another part of the Silly Season, or is Andretti
headed to Ganassi next year?
Photo by Dodge/Allsport
It seems that
nowadays NASCAR’s Silly Season is in full swing almost all
year long. However, there are times when rumors are fueled
by impending announcements by either NASCAR or by the race
teams. This week is a classic example of the rumor mill in
overdrive. The culprit this time is the Petty Enterprises
media announcement scheduled for 3:30 p.m. this Saturday, at
Richmond. Rumors on the announcement have ranged from a
change in drivers, to a reduction in the number of Petty
race teams, to a new major sponsorship, and everything in
Silly Season is so intense that it makes it more difficult
for drivers to concentrate on the work at hand. But the
drivers also know that the Silly Season has been around a
long time and that you have to work around it. As Kyle Petty
says, "I’m like everyone else. You try not to pay any
attention to the rumors and stuff that keep flying around
the garage but you just can’t help yourself sometimes. Hey,
I believe this sport was pretty much built on rumors. Those
are some of the things that make each day so interesting
around the garage.
one recent issue that has fueled many rumors involved the
decision by Ricky Rudd to switch over to the Woods Brothers
for the 2003 season. "The stuff that has gone on this year
is nothing new. It’s the same thing that’s been going on
forever. Some years the talk is a little more intense and
some years not quite as intense, but it’s always going on. I
think since you had a pretty big name like Ricky Rudd in the
mix and you had top rides like the one at Robert Yates and
the one with the Wood Brothers open, it made the talk this
year even more intense.
To some of the
drivers and Winston Cup insiders, the Silly Season takes on
a comical aspect: "Remember that game you played as a kid at
birthday parties - ‘Gossip?’ One person whispers something
to another person, and then they whisper it to the third and
one down the line. The game ends when the last person
announces what he had heard, and it usually doesn’t compare
to what started.
"We play that
game every week in the Winston Cup garage, except we tend to
play a higher version. Not only is it, ‘I hear somebody is
going to drive for so-and-so,’ but it takes the step of
filling the position rumored to be open. That way your
gossip doesn’t just involve one driver or crew chief and
team, but two drivers and two teams. Driver A is going to
Team B and, from what I hear, Driver C is going to Team A.
It’s nuts sometimes!
"We’re going to
make an announcement Saturday afternoon at Richmond. That’s
a good example. Hearing what people think we’re going to
announce or hearing what people think we’re doing, some of
it is pretty funny. Some of it might be kind of close. Some
of it is absolutely outrageous.
You would think
that people in the racing business would not have a lot of
spare time to be cooking up ideas about what’s going to
happen in the future. Well, that may be true in most
instances, but Kyle explains how the weather may have
something to do with it: "You know the one thing that makes
‘Silly Season’ move the fastest? Rain. The talk really
started to pick up this past weekend at Darlington. Nobody
did anything Friday (rain canceled all track activities),
and then there was a lot of down time Saturday. So everybody
sat around and talked, and came up with stuff. So much of it
starts with ‘You know, I bet this happens,’ and next thing
you know, people are saying it is going to happen.
Speculation becomes fact pretty fast here.
many of the rumors will be put to rest, at least for the
time being. "We feel we have a pretty significant thing or
two to say Saturday, and that race fans - and the media and
the rest of the garage - are going to want to know what we
had to say. And it should make our plans clearer. You’re
going to hear a lot of different ideas of what it might be
and what we might say but, you know what? Nobody knows for
sure until Saturday. Finally making the announcement ends
it. That’s the only way to stop rumors.”
You go Kyle!
Don’t be afraid to tell us Saturday about how you’re going
to drop one of your three race teams. Or about how Georgia
Pacific is being replaced by some mega-communications
corporation. Or how John Andretti has found his way over to
Chip Ganassi’s camp. Or how………well, you get the picture.
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