Getting Sillier

There was a time when the term "Silly Season" meant something.

Not any more.

Drivers changing teams, sponsors switching allegiances or organizations adding new colors to their cars have always generated a great deal of interest within the sport. There was a time when anticipation of the coming year would begin in late Fall as new partnerships and plans for the following season began to become public.

But that timeline has been pushed further and further back in recent years and it wasn't uncommon to hear announcements for the following season in July. As companies went through the process of earmarking dollars to spend on NASCAR sponsorships, decisions have been forced to be made much earlier.

However we've now reached a point of near ridiculousness with what's gone down in the last few days and "Silly Season" has truly become a 365 day, 24/7 endeavor.

Kasey Kahne's impending move from Richard Petty Motorsports to Hendrick Motorsports that broke last week was only the tip of the iceberg. Shell/Pennzoil's bolt from Richard Childress Racing to Penske Racing has set off a chain reaction that has now engulfed four or five teams and at least a half dozen drivers' futures.

And rather than putting the focus on track, all these business maneuverings have once again forced fans to take their eye off the product.

The earliness of these moves has also taken away a rather important element of the sport and the annual waiting game of finding out what was in store for the following season has been taken away. Those late season press conferences and glimpses of cars decked out in new colors that would debut the following February at Speedweeks are now a thing of the past and I for one will miss that feeling of anticipation.

Here we are with 28 races left in THIS season and the talk has shifted to 2011 and beyond. The ramifications have also put several people in some tense positions including Childress, who now must find a replacement sponsor for his No. 29 car while trying to keep Harvick, a free agent at the end of the year, in the fold; Harvick who has a lame duck sponsor; Kahne who is with a lame duck team; and Hornish Jr., who despite the assurances of boss Roger Penske that he will be back with the team in 2011 does not have a sponsor with the defection of Mobil1 from Penske racing in the wake of Shell-Pennzoil coming on board.

I wonder what the over/under is on how many times Childress, Harvick, Kahne, Hornish, Penske and Tony Stewart - whose team is still being served up as a likely destination for one or perhaps two drivers next year - will be asked about their futures in the coming weeks? It's pressure all don't need particularly when the focus should be on performance this racing season.

The economic world has no doubt necessitated this shift and doing business in the world of NASCAR is about as complicated as its ever been. I think it's cost the sport some more of its tradition but unfortunately there isn't much anyone can do to stop it.

I guess on the bright side it keeps the folks who manufacturer collectibles in business.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2010

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