Out With The Old

A flurry of driver changes this week during the final break in the NEXTEL Cup Series schedule has put several veteran drivers in the headlines, and not all for positive reasons.

Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek unexpectedly found themselves on the unemployment line when Ginn Racing decided to shake-up its stable.

The two veteran drivers were released in favor of a pair of youngsters, with Ginn shifting Regan Smith from a part-time role on the team's No. 01 ride to full-time status in the No. 14, previously piloted by Marlin.

Aric Armirola was signed when he was granted his release from Joe Gibbs Racing and will be shifted into the part-time slot with Mark Martin on the No. 01.

The shuffling left both Marlin and Nemechek surprised to say the least.

"I talked to (Ginn Racing CEO) Jay Frye at Daytona," Marlin told Dave Moody of the "Sirius Speedway" radio program. "He said, `everything’s fine,’ but it obviously wasn’t. They called me late (Monday) and told me what was going on, and it caught me by surprise. They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do, but I have a valid contract with them. As long as they do everything they say they’re going to do (contractually), everything’s going to be fine."

But things weren't fine and only a week later, Marlin - who was 29th in the NEXTEL Cup Series point standings - was given his pink slip.

"You can read between the lines," Marlin told Moody. "I can look in the mirror and know I done everything right. That’s not the case on the other side, and I’ll just leave it at that."

Marlin may wind up in a team car at either BAM Racing, Morgan-McClure or Furniture Row Racing several sources have reported, but sponsorship will determine any of those possibilities.

Nemechek has struggled all year in the Ginn No. 13 entry, which will cease operating until Ginn decides its future.

Although the No. 13 is 34th in the points, and has a guaranteed starting spot at the next race in Indianapolis, the number can't be sold to another team, NASCAR pointed out this week.

His release cast Nemechek into the free agent pool, but early indications are there hasn't been much interest in "Front Row Joe" from the potential suitors who will have open seats in 2008.

"I still definitely want to be driving in the Cup Series," Nemechek told Florida's Lakeland Ledger. "I know I can still win races," Nemechek said. "I know what I'm capable of doing and I know the NASCAR family out there, the team is very close and they know who can get the job done and who can't."

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