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Furniture Row Racing announced that Auto-Owners Insurance has agreed to a multiyear primary sponsorship for Truex Jr.'s No. 78 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series, furniturerowracing.com reports.

Impact

Auto-Owners Insurance will double the amount of primary sponsorship from three to six events in the next two seasons. The program starts in May at Kansas Speedway and also includes dates at Michigan, Indianapolis, Richmond, Charlotte and Phoenix. Truex and this team has been coming on strong the past two seasons, so this is a good amount of exposure that the company will get nationally.

Sport Clips Haircuts is an active sponsor in NASCAR and is excited to enter its ninth season as a partner with Joe Gibbs Racing. Denny Hamlin enters his 12th full season with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017 behind the wheel of the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series in 2017, Joe Gibbs Racing PR reports.

Impact

Sport Clips will return to the No. 11 Toyota this season. They will pick up primary sponsorship on Hamlin's Toyota for two dates, and will be an associate sponsor on the car for the full season. Hamlin had a strong 2016 season and should post similar numbers in the upcoming campaign.

Long-time JR Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet at Daytona in February and Talladega in May, reports.

Impact

The No. 88 Xfinity Series team has been a full-time team the last two years. They'll be shifting to part-time in 2017 since JRM is expanding to four-other full-time teams. Kahne will split the ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr. The veteran will get to lead off the season at Daytona and race at another superspeedway, Talladega, in the spring.

Joe Gibbs Racing announced that driver Carl Edwards has stepped away from racing in NASCAR, Joe Gibbs Racing reports.

Impact

Wednesday's press conference cleared up a few details about the sudden and mysterious retirement of Edwards. The veteran driver insisted it was not health-related, but more in the interest of maintaining his good health for the long term. Edwards made it a point to call his status as "stepping away" from racing and not retirement. He did not rule out a potential future return to NASCAR for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Carl Edwards is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to pursue other interests outside of driving and will not compete in 2017. On Wednesday, JGR will announce at a press conference that Daniel Suarez will replace Edwards as the driver of the team's No. 19 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota, FOX Sports reports.

Impact

This is a bit of a bolt from the blue and huge news from the world of NASCAR. Edwards will step out of the team's No. 19 Toyota after 13 seasons of competition at the sport's top level. Over that time Edwards grabbed 28 victories and 220 Top-10 finishes, but no championships. Joe Gibbs Racing prodigy Suarez will take over the team's No. 19 Toyota and race for Rookie of the Year honors in 2017.

Carl Edwards is going to retire from racing, effective immediately, Motorsport.com reports.

Impact

Edwards came oh-so-close to winning his first Sprint Cup Series championship last year, but a DNF in the final race following a crash bumped him down to fourth in the standings. Joe Gibbs Racing will make an official announcement Wednesday.

Hunt Brothers Pizza is expanding its partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing to include a four-race sponsorship of Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, stewarthaasracing.com reports.

Impact

Harvick will pilot SHR's initial entry, the No. 41 Chevrolet, in the Xfinity Series in the upcoming season. Hunt Brothers Pizza will expand their primary sponsorship of Harvick to four events in this division of NASCAR. The two have been long-time partners in the Monster Energy Cup Series and that success will continue in the Xfinity Series in 2017.

Leavine Family Racing has announced the return of veteran NASCAR driver Michael McDowell for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Leavine Family Racing reports.

Impact

McDowell will return to the No. 95 Chevrolet for the upcoming 2017 season. He's made great progress with this small race team. Todd Parrott will also return to the LFR team and be paired once again with McDowell. "With both Michael and Todd returning to the team this season we are looking to maintain the consistency we found towards the end of last year and continue to push forward and build off the positive momentum," said Jeremy Lange, Vice President of Leavine Family Racing.

The off-season saw more maneuvering behind the scenes that ended with Chris Buescher moving to JTG Daugherty, where he'll team with AJ Allmendinger in a brand new No. 37 ride as the team expands to two entries. However, Buescher is ready to come back to Roush Fenway Racing in 2018 when it is expected they'll expand back to three teams, Motor Racing Network reports.

Impact

"Everything has been a process to work through," Buescher said. "It's tough to still be under contract with Roush - it being a different manufacturer. But this is the best way to go on the racetrack and be competitive, get more seat time and be ready to come back for 2018 in whatever that brings. Right now, Roush has said the plan would be to get three teams started back again in 2018 and me go back there." The current arrangement will allow Buescher to continue racing in NASCAR's top division, but return to Roush for the 2018 season.

Credit One, which sponsored CGR's No. 1 Chevy of Jamie McMurray for five races in 2016, will be the primary sponsor for Kyle Larson on he No. 42 Chevy for a few races in 2017, jayski.com reports.

Impact

Target is reducing their racing sponsorship footprint and that includes Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet. It is rumored that Ganassi sponsor, Credit One, will step in and help fill the void on Larson's car in the coming season. It appears that they will pick up a handful of events and help close the funding gap for this race team.

