Josh Bilicki became the third Rick Ware Racing driver to be announced over the last three weekdays. Last Friday, Joey Gase was announced as the first driver. On Monday, it was Cody Ware’s turn. On Tuesday, the team announced that Bilicki will pilot the No. 52 entry in 2021.
That wasn’t the only driver news of the day. Derrike Cope was the last major newsworthy item as the 62 year old will make his first Daytona 500 start since 2004. Cope, will drive the the fourth RWR entry with a StarCom Racing partnership on it. Sandiwched between that was Ty Dillon being announced as the driver of the No. 96 Toyota for the Gaunt Brothers.
The 28-year-old from Lewisville, North Carolina, will make his 163rd career NASCAR Cup Series start upon qualifying for The Great American Race. Dillon will drive the No. 96 Bass Pro Shops/Black Rifle Coffee Company Toyota Camry, marking his first points-paying start behind the wheel of a Toyota.
“Gaunt Brothers Racing has given me a great opportunity to compete in the Daytona 500 and I couldn’t be happier,” Dillon said. “I love superspeedway races and the Daytona 500 is the biggest of them all. Toyota has certainly proven itself in our sport and in the Daytona 500. I’m looking forward to racing with them and reuniting with Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee Company.”
Gaunt Brothers Racing has put particular emphasis on its superspeedway program in 2021. The team will unload a brand-new Toyota Camry for Dillon at Daytona with an engine built by Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A. (TRD).
“The best way to get a good start to your season is to have a good finish in the Daytona 500,” said Marty Gaunt, president, Gaunt Brothers Racing. “We’ve got a talented driver in Ty Dillon with a strong TRD engine plugged into the best equipment available. Together with Toyota, Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee Company, we’re ready to compete and surprise some people.”
Bass Pro Shops is a longtime supporter of Dillon. North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company was with Dillon for his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in July 2014 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories – August 2012 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, June 2013 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, and November 2013 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
“In addition to Ty’s competitive spirit and lifelong passion for racing, his love of fishing, hunting and the great outdoors makes him a great ambassador for Bass Pro Shops,” said noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris. “We know Ty lives for moments like the Daytona 500 just like we do, and we couldn’t be more excited for him to represent Bass Pro Shops in the biggest race of the year.”
Black Rifle Coffee Company is a premium, roast-to-order, veteran-owned coffee company that gives back to veterans in every cup. Founded by Evan Hafer, a Green Beret who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Black Rifle Coffee Company has quickly established itself as a strong brand with a growing community of loyal fans thanks to its delicious coffee and commitment to supporting veterans, law enforcement and first responders. The 2021 season marks its second year as a sponsor in NASCAR.
Dillon is the 2011 ARCA Menards Series champion. He has 10 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Daytona with three top-10 finishes, including a fourth-place drive in the 2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400
Then, Spire and Chip Ganassi Racing also announced another joint deal for the Daytona 500 too. Last year it was Ross Chastain driving the No. 77 Chevrolet. This year, it’s Jamie McMurray.
AdventHealth, one of the nation’s largest faith-based health systems, is set to compete again in the Great American Race too. Former Daytona 500 Champion McMurray will pilot the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro entry from Spire Motorsports as AdventHealth, a current team partner with Chip Ganassi Racing, sponsors a car in the NASCAR Cup Series season opener for the second consecutive season.
McMurray, a current NASCAR analyst on FOX, last competed in the Daytona 500 in 2019 following his retirement in 2018 from full-time NASCAR Cup Series racing. McMurray’s start in the 63rd Annual Daytona 500 will be his 18th career start in the race and comes exactly 11 years since he won the prestigious race, earning him the title of Daytona 500 Champion.
