Who Will Fill The #22 Shell/Pennzoil Driver’s Seat?

A.J. Allmendinger

(WOMR file photo)

Now that A.J. Allmendinger is out of the driver’s seat of the Penske Racing #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, the race is on for filling that opening for 2013.

The word from Penske Racing is that Sam Hornish,Jr. will fill the seat of that ride for the foreseeable future.  But that term is a little vague.  Does that mean that Hornish will fill the seat for some of the Sprint Cup races, most of the races, or all of the remaining races in 2012? No matter what Penske Racing means by “the foreseeable future”, there is a demand created by that seat now being vacated via Allmendinger’s drug test failure, and indefinite NASCAR suspension.

There is no doubt that Penske Racing is offering Hornish a second chance in Sprint Cup, with this opportunity to drive the #22 Shell/Pennzoil for “the foreseeable future”.  For Hornish this is an opportunity of a lifetime that could revive his Sprint Cup career, and allow him the second chance to perform at the level that he is capable of doing.

Nevertheless, Penske Racing is the focus of most of the “silly season” talk in the garage area.  Penske Racing has stated that they would seek out the best fit for this team.  One of the drivers that is rumored to be interested in this ride is Joey Logano.  His contract with Joe Gibbs Racing is up at the end of this season.

Additionally, adding fuel to the Penske Racing fire, is the speculation is that Matt Kenseth is going over to Joe Gibbs Racing.  The even hotter rumor is that Kenseth is going to take over the #20 Home Depot Toyota, that Logano presently pilots for JGR.  The remainder of that story is that Logano would move over to a new fourth team at JGR, providing that sponsorship can be found for the new fourth team at JGR.

If, however, there can not be sponsorship found for that fourth Sprint Cup team, JGR may put Logano in a full-time Nationwide ride.  That Nationwide ride proposal, and an obvious demotion, may not be to Logano’s liking. Thereby, giving rise to the fact that Logano has mentioned to the media that he is talking to other Sprint Cup teams, to see what may be in his/Logano’s best interest.

A less likely candidate for the #22 Shell/Pennzoil ride might be Ryan Newman.  Even though he is a previous employee of Penske Racing, and his current contract with Stewart-Haas Racing ends at the end of this season, also notwithstanding the fact that the US Army is withdrawing sponsorship of the #39 SHR Chevy at the end of this season, it is very unlikely that Newman will leave SHR at this time.

In these “dog days of summer”, the speculation really heats up as to who is going where for 2013.  Therefore, it is really obvious that there will be more fuel thrown on “the silly season” fire before the race teams arrive at Homestead for the final race!

So stay tuned gang, it can only get hotter!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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