Trent Owens will oversee JTG Daugherty's new entry in the Monster Energy Cup Series for 2017 with driver Chris Buescher, motorsport.com reports.

Impact

Owens comes over from Richard Petty Motorsports and joins the new No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing team. He'll be paired with Buescher in the team's upcoming season. Owens helped Aric Almirola to victory lane and a berth in the Chase for the Cup a couple seasons ago. Buescher will need all the help he can get establishing this new race team in the Monster Energy Cup Series.

Denny Hamlin finished sixth in the standings last season after advancing to the Round of 8 in the Chase. Although his contract expires at the end of the 2017 season, JGR has no plans on letting Hamlin go, motorsport.com reports.

Impact

Hamlin has been quite competitive and he's quite happy at Joe Gibbs Racing. The two are working out the details of a contract extension beyond 2017. "We'll announce something pretty soon, I believe," Hamlin said. "I feel like I have all the tools I need to win championships. I have great sponsors, a great manufacturer and team right there in front of me. It's just a great situation that I was put in in 2005 and to me, I don't see anything changing."

Truex Jr. has been named the 2016 Eastern Motorsport Press Association National Driver of the Year, furniturerowracing.com reports.

Impact

Truex had an incredible 2016 season in NASCAR. He won four events, five poles and led a series-leading 1,805 laps. The members of the EMPA rewarded the Furniture Row Racing veteran with the honor. This was the second time in Truex's career that he will receive the EMPA Driver of the Year trophy.

Kyle Busch Motorsports announced that owner-driver Busch will compete in five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events in 2017, Kyle Busch Motorsports PR reports.

Impact

After making just four starts in this division of NASCAR each of the last two seasons, Busch will add a date in 2017. He's pulled back his schedule in the truck series over the last couple seasons. Busch typically wins about half the events he starts in this racing series, so we should see Busch in victory lane a couple times next season in the Camping World Truck Series.

Go FAS Racing announced that Matt DiBenedetto will pilot the No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford for all 36 scheduled events in NASCAR's Premier Series during the 2017 season, Go FAS Racing PR reports.

Impact

The talented youngster jumps from BK Racing to Go FAS Racing for 2017. DiBenedetto opened some eyes with his first-career Top-10 finish at Bristol last spring. Now with two full seasons of racing at NASCAR's top level under his belt, he's ready to develop further. Go FAS will pair him with crew chief Wally Rogers to help in that effort.

Front Row Motorsports will have two familiar faces behind the wheels of its racecars in 2017. David Ragan, who drove for the Statesville-based organization from 2012 to 2015 and earned its first win, will rejoin the team to drive the No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports PR reports.

Impact

The veteran driver is coming off a difficult season at BK Racing where he finished a career-worst 33rd in the driver standings and posted zero Top-10 finishes in the campaign. Ragan still has some good racing left in him, and at 30-years-old he will be reunited with the FRM stable. He claimed that team's first victory in 2013 at Talladega and finished 28th in that season's final standings. Ragan will pilot the team's No. 38 Ford in the upcoming season and gain some increased fantasy racing value.

Front Row Motorsports will have two familiar faces behind the wheels of its racecars in 2017. Landon Cassill will return to the team and drive the No. 34 Ford after an impressive first season with the team in 2016, Front Row Motorsports PR reports.

Impact

Cassill will switch from the team's No. 38 Ford to the No. 34 Ford, but most everything else should remain the same. The team didn't announce if he would be paired with crew chief Donnie Wingo, but that is the assumption until further details are released.

Matt DiBenedetto tweeted Thursday evening, "I've decided to go in a different direction next year. Exciting announcements coming soon".

Impact

DiBenedetto had spent the last two seasons with BK Racing, and trying to push that small race team to greater heights. He made some headway last season and actually posted his first-career Top 10 in the spring Bristol race. DiBenedetto is very talented and will likely land in a similar, if not better, team situation for 2017.

Having his 2017 plans in place eases much concern but Chris Buescher, 16th in points for 2016, said there are "still a lot of moving pieces floating around", NASCAR.com reports.

Impact

The talented young driver is set to make the move from Front Row Motorsports to JTG Daugherty Racing's new team in 2017. Even though Buescher will be racing in a Chevrolet in the upcoming season, he's still under contract with the Ford camp of Roush Fenway Racing. It makes for an unusual situation, but still a great opportunity to develop as a driver in NASCAR's top division.

Casey Mears, who will be replaced in the No. 13 GEICO Chevy next season by Ty Dillon, tweeted Tuesday, "Thank you for all the support out there. Working on what's next. Having fun exploring all options and directions."

Impact

Mears is a 14-year veteran of NASCAR's top division, and he found himself out of a job at Germain Racing when they announced the hiring of Ty Dillon to drive the No. 13 Chevrolet next season. Mears hasn't cracked the Top 20 in the driver standings since the 2008 season, but he has close to 500 starts of Monster Energy Series experience. A veteran of his experience will have some appeal in this free agent driver market.