NASCAR.Coleman replaces Yeley as “Silly Season” moves to MIS 8.1

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

Admit it, you read the headline and you’re asking yourself “Who is Coleman?” That’s how strange this year’s version of Silly Season has become, the time of year when struggling NASCAR teams begin making driver changes in hopes of improving their fortunes.

The “Coleman” in question would be Brad Coleman, current Nationwide Series driver who has been named to take over J.J. Yeley’s seat in the Hall of Fame Racing Toyota beginning this week at Michigan International Speedway. His main qualification for the job seems to be the fact that he is only 20 years old.

It appears almost certain that 19-year-old Joey Logano will take over Tony Stewart’s seat in the Home Depot Toyota for 2009, perhaps even sooner if Stewart fails to make the Chase for the Championship. Logano has a string of success behind him making such a promotion not much of a surprise. Coleman, on the other hand...not so much.

In 23 races in the Nationwide Series this season, Coleman has only one top-10 finish. In 17 Cup starts, Yeley recorded one top-five. It doesn’t look like Coleman is an improvement over Yeley, just younger. Since Logano wasn’t available, Hall of Fame Racing hired the next-youngest driver they could find.

Several drivers, including Ryan Newman, Dario Franchitti, Jeremy Mayfield, David Stremme and Casey Mears, are already looking for a new team for next season. Count on that list to grow longer after the field is set after the Richmond race for the 10-event Chase for the Championship.

Although Stewart ranked ninth in current driver points as the circuit headed to Watkins Glen, he’s fewer than 70 points ahead of 13th and missing the Chase altogether. If he misses, he’s liable to jump to his new team early (or be pushed out to make room for Logano).

If that happens and the rumors that Ryan Newman will be his teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing are true, then Newman will also probably make the jump early as he appears unlikely to make the Chase. That opens up a spot at Roger Penske’s team and puts Scott Riggs out of the Haas team and back in the rumor mill.

Other stories have Kurt Busch, who is also unlikely to make the Chase, possibly leaving the Penske team. If that comes to pass, and Logano and Newman do take the seats they are heavily rumored to be getting, that leaves three driver seats open: two at Penske and one at Richard Childress Racing, which is expanding to four cars next year.

Unfortunately, there would be at least six drivers looking for those three seats, namely Busch, Riggs, Franchitti, Mears, Stremme and Mayfield. If Kurt Busch is doing the math, he’s probably considering staying with Penske as the Childress ride is the only one he would have a shot at.

If Busch stays put, then at least five drivers will be chasing two seats, the NASCAR version of the old children’s game. What’s more, rumors have Michael Waltrip losing sponsorship on one or two of his team cars. If that’s true, then throw David Reutimann  and Michael McDowell into the mix, too. That would be the mother of all musical chairs games. And it wouldn’t be “Silly Season” for those not securing a ride for 2009. It would be something far more tragic.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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