next year, as the team may have to contract due to limited funding.
Richard Petty may be trying to secure investors to keep the team afloat, but no matter what happens the team may concentrate its energy on Marcos Ambrose and emerging star A.J. Allmendinger.
Sadler is seemingly hedging his bets, becoming more and more visible in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, piloting entries fielded by Kevin and DeLana Harvick.
It may be a good shot for Sadler to go there and compete full time for a title, since it seems there may be some limitations on full-time Cup drivers coming in and gunning for the Nationwide Championship.
The Harvicks have shown a reluctance to develop new drivers, and instead have concentrated on giving experienced hands the quality equipment to win.
Elliott Sadler could be your Nationwide Champ for 2011.
Robby Gordon is pinning his sponsorship future to his personal energy drink.
Robby Gordon and Kevin Conway have split time in Robby Gordon Motorsports' No. 7 Toyota.
Before Talladega, Gordon announced the debut of his own energy drink, which he hopes will generate new sponsorship possibilities headed into next season.
Gordon has announced that he only plans to run a few races next year, which will make him a go or go home driver unless he can get the funding to run more races with other drivers.
If the SPEED Energy Drink can't find a place in a crowded energy drink marketplace, Robby Gordon's 2011 effort may run out of gas.
Brian Vickers may hold the key to many 2011 plans.
Brian Vickers says he's been cleared by his doctors to return to the cockpit in 2011, but he has yet to receive clearance from NASCAR for next season.
His future has implications all the way around at Red Bull Racing, where Kasey Kahne is in place for 2011 while he waits on his ride at Hendrick Motorsports.
There's a lot of uncertainty, as it's not clear yet what will happen with Vickers' driving career if the clots return once he is taken off the blood thinners used to treat the condition that took him out of the car earlier this year.
Scott Speed could be out at Red Bull Racing if Brian Vickers returns.
Scott Speed finds himself in an unenviable position. His future with his team could be linked to the well-being of his teammate.
If Brian Vickers is cleared to race in 2011, there may not be room at Red Bull Racing for him since the other seat will be occupied by one-year interloper Kasey Kahne.
It's conceivable that Red Bull could go to three cars next year, since this situation is awkward at best.
As of now, there are no firm plans at all for Speed in 2011 because nobody knows what is going to happen with Vickers yet. There's also the question of what to do should Vickers have some sort of recurrence of the clots that sidelined him: if there are just two cars and Speed is out, does a downturn in Vickers' future let Speed back in the door?
David Ragan is set for 2011, but the future isn't quite as secure.
David Ragan has the potential to be a star in NASCAR that old school fans would like.
For a younger driver, he has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the sport, and that goes a long way with longtime fans who look for an appreciation of the sport's past.
Ragan is signed and delivered for 2011, with UPS on board as a sponsor.
His performance has been hit-and-miss, at times looking like he has it figured out and at other times being the weak link at Roush Fenway.
If Roush doesn't resign Ragan next season, he could be a promising free agent for 2012.