NASCAR notebook

With most of the NASCAR driver puzzle pieces rapidly falling into place, two Georgians remain without rides just a week before drivers hit the track for testing at Daytona International Speedway.

Unadilla’s David Ragan, who was left without a full-time Sprint Cup ride when his sponsor, UPS, left the No. 6 Ford team at Roush Fenway Racing, has been in the running for several open rides, but those spots have gone to others.

He said this week that he’s looking at possible rides in the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series, but what he needs most is backing from a sponsor.

“I’m just trying to find something that’s competitive,” he said. “I don’t want to take just any [Cup] ride just to say I’m in the Cup series.”

Peachtree City’s Reed Sorenson, who was a finalist for several open seats, also finds himself without a job for 2012. He was a Nationwide Series title contender in 2011 while driving for Turner Motorsports, but was released before the season ended. Still, he finished fifth in the final points standings.

The driver shuffle that began when Kurt Busch and team owner Roger Penske went their separate ways appears to be coming to an end with the announcements Wednesday that Aric Almirola will drive the No. 43 Ford at Richard Petty Motorsports while Cole Whitt will fill his old Nationwide Series ride at JR Motorsports. Whitt, 20, is a former USAC Midget racer who spent last season in the Camping World Truck Series.

The No. 43, which has veteran Greg Erwin as crew chief and recorded one top-five and 10 top-10 finishes en route to a 15th-place points finish, was left without a driver when A.J. Allmendinger took over for Busch in Penske’s No. 22 Dodge. Busch is set to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet owned by James Finch, a move that leaves Landon Cassill looking for a ride.

David Reutimann, who lost his job at Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of last year, has been hired by Tommy Baldwin Racing, where he’ll be a teammate to Dave Blaney. A team release announcing Reutimann’s hiring said that details about car number, sponsors and crew will be made in upcoming weeks.

Team owner Tommy Baldwin said in the same release that his team has lost its sponsor, Golden Corral, but he hopes to find new backers.

Lawrenceville driver

There was good news this week for one Georgian on the NASCAR front. Randy Hill Racing announced a contract extension for Lawrenceville’s Casey Roderick. Roderick, a former Legends driver and a one-time member of Bill Elliott’s driver-development program, is expected to run the Nationwide Series in a Ford Mustang fielded by Hill. Roderick made three Nationwide starts last year with a best finish of 25th at Watkins Glen.

Short tracks

Many local short-track racers will crank up their 2012 seasons this weekend. Lanier National Speedway in Braselton is hosting the fifth annual Ice Cold Shriners Bowl, while the dirt-racing action will be at Talladega Short Track in Ice Bowl XXI.

The Lanier event is one of only two events on the track’s calendar this year, the other being Speedfest on Jan. 28-29.