Haven’t followed NASCAR’s “Silly Season”? Time to catch up

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Ryan Newman’s jump to Richard Childress Racing marks the latest driver move in what has been an extremely active ‘Silly Season’ throughout the Sprint Cup garage. And it’s not over yet.

With Newman’s move to RCR, the focus now appears to shift to Furniture Row Racing, which will need a new driver in the No. 78 for 2014.

Also, we’re still waiting on official confirmation for Austin Dillon, who is expected to move up to the Cup level in another RCR entry.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look back at what’s gone down so far in regards to ‘Silly Season’ – even though we’ll all probably still need a spotter’s guide at Daytona next February:

2014 Team: No. 4, Stewart-Haas Racing

After running for RCR for his entire Sprint Cup career, Harvick announced in July that both himself and main sponsor Budweiser will move over to Stewart-Haas starting next year. For SHR, that meant the departure of Newman, with team co-owner Tony Stewart saying at New Hampshire that his team didn’t have the capability of expanding to a fourth car. But soon enough, that would change…

2014 Team: No. 55, Michael Waltrip Racing (full-time)

For several seasons, MWR had been splitting the No. 55 between Vickers, Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip. But when the team decided to seek out a full-time driver for the car, Vickers became a prime candidate. His victory at New Hampshire this summer basically sealed the deal, and a short time later, he was officially welcomed back to full-time Cup racing in a multi-year deal that will see him be the sole wheelman of the No. 55.

2014 Team: No. 00, Stewart-Haas Racing

While Stewart was initially recovering from a season-ending sprint car crash early last month, his SHR partner, Gene Haas, made a bold play for Busch, who was in the midst of trying to get the single-car Furniture Row Racing into the Chase at the time (he would). It took Haas some convincing for Stewart to go along with a fourth program, as the three-time Sprint Cup champion was worried about the expansion’s timing. But ultimately, Haas got his man; he’ll fund Busch’s program out of his pocket, with his machine tool business, Haas Automation, serving as The Outlaw’s main sponsor.

2014 Team: No. 42, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

One of the most heralded young guns in a long time, the 21-year-old Larson was going to be a Cup driver sooner or later. EGR has opted for sooner, bringing him in to replace veteran Juan Pablo Montoya next season in the No. 42 car. There’s no question that the California native is super-talented, but there have been quibbles about whether or not he’s truly ready to face the big boys. For his part, Larson is confident that he can do just that. He’ll need the attitude.

2014 Team: No. 47, JTG Daugherty Racing

After serving as a part-timer in multiple disciplines this year such as NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide and the IZOD IndyCar Series, ‘Dinger will make his own return to full-time Cup racing next year. While some open-wheel fans may not have been happy about the ex-Champ Car star deciding to keep running in stock cars, it’s still a well-deserved second chance for him after he was suspended, then released from Penske Racing last summer.

2014 Team: No. 31, Richard Childress Racing

The Brickyard 400 champion has officially found a new home. Newman will replace the departing Jeff Burton in the No. 31 Caterpillar-backed machine next season after a five-year run with Stewart-Haas. Up to this afternoon’s announcement, rumors had been swirling for weeks about Newman and RCR joining forces.