We have reached the end of the Sprint Cup season. “1to go” tweeted Kevin Harvick earlier today. One race to go indeed. The last race of the season will be run at Homestead. This year the driver championship is separated by just three points as Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart vie for that honor.
Homestead offers something for everyone. But for David Ragan, Brian Vickers and David Reutimann it offers their last known ride in a Sprint Cup car. Combined the trio has five victories at the Cup level and yet combined they have zero rides for 2012.
Aided by the pushing of Matt Kenseth, David Ragan won the July race at Daytona. It is the only win for the 25 year old Georgia born driver. Ragan has however won the last two Sprint Cup open’s, the preliminary race before the All Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ragan has failed to live up to the exceptions he created in 2008 when he notched 8 top-5 and 14 top-10 finishes and just missed out on making the Chase for the Cup in his second full season. Ragan has not matched those numbers in the last three seasons combined. His best effort coming this year when he managed four runs inside the top five.
Ragan and team owner Jack Roush have resigned to the fact that the driver will not be behind the wheel of the #6 Ford full time at the Cup level. Primary sponsor UPS is off the car and will be on teammate Carl Edwards’ ride for a handful of races. Ragan has went as far to say he will run the Nationwide schedule, but again there have been no connection of his name to any team for 2012 yet. Ragan’s best hope may be to catch on with a low end Nationwide team and hope he finds his way to the seat of the #6 part time next year.
David Reutimann on the other hand thought he was going to be with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012. Then news came out that the team was in negotiations with Clint Bowyer and suddenly the veteran was out looking for a job. Reutimann has two career wins under his belt, a rain shortened win at Charlotte and a dominating win at Chicagoland in 2010.
The truth is Reutimann, 41, is in full decline. Currently sitting a disappointing 28th in the driving standings his overall finish is set to head down the latter for the second year in a row. His lead lap finishes are down, his average finish is down and most importantly for ownership… sponsor Aaron’s is off the car after Sunday.
Reutimann is hopeful for 2012 but much like Ragan there has been little mention of any rides for him at any level. Earlier this year he races in a few Nationwide races with Rusty Wallace Racing but had limited success. A continuation of that relationship seems difficult due to sponsorship concerns there as well. Oddly Wallace’s team is losing sponsor 5 Hour Energy to MWR and Bowyer.
Then there is the case of Brian Vickers. With the recent actions of Vickers it’s easy to understand why he is without a ride next season. The 28 year old driver has used the impending closure of Red Bull Racing as a reason to act as a vigilante against former Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth. Vickers most recent action ran driving Kenseth into a wall at Phoenix. It’s worth noting that Vickers has also taken exception to Marcos Ambrose and Tony Stewart this season as well. He parked his car in front of Ambroses’ while on the track earlier this year and punted Tony Stewart onto the tires at Sonoma.
After qualifying for the Chase in 2009, Vickers missed most of 2010 while dealing with blood clots in his legs. The big knock against Vickers is his unsightly finishes. Teammate Kasey Kahne recently claimed victory at Phoenix and has scored the third most points of any driver since the Chase started, Vickers on the other hand has found his way on the highlights by making contact with other drivers.
Vickers has had a good relationship with Turner Motorsports and took over for Reed Sorenson in the teams #32 Nationwide ride. While nothing has come out about a pairing of the two, it’s possible that they could continue this relationship in 2012.
Homestead has a lot on the line. It’s not just all for the championship either.