Yates/Petty Merger Exposes More Drivers to Rideless Future

James BroomheadAnalyst ISeptember 13, 2009

DOVER, DE - MAY 31: Jamie McMurray, driver of the #26 Crown Royal Ford leads Elliott Sadler, driver of the #19 Stanley Tools Dodge during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 31, 2009 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Last week, almost silently, the Yates Racing team and Richard Petty Motorsport reported they were to merge into a single four car team for 2010.

This is nothing new. These days mergers and co-operative efforts are all the rage in NASCAR.

Yates already has a tie in with Roush Racing and with Hall of Fame Racing for the running of the No. 96 car. RPM, on the other hand, has already been through one complete merge, having blended with Ray Evernham’s efforts for this season, resulting in the four car team that this year has run cars for Reed Sorenson, A.J. Allmendinger, Elliott Sadler, and Kasey Kahne.

The announcement of the new merged team also came with an announcement of the four drivers who will pilot the Fords they will run.

Kahne, Sadler, and Allmendinger will join from RPM, while Paul Menard (and his daddy’s money) will come in from Yates’ existing team.

With the announcement, all eyes were on the odd ones out. Hall of Fame look to be out on their own again, and Reed Sorenson is the sole RPM driver to find himself without a ride in the new team, and judging by talk at Richmond over the weekend, for 2010 at all as yet.

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However, the real odd man out may have escaped notice.

Jamie McMurray.

We all know that Roush has to trim their five car effort to four over the offseason as per NASCAR’s rule. And we all know (barring a massive turn around) that it’s McMurray who will be shown the door.

Knowing this for months whenever quips of questions flew surrounding McMurray’s future, just about everyone was saying he would be let out by Roush in name only.

Everyone expected Roush to continue, if not increase its interest in Yates’ operation and install McMurray in the team.

And that might still happen—Roush increasing it’s interest in the new team running Fords. But McMurray won’t (or can’t as it appears) be there, as with four drivers already named they are limited by the same rule that puts Jamie out at Roush.

So, where can Jamie McMurray go?

More than ever there are a dwindling number of open competitive rides, and still the same number of drivers looking to fill them.

You can point, as many have, at the seat Martin Truex Jr. is vacating at Earnhardt-Ganassi (oh, look another merged team), and he may well go there (although personally I’d like to Aric Almirola given a fighting chance for the seat). And then what else is there?

Not much.

And Jamie McMurray is only one name looking for a ride.

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