USA Today‘s Nate Ryan is reporting that contract negotiations between Richard Childress Racing and Clint Bowyer have reached an impasse that will result in the driver leaving the team at season’s end. On Sirius XM Radio’s NASCAR channel, Childress said:
You know, we’ve tried and we’ve really worked really hard to put the deal together to keep Clint. It’s not 100% off the table, but it’s getting tougher and tougher as the day goes by. Clint’s got a couple of really good opportunities there facing him. For us, it just didn’t seem that we could get everything worked out. Clint’s still a good friend. I want the best for him. I feel like that we’ve done a lot together, and I hope that if we can’t put him in a car next year that he gets in a ride that he’s really good and happy with. The door’s not closed for sure, and it’ll always be open no matter where he ends up. But we’re still looking at other options and trying to put some things together. It’d be great to get him back in that No. 33 and run him, but if we don’t, I want him to have the best for him because he’s a great guy, a great talent, a lot of fun, and I look at him as a good friend.
For Bowyer’s part, he said:
There’s opportunities and stuff we’re trying to weigh out. You’ve got to have all the stars line up. You can’t [have] one piece of the puzzle or a couple pieces. You have to have the whole puzzle put together. Until you do that, you’re wasting your time talking about it in the media because you don’t have anything to deliver.
Bowyer is said to be considering an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports. Beyond that, there aren’t many other options for Bowyer in the Sprint Cup Series. Before Red Bull Racing announced they would be leaving the sport at the end of the season, he was linked to one of their Toyotas. That’s become murky because no one knows the status of that team beyond this season. It’s unclear whether another owner will take over the team, or if it will dissolve altogether.
Michael Waltrip Racing, Stewart Haas Racing, and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing all have the room to accommodate another team, but SHR appears set at three cars, with Danica Patrick part time. The other two teams have not indicated that they would expand, nor does that seem likely.
Joe Gibbs Racing could be an option. They were rumored to have made a hard play to get Carl Edwards. They may consider Bowyer to replace Logano, or for a fourth team. There have been no indications that they are pursuing Bowyer, though.
When you add in the fact that Brian Vickers may also be looking for a ride at season’s end, seats become even more scarce. Vickers could, however, replace Bowyer in the No. 33 RCR Chevy, though there is nothing to indicate that’s a possibility.
In the end, I think Bowyer will stay with RCR. There’s a small chance he could go to RPM, but I think he will realize that the available rides out there do not compare to the equipment he is in.