COMMENTARY | NASCAR's "Silly Season" seems to start earlier and earlier each year, which makes it difficult to remember who is in what car for which team year in and year out. Here's a quick look at some of the changes and some of the debuts that will be made in NASCAR's top three series before the 2014 season kicks off with Budweiser Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.
New faces at SHR - Speaking of Budweiser, Kevin Harvick takes his primary sponsor to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, driving the No. 4 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series. Harvick, co-team owner/driver Tony Stewart in the No. 14 and Danica Patrick in the No. 10 will be joined by Kurt Busch in the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet.
Two Truex - With Kurt Busch's Furniture Row Racing ride vacated, Martin Truex Jr., who was released by Michael Waltrip Racing after sponsor NAPA left the team, moved into the No. 78 Chevy. Don't blink during the early season races, because there will be a second Truex racing in the Cup Series: younger brother Ryan Truex will make a run for the Rookie of the Year Award in the No. 83 of BK Racing.
Great rookie race - Ryan Truex isn't the only driver looking for the RotY title - he's got plenty of company in what could be one of the best rookie classes ever. Austin Dillon returns the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 to the Cup Series, while open-wheel standout Kyle Larson continues his trek to the top of the stock car ladder as Juan Pablo Montoya's replacement in the No. 42 Target Chevy at Chip Ganassi Racing (Montoya heads to the IndyCar Series with Team Penske).Truex is joined by Alex Bowman in the No. 23 at BK Racing, while Justin Allgaier (No. 51), Michael Annett (No. 7), Parker Kligerman (No. 30) and Cole Whitt (No. 26) also have their hats in the rookie ring.
Newman to RCR - With Stewart thinking he couldn't support a fourth team (before co-owner Haas thought otherwise), Ryan Newman was the odd man out at SHR. He didn't remain on the sidelines for long however: with Jeff Burton leaving full-time racing to prepare for a job in broadcasting, Richard Childress picked Newman as his replacement in the No. 31 Chevrolet.
Changes at TBR - With Annett bringing sponsorship in the form of Pilot/Flying J to Tommy Baldwin Racing, Dave Blaney's days in the No. 7 were numbered. So he went out and doubled down: Blaney will race the No. 77 Ford for Randy Humphrey in the Cup Series, a return to a number from Blaney's past (remember the blue Jasper No. 77?). J.J. Yeley is out at TBR as well, replaced in the No. 36 by Reed Sorenson.
Other Cup Series changes - A.J. Allmendinger lands in the No. 47 Chevy for JTG Daugherty, replacing Bobby Labonte, while Brian Vickers, pending doctor's clearance, returns full-time to the Cup Series in the No. 55 Aaron's Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Nationwide and Truck notables - Blaney's son Ryan will be busy in 2014, competing full-time in the Camping World Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing, racing 12 times in the Nationwide Series for Team Penske and making at least two Cup Series starts for Penske. MWR's lost NAPA sponsorship heads to the Nationwide Series with another young driver, Chase Elliott, son of 1988 champ Bill Elliott, who teams up with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports for a rookie run in the No. 9 Chevy in that series. He'll have competition from Ty Dillon, who takes over Austin's No. 3 Chevrolet Nationwide Series ride after spending the last two seasons in the Truck Series. Brendan Gaughan joins Dillon at RCR, also moving up from the Truck Series, in the No. 62 Chevy.
Paula is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in motorsports. She also covers NASCAR at Examiner.com and Skirts & Scuffs.
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