Race Weekend Central

Bowles-Eye View: A Quick List of NASCAR Changes for 2010

Back in the ’90s, Sheryl Crow used to have this catchy song when I was a teenager called “A Change Would Do You Good.”

Apparently, someone up in the NASCAR tower’s been listening.

Coming off a Media Tour where the focus was on righting some wrongs and fixing every conceivable problem in sight, the 2010 season is already chock full of news two weeks before heading to Speedweeks. But in this era of Twitter, Facebook and instant gratification, we’d all be remiss to assume every NASCAR fan has been rabidly following the offseason tidbits like paparazzi trying to sniff out Lindsay Lohan.

Most of you are lucky enough to enjoy a well-balanced life, and after a difficult 2009 you took the offseason to be with family, friends and anything that didn’t involve cars driving around in a circle and the words “Hendrick” or “Jimmie Johnson.” Heck, Frontstretch itself even took a month-long hiatus: the first time in four years we’ve gone that long about a story.

So, as we get back online and prepare for 2010, here’s a quick refresher on some basic news to bring those out of the loop back up to speed. For while Silly Season wasn’t as crazy as it usually is, there’s still plenty of changes in the driver’s seat and on top of the pit box for 2010. Let’s run down the list so you’re up to date:

Jamie McMurray: When Roush finally cut down from five teams to four, complying (or should I say circumventing? But we’ll get to that) NASCAR’s new rules, Jamie found himself on the outside looking in. A free agent for most of the summer, he spent months convincing Bass Pro Shops he could hawk products he never uses before they finally waved the white flag – making him the newest driver of the No. 1 car for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

See also
2009 NASCAR Driver Review: Jamie McMurray

Reunited with the owner (Chip Ganassi) that gave him his first Cup ride and two near-Chase runs in 2004 and 2005, he hopes to recapture the magic that once made him one of the sport’s top prospects. And if he doesn’t, he’ll be an also-ran searching for a job at Bass Pro Shops himself. Speaking of also-rans, McMurray replaced the struggling…

Martin Truex Jr.: Who had reached also-ran status after two frustrating years of mediocre runs in the No. 1. No longer holding “top dawg” honors at a merged organization that featured Juan Pablo Montoya, Truex jumped at the chance to replace Michael Waltrip behind the wheel of the NAPA Toyota. He’ll drive a newly-renumbered No. 56 in honor of his dad, while Waltrip will run a part-time schedule in a No. 51 that’s a subtle reminder of his glory days with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Manning the pit box for Truex will be…

Pat Tryson: Who tired of two years of constant berating over the radio by Kurt Busch while running the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. That’s ironic, because who did Kurt find to replace Tryson but his brother’s former crew chief, Steve Addington. Apparently, that man’s a glutton for verbal abuse, although compared to Kyle Kurt might be a piece of cake to him. Their chemistry and how quickly it mixes will prove the difference between championship contention or simple Chase retention this season.

Of course, Steve’s not the only new face at Penske Racing these days. The new third driver is…

Brad Keselowski: Has been working hard in the offseason to help get the No. 12 Dodge back up to speed. He’ll be sponsored by a certain cellphone company that’s shelling out millions to Penske this season. It’s not on the car, but I’ll give you a clue: It rhymes with “Horizon.” I’d say more, but I don’t want to give it away; after all, Sprint naively assumes that if it’s not on the No. 12, people will magically forget it exists. Even if the network has better 4G coverage than they do, but I digress… and if you didn’t laugh at that paragraph, hey, at least you can take comfort I didn’t make an Extenze joke about…

Kevin Conway: He’s a rookie that has no Sprint Cup experience and only 25 starts in the sport’s Nationwide and Truck series divisions. But he’ll be guaranteed to run the distance with sponsorship, which is something we can’t say for sure with the series’ other freshman contender…

See also
An Unlikely Battle for NASCAR Rookie of the Year

Terry Cook: Running a new, offshoot operation from K-Automotive called Whitney Motorsports, Cook doubles as both driver and GM, and may have to make the difficult decision to start-and-park himself in the interests of cash flow. Of course, as always his own paycheck won’t be affected under this scenario as the dreaded era of start-and-park just keeps going and going like the Energizer Bunny. Sadly, the most difficult of these situations could involve champ…

Bobby Labonte: Who only has a 12-race deal from TaxSlayer.com with the No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet. Still looking for funding for all 36 races, the team is trying hard to give the 2000 champ everything he could ask for in an underdog operation. Speaking of underdogs…

Aric Almirola: Was a longshot to get another shot at a Cup ride after an awful stint driving the No. 8 for the former Dale Earnhardt Inc. But single-car owner James Finch reached out and gave him a chance, making a deal for him to drive the Miccosukee car in all 36 races while he’s running a full Truck Series schedule on the side. That’s actually more than…

Casey Mears: Can say, as the one-time driver for superteams Hendrick, Ganassi and Childress has now been forced to accept a sponsorless ride with Keyed Up Motorsports for 2010. He’ll be running the No. 90 while Almirola is running the No. 09… amazing how situations can flip on a dime during the offseason, isn’t it? But running on a dime is what…

Front Row Motorsports: Is all about, making the most of their limited budget by planning three full-time cars this year. Travis Kvapil will drive the No. 34, while Conway’s plopped in the No. 37 and Robert Richardson Jr. and David Gilliland will share the No. 38 car. It’s not exactly Yates-type equipment for Gilliland (which isn’t saying much these days) but he’ll make do, as former employer Yates merges with…

Richard Petty Motorsports: The team will actually keep its name and run four Fords, becoming the Roush “B” team while AJ Allmendinger drives the famed No. 43. That brings the Roush-supported clan to eight fully-funded efforts, enough to combat the “Hendrick Six” for overall supremacy in the “Trying To Take Over The Entire 43-Car Field Sweepstakes” Sprint Cup ownership and supply has become.

So there you are, a list of changes for 2010 minus Mike Bliss moving over to start-and-park special Tommy Baldwin Racing (although they plan to run the distance to start the year). But as you might notice, the drivers aren’t the only ones changing around here. As Frontstretch starts its 12th year, take note of some exciting new things headed your way…

A New Design. As you read this, the site’s undergoing a massive web redesign that takes effect by the end of the day tomorrow. Don’t be shy to let us know what you think! The goals were to make it easy for you to find the articles and the columnists you know and love while actually adding a little color along with some bells and whistles to a growing website. We hope you like it!

New Writers. A tough ending for NASCAR Scene’s daily publication has meant a new beginning for many. During that process, we’ve been lucky enough to pick up Jared Turner, who covered the Media Tour for us and will start writing once a week – and then some – starting Feb. 2. Brock Beard is another name you might know; the former blogger of the 43rd-place finisher will be writing about the NASCAR underdogs for us this season.

Former Hardcore Race Fans’ writer Jay Pennell is the third new member of our crew and we expect to add at least 3-4 more (and one more big name) as the 2010 season begins in earnest. Keep your eyes peeled!

Same Old Opinions. Just remember, a new look and a big expansion won’t mean our site loses its edge. Matt McLaughlin will be back with his race recaps and interesting takes on the state of the sport, and you’ve got the same hard-nosed reporting from veterans Amy Henderson, Bryan Davis Keith, Phil Allaway, me and so many more.

Yes, 2010 is bound to be a season filled with change… but as ol’ Sheryl liked to Crow about back in the day, we hope it’s gonna do you, the reader, a whole lot of good.

About the author

The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.

You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.

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