These days, Silly Season doesn't just involve drivers. And it doesn't wait until late summer to start, either.
Scene Daily is reporting that Shell/Pennzoil is likely to leave Richard Childress Racing at the end of this season and will jump to Penske to sponsor Kurt Busch. And that sets in motion all kinds of dominos:
• Kurt Busch. The 2004 champion and last year's fourth-place driver is at the end of his current contract. He has signed a multi-year extension and will now vacate the No. 2 to drive the No. 22 with Shell/Penzoil as his sponsor.
• Brad Keselowski. Jet Ski drives the No. 12 Verizon Dodge, but Verizon can't display its logo because of Sprint. Keselowski will jump into the vacated No. 2 car with Lite Beer as his sponsor.
• Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1, Sam Hornish Jr.'s sponsor, will end its relationship with Penske following the 2010 season. So where does that leave Hornish? Team owner Roger Penske has said that this was a make-or-break year for Hornish, and so far, the former Indy 500 champ and three-time IRL champion is sitting in 29th place in the standings.
• Kevin Harvick. As good a driver as Harvick is, he still needs a top-flight sponsor if he's to go anywhere but RCR. Does this close the door on him leaving Childress? Could he lure Budweiser to his side?
Clearly, many drivers are going to be looking vastly different on the track next year -- if they're there at all. The danger is that the departure of sponsors or the lockdown of marquee drivers will mean fewer sponsorship available, and the game of musical car chairs could leave more than one driver watching rather than racing in 2011.