“It doesn’t get any better than the Daytona 500, and I am so excited to have the opportunity, thanks to AdventHealth, to run this race one more time,” said McMurray. “I have enjoyed my time out of the car as an analyst covering NASCAR, but nothing can replace the feeling of actually racing. And it’s great to be partnering with a company like AdventHealth for this race. We share a lot of the same goals about health and fitness, and I’m looking forward to using this opportunity to talk to race fans about the importance of staying healthy and feeling whole.”
McMurray and AdventHealth are no strangers. In addition to partnering together for the 2019 Clash at Daytona, McMurray had a relationship with AdventHealth while racing full-time with Chip Ganassi Racing. An avid runner and fitness advocate, McMurray joined AdventHealth during Speedweeks in 2018 to celebrate the grand opening of the Fit Park at ONE DAYTONA.
The last time the Daytona 500 ran Feb. 14 was in 2010, and that race was won by Jamie McMurray. In another turn of serendipity, as McMurray goes for his second Daytona 500 win, he will have the same spotter from his 2010 win guiding him around the track.
With 50 hospitals in almost a dozen states, iconic racetracks like Daytona International Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway are each located in close proximity to an AdventHealth market.
In addition to the sponsorship on the car, AdventHealth has been a Founding Partner of Daytona International Speedway since 2014. As the Official Healthcare Partner of Daytona International Speedway, AdventHealth cares for more than 1,000 patients each year on-site. In the event of an emergency, there are 11 AdventHealth ambulances, two care centers and nine first aid stations standing ready to care for drivers and fans alike. The AdventHealth injector– or gate entrance – at the Daytona Beach, Fla., track is a 20,000-plus-square-foot oasis. The health system’s injector features messages of health, well-being and wholeness, as well as interactive games that naturally tie the sport of racing to health and wellness, testing race fans’ hand-eye coordination – a vital skill on the racetrack.
So, where does that leave us in Silly Season. We’re 26 days away from the Daytona 500 and we’re almost set.
The only thing left is NY Racing Team and their plans, Tommy Baldwin Racing on if they’ll run and Team Penske if they plan to run Austin Cindric in the fourth car for the Great American Race.
RWR’s other seat is rumored to be going to James Davison. Penske may or may not bring the fifth car out for Austin Cindric for Daytona.
We have 42 cars announced with a potential for 45.
Hendrick Motorsports (4) – Chase Elliott is back through the 2022 season. William Byron and Alex Bowman each reached new deals with Byron through 2022 and Bowman through next season. Kyle Larson becomes the fourth driver.
Rick Ware Racing (4) – Joey Gase, Cody Ware and Josh Bilicki have secured rides for the team. They have 1 seat left.
Chip Ganassi Racing (2) – Kurt Busch is back in part of his multi-year deal with a new teammate in Ross Chastain.
Richard Childress Racing (2) – Tyler Reddick has already indicated that he’ll be back in 2021 with Austin Dillon as the teammate. There’s no reason to expand to a third car with their alliance with Trackhouse Entertainment Group and RPM still.
Spire (2) – The 77 will be back but they also purchased the assets to Leavine Family Racing too. LaJoie is in the newly branded the No. 7 Chevrolet entry with the 77 car to have multiple drivers in it. Jamie McMurray will drive the car in the Daytona 500.
Richard Petty Motorsports (1) – Erik Jones will drive this car in a new multi year deal.
JTG Daugherty Racing (1) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is back in the No. 47 Chevrolet
Trackhouse Entertainment Group (1) – Daniel Suarez is the driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet.
StarCom Racing (1) – Quin Houff signed a two-year deal and will be back in 2021.
Stewart-Haas Racing (4) – Three of their four drivers are back. Kevin Harvick has a deal through 2023, Aric Almirola has a one year extension while Cole Custer is back and I don’t see him leaving soon with who his dad is and his role with that team. Briscoe was announced as their driver in the 14.
Team Penske (3) – All three drivers are back in 2021. Logano and Blaney have multi year deals with Keselowski reportedly working on a one year extension.
Roush Fenway Racing (2) – Both Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher are expected back.
