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Jack Roush and Geoff Smith are pondering their 2010 driver-sponsor lineups, and Jamie McMurray is hot speculation

  Jamie McMurray: Will he stay with Roush, will he return to Ganassi, will he move to Yates? (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Kevin Harvick isn't the NASCAR Sprint Cup star whose 2010 ride is up for debate.
   Suddenly there is uncertainty about Jamie McMurray's future at Jack Roush's team.
   But there appears no uncertainty about Roush's commitment to NASCAR's Nationwide series – he says he'll have at least three full-time Nationwide teams in 2010, maybe four, if he can put together a package for Paul Menard.
   Roush says he's committed to promising young racers Colin Braun (20) and Ricky Stenhouse (21), with full Nationwide teams, and another title-contending Nationwide team for Cup star Carl Edwards.
   NASCAR and car owners are to discuss the new Nationwide car-of-tomorrow and how to introduce it next season, in light of the current economy. The new Nationwide model, which will have a traditional rear spoiler and a more Detroit-identifiable nose, is being shown to team owners, who are being asked for their input. NASCAR tentatively plans to introduce the new car on short-tracks and road courses next season, and possibly at Daytona too; but that all apparently depends on how team owners size up the economic situation.
   Geoff Smith, head of Roush Fenway Racing, says the new Nationwide model should be easier to incorporate in a team's fleet than the current Cup car-of-tomorrow has been.
   Both Ford and Dodge have committed to using 'muscle car' model marketing, with the Mustang and Charger, in next year's Nationwide series; however Chevrolet and Toyota are not following suit.
   Meanwhile what McMurray (33) might be doing in 2010 is unclear. Smith says that he would like to keep McMurray (and the Crown Royal sponsorship runs two more years) but that he has not signed McMurray to a new contract (his current one is up at the end of this season).
   Key perhaps could be the need to put new sponsorship on Matt Kenseth's cars, with long-time sponsor DeWalt leaving the sport.
   McMurray's last NASCAR Cup tour win was at Daytona in the summer of 2007. He is one of the five Roush Sprint Cup drivers, and if NASCAR holds to its stance of wanting Roush to cut back to four teams for next season, Roush and Smith have some shuffling to do…and some sponsorship work too.
   That Daytona win is McMurray's only win with Roush since joining for the 2006 season, after several years with Chip Ganassi.
   Ganassi himself is looking for a new driver to replace Martin Truex Jr. on the Cup side next season, and there is speculation McMurray could be getting a look-see.
   Kenseth won the 2003 championship with Roush and is one of his long-time anchors. UPS says its Roush sponsorship with up-and-coming David Ragan is solid; and Roush stars Edwards and Greg Biffle have more years left on their contracts.
   All that has kept McMurray on the hot seat lately, with speculation he could be moving over to Roush's sister operation with Doug Yates.
   However Yates' own operation, with Bobby Labonte and Menard, has been struggling this season. Moving sponsorships around could be tricky.
    Smith says he expects to have an announcement about Kenseth's new sponsor "very shortly."


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