With so few rides available on the NASCAR Cup Series level, it’s had a trickle down effect on the lower levels of NASCAR. It’s allowed a majority of the top drivers in each of the NASCAR Xfinity Series as well as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to stay put, including both defending champions returning to their seats to defend their titles next season. In turn, that should strengthen both fields for the 2021 season.
Just take the Xfinity Series driver lineup already in place for next season. Six of the top eight of the 2020 final standings return. Out of the 33 races run a year ago, the returners account for 21 race wins.
In Trucks, you have the entire top seven of the final standings back.
Lets break down what we have in NXS so far. There’s been a lot of movement here lately. Ryan Sieg will be back in the No. 39 Chevrolet. Same for family teams of Jeremy Clements (No. 51 Chevrolet) and Brandon Brown (No. 68 Chevrolet). Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett and Noah Gragson have all signed extensions to remain with JR Motorsports full time. The No. 8 Chevrolet, the “all star car” will have Sam Mayer for 18 races, Josh Berry for 12 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one. That leaves two races available for the taking.
Daniel Hemric shifts from JRM to the No. 18 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing. He will replace Riley Herbst who by all accounts appears to be heading to Stewart-Haas Racing to replace Chase Briscoe. Harrison Burton and Brandon Jones will be back with JGR for a three car full time line up.
SHR will stay with one car for Herbst.
Austin Cindric is back with Team Penske on this level for one more year. Brett Moffitt will move up to Our Motorsports’ No. 02 Chevrolet full time but not declare for points.
Kaulig Racing announced that Justin Haley will be back in the No. 11 Chevrolet while Jeb Burton will replace Chastain in the No. 10 Chevrolet. AJ Allmendinger will make this a three car full time effort in the No. 16 Chevrolet.
Myatt Snider will drive the return of the full time car for RCR. It will be the No. 2 Chevrolet.
There’s plenty of other smaller teams like JD Motorsports and others still working out their 2021 plans.
Hattori Racing Enterprises is expecting to be back with Austin Hill in limited capacities in their No. 61 Toyota.
Just look at that lineup. You have Cindric, Allgaier, Gragson, Annett, Hemric, Herbst, Jones, the Burton cousins, Allmendinger, Haley and Snider all with the big teams running for a title. You also have Sieg and Brown who made the postseason last year with smaller teams trying to stay in.
The field is a strong one that’s for sure.
Notable Full Time Teams
Team Penske – Austin Cindric (No. 22 Chevrolet)
Stewart-Haas Racing – Riley Herbst (No. 98 Ford)
Joe Gibbs Racing – Daniel Hemric (No. 18 Toyota), Brandon Jones (No. 19 Toyota), Harrison Burton (No. 20 Toyota)
JR Motorsports – Michael Annett (No. 1 Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier No. 7 Chevrolet), Noah Gragson (No. 9 Chevrolet)
Kaulig Racing – Jeb Burton (No. 10 Chevrolet), Justin Haley (No. 11 Chevrolet), AJ Allmendinger (No. 16 Chevrolet
Richard Childress Racing – Myatt Snider (No. 2 Chevrolet)
Our Motorsports – Brett Moffitt (No. 02 Chevrolet)
RSS – Ryan Sieg (No. 39 Chevrolet)
Brandonbilt – Brandon Brown (No. 68 Chevrolet)
Jeremy Clements Racing – Jeremy Clements (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Martins Motorsport – Tommy Joe Martins (No. 44 Chevrolet)
DGM Racing – Josh Williams (No. 92 Chevrolet)
This series has seen a lot of seats get taken lately. We know Austin Hill is back with HRE for a third season. GMS will have Sheldon Creed, Tyler Ankrum and Zane Smith back with Chase Purdy moving up to replace the departing Moffitt. They also added Raphael Lessard for 12 races on a part time gig for now. John Hunter Nemechek will replace Lessard with KBM in the No. 4 Ford while Chandler Smith will move into Christian Eckes’ seat.
DGR Crosley will see Hailie Deegan take over one of their trucks. Niece will see Carson Hocevar drive the No. 40 Chevrolet, Ryan Truex in one and Brett Moffitt in the the No. 45 Chevrolet. Young’s Motorsports announced that Spencer Boyd will return to the No. 20 Chevrolet in 2021 too.
But, the rest remains open.
ThorSport had Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger in 2020. I can see at least 75-percent of them coming back in 2021.
DGR/Front Row would likely bring Todd Gilliland back themselves in the other truck and Tanner Gray could be a strong play to remain a Ford development driver with the second truck or him moving to ThorSport. He had a solid rookie season and I don’t see Ford giving up on him. He and Deegan are their future they feel.
Stewart Friesen should be back full time in the No. 52 Toyota but nothing has been announced. Kyle Busch Motorsports has one ride open now. Does Christian Eckes get it or do they find room for Chandler Smith? I don’t see KBM expanding to three full time trucks and I don’t see Smith leaving either.
Derek Kraus should be back in his No. 19 Toyota too.
ThorSport holds the keys to the rest of the silly season to what should be an excellent 2021 in Trucks.