Front Row Motorsports (2) – Michael McDowell and Anthony Alfredo will race full time for them in 2021.
Wood Brothers (1) – Matt DiBenedetto is back for 2021 before moving way to Austin Cindric for 2022.
Live Fast Motorsports (1) – BJ McLeod will drive the car for this new team. They’ll keep the alliance with SHR that Go Fas Racing did.
Joe Gibbs Racing (4) – Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are all back for 2021. Christopher Bell slides in to replace Erik Jones in the No. 20 Toyota.
23XI (1) – Bubba Wallace
Non Charter Teams (7)
MBM Motorsports – Timmy Hill and Chad Finchum will be in these cars.
JTG Daugherty Racing (1) – Ryan Preece should be back in the No. 37 entry. Their charter was leased from Furniture Row Racing’s second car when they ended up closing shop but it’s not went elsewhere.
Front Row Motorsports (1) – David Ragan is in the No. 36 Ford
Beard Motorsports (1) – Noah Gragson was announced on Thursday to be driving the No. 62 Chevrolet
Kaulig Racing (1) – They’ll do more part time races in 2021 with the Daytona 500 being one of them. Kaz Grala will pilot the No. 16 Chevrolet in them.
Gaunt Brothers (1) – Ty Dillon will be in the No. 96 Toyota
Could Be Coming (3)
Penske (1) – They’ll bring out a fourth car for Austin Cindric for some races and the Daytona 500 is rumored to possibly be one of them.
NY Racing (1) – This is a new rumored team on the horizon.
Daytona 500 Numbered Entry List
00- Quin Houff (StarCom Racing Chevrolet)
1- Kurt Busch (Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet)
2- Brad Keselowski (Team Penske Ford)
3- Austin Dillon (RCR Chevrolet)
4- Kevin Harvick (SHR Ford)
5- Kyle Larson (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
6- Ryan Newman (Roush Fenway Racing Ford)
7- Corey LaJoie (Spire Motorsports Chevrolet)
8- Tyler Reddick (RCR Chevrolet)
9- Chase Elliott (HMS Chevrolet)
10- Aric Almirola (SHR Ford)
11- Denny Hamlin (JGR Toyota)
12- Ryan Blaney (Team Penske Ford)
13- Chad Finchum (MBM Ford) *Non Charter (could be a different car number too)
14- Chase Briscoe R (SHR Ford)
15- Derrike Cope (Rick Ware Racing/StarCom Chevrolet)
16- Kaz Grala R (Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) *Non Charter
17- Chris Buescher (RFR Ford)
18- Kyle Busch (JGR Toyota)
19- Martin Truex Jr. (JGR Toyota)
20- Christopher Bell (JGR Toyota)
21- Matt DiBenedetto (Wood Brothers Racing Ford)
22 – Joey Logano (Team Penske Ford)
23- Bubba Wallace (23XI Racing Toyota)
24- William Byron (HMS Chevrolet)
34- Michael McDowell (Front Row Motorsports Ford)
36- David Ragan (Front Row Motorsports Ford) *Non Charter
37 – Ryan Preece (JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet) *Non Charter
38- Anthony Alfredo R (Front Row Motorsports Ford)
43- Erik Jones (Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet)
41- Cole Custer (SHR Ford)
42- Ross Chastsain (CGR Chevrolet)
47- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet)
48- Alex Bowman (HMS Chevrolet)
51- Cody Ware (Petty Ware Racing Ford)
52- Josh Bilicki (Rick Ware Racing Ford)
53- Joey Gase (Rick Ware Racing Ford)
62- Noah Gragson R (Beard Motorsports Chevrolet) *Non Charter
66- Timmy Hill (MBM Ford) *Non Charter
77- Jamie McMurray (CGR/Spire Chevrolet)
78- BJ McLeod (Live Fast Motorsports Ford)
96- Ty Dillon (Gaunt Brothers Toyota) *Non Charter
99- Daniel Suarez (Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet)