NASCAR 2008 Silly Season Proves to Be Silliest Yet

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst INovember 16, 2008

Silly Season. Once a three- or four-month stand where teams swapped drivers, it's now a year long event where drivers, crew members, sponsors and even car manufacturers are changed.

The year 2008 proved to be one of the most exciting Silly Seasons in NASCAR history...

Ryan Newman won the Daytona 500 before announcing he'd be leaving the struggling Penske Racing.

Reed Sorenson ended years of frustration at Chip Ganassi Racing after he decided to jump ship for '09.

Paul Menard has left a now non-existent Dale Earnhardt, Inc. with his father's big sponsorship bucks along with him.

Casey Mears was once again booted from a ride.

Mark Martin decided to give it "one more shot," saying he would come back full time next season to make a final run at the title.

Clint Bowyer will stay with Richard Childress Racing, but will he change rides?

JJ Yeley was fired by Hall of Fame Racing. Joining him in the unemployment line are the likes of Patrick Carpentier and an emerging AJ Allmendinger.

Then, there was this crazy rumor that after 10 years, 33 wins and two Cup championships that Tony Stewart would be leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to drive for and own his own team.

Oh wait...that crazy rumor came true. And Smoke began a domino effect that would change the look of this sport for the 2009 season.

Stewart will become part owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, a two-car team with sponsors like ARMY, Old Spice and Office Depot.

The other driver? Why, defending 500 winner and former USAC Rookie of the Year Ryan Newman, of course!

Martin's move to the Hendrick No. 5 sends Mears to RCR to drive the Jack Daniel's No. 07. Current driver Clint Bowyer will head to the new No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper's Chevrolet, headed by crew chief Shane Wilson.

Sorenson will replace Carpentier in GEM's No. 10, which has the US Air Force on board for only two races.

Yates Racing will add the No. 98 Menard's Ford for Paul Menard.

David Stremme will give the Cup Series another try as he replaces Newman in the No. 12. They will have sponsor Alltel for one more season.

Regan Smith will lose his No. 01 at season's end because of the DEI-Ganassi merger.  He could be in the No. 41 Target car.

Newcomer Scott Speed is a contender for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year in 2009 after taking over for AJ Allmendinger.

Kyle Petty may be out of a ride at Petty Enterprises.

Michael McDowell was rumored earlier in the season to not be getting with owner Michael Waltrip, and isn't expected back at MWR, since the No. 00 will be going to teammate David Reutimann.

Max Papis will be driving the No. 13 Toyota for Germain Racing for 18 races in '09. That entry will be sponsored by GEICO. 

Oh, and how could I forget? There's an 18-year-old kid who, after winning his first Nationwide Series race in only his third start, along with two poles in his first two, will have big shoes to fill as he replaces Stewart* in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota.

His name? Joey Logano. The so-called greatest thing since sliced bread. Yeah, we'll see.

All these changes have left the likes of Scott Riggs, Yeley, Carpentier, Petty, Smith, and Allmenginger with unknown futures.

Which means even though the checkered flag has flown over Homestead and the 2008 season, Silly Season isn't over yet...

*No Smoke, that wasn't a fat joke.