It's the most interesting debate in NASCAR. What driver will Jack Roush move to Yates Racing in 2010, when NASCAR forces Jack to trim a team.
The whole "Trimming Team" thing is very bias anyway. Punishing Jack Roush for playing by the rules. Punishing Jack Roush for NASCAR's mistakes is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my 15 years of watching NASCAR. To me, Jack should have been grandfathered in. All his hard work and determination has propelled his organization to five teams. If he lost the fifth team and wanted to expand, and you put your foot down, That's fine. But having a guy lose a team is unfair. In my opinion, every owner should trim down their teams.
However, rules are rules. Unfortuatly, Jack has to trim down to four teams starting in 2010. The big debate is who? Who will it be? Let's examine the situation.
Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Greg Biffle all signed multi-year deals to keep themselves at Roush Fenway Racing for years to come.
That leaves two drivers. Jamie McMurray, who is in his final year of his contract at Roush Fenway, and David Ragan, who is in the same boat.
McMurray came over to Roush Fenway with high expectations. Many so called "experts" thought that McMurray would really come into his own with excellent equiptment behind him, after leaving Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in 2005 where he finished 12th in the points. All looked great for McMurray. However, things haven't panned out as well as everyone thought.
McMurray has struggled in his three and a half year stint with Jack, and only has one win, the 2007 Pepsi 400, to his resume. In three years, McMurray hasn't made the chase and this year was looking to be another "break out year" for Jamie when he got reunited with former crew chief Donnie Wingo. 2009 hasn't been horrible for McMurray but it hasn't been great either. He sits 19th in the points and looks to miss the chase for the fourth time at Roush.
David Ragan is another issue. When Ragan got to Roush in 2006 at Martinsville, Tony Stewart called him "a dart without feathers." In 2007, Stewart was right. Ragan struggled, trying to find himself, when he finished 23rd in the points. However, 2008 David Ragan found himself. He finished 13th in the points and had 14 top tens. He looked to be on his way up and the 22 year old finally looked to have some poise and control.
Veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig and David seemed to really click, and Tony Stewart, yes the same Tony Stewart who once called him "a dart without feathers" thought David should have been named Driver of the Year for his growth in the Cup Series. Big money sponser UPS signed on to sponsor Ragan with a three year deal and all signs pointed to David having another nice season for Roush in 2009.
As great as 2008 was for Ragan, 2009 has been that bad. It's been an absoulte misarable season for the 23 year old. He has just one top 10 this season, that coming in the Daytona 500 back in Februray. It seems like whenever Ragan gets momentum something happens to hamstrings him again. At Texas, Ragan was running in the top five all afternoon, when a piece of paper got caught on his grill and overheated the car so badly, that the engine blew derailing his good run to a 37th place finish. At Sonoma, teammate Carl Edwards made contact with David, when David was running in the top ten all afternoon. The contact sent Ragan spinning and pushed him to a 33rd place finish.
Although, luck hasn't helped Ragan, he hasn't helped himself very much either. He was running solid at Daytona and cut off Kurt Busch and then banged the outside wall. He had a solid top five car, and finished 13th. It seems that David and crew chief Jimmy Fennig have lost all the connection they had last year and that a crew chief change may be in the works really soon. Ragan sits 30th, 30th, in the points with a Roush Fenway car. Not too much to be excited about there.
Now reports, however, have Ragan staying at Roush. Reports this morning on Jayski.com have Ragan staying at Roush. Zak Brown (no not the Country Music singer) CEO of Just Marketing International, which handles UPS's marketing account said "Absoultly, I can confirm David Ragan will be driver for UPS in the #6 Roush Fenway car." Leading to more speculation that McMurray will be the one to leave.
So what should Jack do?
Go with the 23 year old and see if it's just a bad year for Ragan or stick with McMurray who has been a dispointment, but is doing a lot better then Ragan.
Will UPS have a say. We have all seen the silly UPS commericals for Ragan this year and reports have that UPS wants to continue the commerical series "Maximum Driver" with David.
Reports have that Crown Royal and Irwin Tools are interested in sponsoring Matt Kenseth, now that DeWalt has announced they will not coming back.
Will Jack get rid of the fifth car in general? Will he move one team to Yates and put a different driver (perhaps Travis Kvapil) in the car when he frees McMurray or Ragan.
It's all an interesting debate. We will see in the coming weeks what Jack will do.