CONCORD, N.C. — story by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online — Twisted Tea photo — The landscape of NASCAR’s Silly Season waters may have just shifted dramatically.
According to a tweet from the Twisted Tea Hard Iced Tea brand earlier this afternoon (@TwistedTea), the company has stepped up their sponsorship role of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 9 Ford team and driver Marcos Ambrose.
The tweet, which read “(Twisted Tea) is excited to announce that we will now be on the #9 car every race weekend for the rest of the season!” and holds with it a photo of Ambrose with the Twisted Tea paint scheme that the brand was originally only going to race at Dover in September poses a lot of questions with very few answers at the current moment.
With this new, supposedly full-season announcement by Twisted Tea, does this mean that an announcement about Stanley/Black and Decker’s departure from RPM is imminent?
Is this the new landscape for drivers in NASCAR, where the sponsor is every bit as involved in the aftermath of a driver’s decision as the team owner (a la NAPA and Michael Waltrip Racing)?
And did the “punch seen Round the World” ultimately cost the Petty-owned No. 9 team far more than it should have?
Those answers will become clear very shortly, but for now, it does open up a lot of questions.
Speculation is already rampant on social media that Stanley/Black and Decker is headed to the No. 5 Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne at Hendrick Motorsports for the 2015 Sprint Cup season. If they head to Kahne’s ride, especially with Nationwide Insurance already coming in and posing a potential conflict to Farmer’s at the Hendrick shop, that solves the 5 team’s quandary and potentially opens up a deal for Farmer’s to jump to another team. Where might Farmer’s go?
And if Stanley/Black and Decker doesn’t go with Kahne and HMS, do they go to another team or pull out of NASCAR entirely? Or do they even take a page out of NAPA’s book and step down to fund a Nationwide or Camping World Truck team?
I don’t know those answers yet, but my gut tells me we’re going to find them out very shortly.
And it’s going to shake things up in a big way.