A few weeks ago, a couple of reports said Bobby Labonte was signed, sealed and delivered to the fourth team Richard Childress Racing. It made sense because RCR had signed General Mills, Labonte's current sponsor on the 43 car at Petty Enterprises, as the new cars sponsor.
But today, AP is reporting that Labonte has agreed to an extension with Petty Enterprises. Neither Labonte or officials with Petty confirmed the report.
I'm thinking that this will bear out and Labonte will remain with Petty. So just who will man the seat of the fourth RCR car?
Carl Edwards came off the market Friday, and if you believe Greg Biffle, he has every intention of re-signing with Roush as well, going so far as to say he's not even looking elsewhere.
I can believe it. RCR is probably the only team that can offer him an immediate chance to win besides Roush. But if he switched teams, he'd be under the gun the first five races to qualify on speed. I don't think that's a position he wants to be in because you can never account for weather. Unless the money is absolutely out of this world -- and I don't think it would be for Biffle's services -- he's in the best situation he can be in right now.
Now I gotta believe that Tony Stewart is at the very top of RCR's wish list. I think RCR is in a good position to offer him an intriguing package, but I'm sure Stewart will have plenty of similar offers. And there's also the little problem of whether Gibbs would let him out of his ride early. So while Stewart is intriguing, there are several hoops to jump through.
The next best free-agent on the market is Ryan Newman. He has been linked to RCR in past rumors. Despite his Daytona 500 victory, he hasn't had the season he'd hoped for thus far. He has been with Penske for his entire nine-year Cup career, so there's some loyalty there, but a change of scenery might do him well just like it did Jeff Burton. He'd have to qualify on speed the first five races. But barring weather, that wouldn't be much of a problem for him because he's one of the best qualifiers in the series.
If Childress were to go a little younger that could put a driver like Reed Sorenson into the mix. Ganassi hasn't kept secret his disappointment with all his Cup teams' results this season. It's not that I think Ganassi wants to get rid of Sorenson, but if things don't turn around, he definitely could go in a different direction. I'm not quite sure where Sorenson's contract stands. He could choose to leave of his own volition and if RCR offers him a deal he should jump. Though I know they're working hard there, Ganassi Racing still has yet to show it's a top tier Cup operation.
David Ragan could be a target if Roush drags his feet while trying to decide who should stay between him and Jamie McMurray with the four-team limit nearing. Accoding to Jayski, Ragan's contract is up at the end of the year as is sponsor AAA. So the Roush operation has a lot of contract details to work out.
Scott Wimmer is doing part-time work for RCR in the Nationwide Series and select Cup races. Considering the lack of a full-time Nationwide ride for Wimmer, I don't see him getting a full-time Cup gig.