It seems like it wasn’t all that long ago that NASCAR’s silly season—the time period during which drivers moved to new teams to prepare for the upcoming season—was basically the NASCAR offseason. The racing season went from mid-February to mid-November, and silly season was mid-November to sometime in January. The race season still runs February to November, but silly season seems to be a nearly year-around phenomenon anymore.
Nowadays, it’s not at all unusual for a driver to make an “official” announcement around midseason that he’ll be going elsewhere the following year. When a team knows that a driver’s not going to be around much longer, does his impending departure and/or the team’s uncertain future make for a distraction for the remainder of the current season? Does a driver just kind of slack off or not really put his heart into it for the remainder of the current year, because he knows he’ll be heading out the door come season’s end?
If knowing a driver is on his way out is, indeed, a distraction to a race team, possibly no team is feeling the pain more than Richard Petty Motorsports. After all, of the team’s current stable of four drivers, only one—A.J. Allmendinger—will be back for 2011.
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