This year in Nextel Cup we have seen some of the biggest moves in the sport in the past two to three years. Those being the move from Nextel Cup to Sprint Cup, which takes effect starting in the 2008 season, Dale Jr’s, move over the Hendrick Motorsports and Kyle Busch’s move to Gibbs racing. All three moves are huge in one way or another but will all of them be successful moves?
The most noticeable move that will take effect next year will be the name change to Sprint Cup. NASCAR had Nextel as its top running series name since 2004 but since the latest acquisitions from AT&T, Sprint, Cingular and so on. There have a few different lawsuits involving those groups and NASCAR. The reason of the switch over to Sprint is because of Sprint and Nextel coming together and it was discussed for ages how the name in NASCAR would be affected and now we will be seeing yet another name change. Even Jeff Burtons sponsor of Cingular had to be changed to AT&T since they merged with Cingular months ago.
The big question is whether or not the name change will really affect the sport or not? Sprint is still a very popular name and product so you will still be seeing popularity around NASCAR and Sprint. If the name were changed to something like the Wal-Mart Cup for example, yeah there would be a lot of people unhappy with the name and could cause a different view onto the sport in general. Name changes are a big deal but there really isn’t a massive change between Sprint and Nextel since they are both phone providers. I think the change itself will have very little effect on the sport next season.
The move everyone knows about and is looking forward the most to would be Jr’s trip over to Hendrick Motorsports next season. Of course everyone knows about the massive rival between Gordon and Earnhardt fans so it should be pretty fun to watch next season how they mix. This will most likely be a long-term thing so everyone needs to learn to get along. Although that might pass at some point, the big question is whether or not he will be competitive or not. Honestly, he should be very competitive.
Everyone knows he can win races and contend for championships but his equipment from D.E.I. the past years have not been all that great. Hendrick Motorsports has very good stuff along with very good drivers so we all know the stuff will be there for Jr next year. I definitely feel he will be more competitive next year plus he doesn’t wreck half as many cars as Kyle Busch does so I say look for Jr to be a top runner next year. Maybe not dominate but he will definitely be winning some races. Next year Jr will be joining Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and Casey Mears.
The other major move was Kyle Busch heading to Gibbs racing. Kyle Busch is a very competitive driver and he can win races but the question is how good the 18 car he’s heading to next year. Back in the years around 1999 and 2000 it was a very good team with Bobby Labonte as the driver but over the past years they have slowly gone down hill. J.J Yeley is a good driver but I just think that the team is not quite up to par right now. It’s hard to say whether or not Kyle Busch will be very competitive out of the box or not. It might take him a year to get use to his new team but at some point I think they can be a top running team. More likely 2009 when you will see Kyle Busch a top contender again but I could be wrong. Next year Busch will be joining Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart.