Most of the teams in the NASCAR Cup Series have their lineups in place for the 2018 season, but there are still a handful of free agents available and a few spots left for them.
It’s been a tough market for free agents thus far, which has led drivers such as Matt Kenseth and Danica Patrick to retire. Teams have been cautious about giving long term contracts to older drivers — even drivers with a championship like Kenseth.
There are three well-known drivers who are looking for deals with teams, including Kurt Busch, Michael McDowell and Landon Cassill.
Busch — who also has a championship on his resume — has been in contract negotiations with Stewart-Haas Racing to remain in the 41 car, but the two sides haven’t been able to agree to a deal.
He told NASCAR.com that it’s a “work in progress,” and the two sides seem to believe a deal will be workout out before the 2018 season. But it’s worth asking and wondering why the two sides can’t reach an agreement. Busch has been consistent throughout his career, and the 39-year-old is coming off of another playoff season. He’s made the postseason for five straight seasons, and he won the championship in 2004.
Busch will likely end up back in the 41 next season with Stewart-Haas Racing, and it’s hard to imagine him being without a ride next season.
Michael McDowell had raced with Leavine Family Racing for several seasons, but the team decided to move on from McDowell after the 2017 season. They replaced him with Kasey Kahne, and now McDowell is left searching for a new team in 2018.
McDowell hasn’t exactly had a great career, but he hasn’t been working with the best car, either. He finished 26th last season, which was the best finish of his career. He’s made steady improvements, and at age 32, he can be a quality driver for a team that needs one.
There have been rumors that McDowell could replace Landon Cassill in the 34 car for Front Row Motorsports, but neither the team nor McDowell have confirmed the rumor. It would be a good move for both sides, and both sides will fill a need.
Speaking of Cassill, who might have the best social media presence of any driver, is still without ride for next year. He finished 31st last season with Front Row Motorsports, and his best finish was 16th at Daytona.
He’s only 28, so a team could take a chance on him if they’re looking for a young driver. But there doesn’t seem to be a market for him at the moment.
Front Row Motorsports general manager Jerry Freeze told AutoWeek the decision to part ways was Cassill was to put the team in a better situation.
“As it concerns Landon, we’re just trying to improve our program and thought we had some opportunities that would put us in a better place,” Freeze said.
“It was looking like there wasn’t going to be an opportunity for Landon for next year, so we wanted to be fair to him and let him know that as soon as we could.”
It’s unclear where he could end up, but there’s a possibility he could land at Premium Motorsports or BK Racing. His options are a bit limited if he wants to return to the Cup Series.
Cassill is the biggest question mark, though he has signaled a willingness to race in the Xfinity r Truck series. It appears as if Busch will be back with Stewart-Haas Racing and McDowell will land with Front Row Motorsports. The free agent drama is slowly coming to an end, but there will be plenty more of it next year.