NASCAR enters the 2021 season with a ton of momentum. Fox Sports’ new campaign labeling the upcoming year “the best season ever” holds a lot of merit. That’s because not only is the NASCAR Cup Series stacked, so are the two divisions under them as well.
See, not a lot of drivers were promoted up the ranks this past offseason. That greatly affects the talent pool as it gives the drivers in each respective series another year for growth. Then, when you factor in that those drivers dominated the season last year and they return again, it can only raise the ceiling even more for that timeframe that they’re around.
6 of the top 8 of the final Xfinity Series standings from a year ago return. Out of the 33 races run a in 2020, the returnees account for 21 race wins.
You have last year’s champion in Austin Cindric back with Team Penske. So is Championship 4 finalists Justin Allgaier and Justin Haley. You also have 10 of the 12 in last year’s playoffs not only back but 9 of which are also back with their same teams too – Noah Gragson, Michael Annett, Brandon Jones, Harrison Burton, Ryan Sieg and Brandon Brown are each back with their respective teams as well. Riley Herbst is back too but he switches from JGR to Stewart-Haas Racing in replacing Chase Briscoe.
Then you have to factor in Daniel Hemric coming back to the series on a full time basis in replacing Herbst and that’s 11 championship threats right there. But, you then have to account for Jeb Burton replacing Ross Chastain at Kaulig Racing as well as the organization bringing out a third car on a full time basis for AJ Allmendinger on top of Richard Childress Racing returning full time with Myatt Snider as their driver and you get a wild fight for the postseason. That’s 14 drivers for 12 spots.
I’m not even accounting for someone like Jeremy Clements who’s also back or even Brett Moffitt who moves up on a full time basis with Our Motorsports. He’s declaring Truck Series points but he’s still going to be a factor. Austin Hill will run for Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Toyota some. Sam Mayer and Josh Berry will split the No. 8 Chevrolet for JRM too.
Combined, that’s 18 cars capable of winning. The field is a strong one that’s for sure.
What about the part time ride at JGR?
We have new teams with Jordan Anderson, Big Machine Racing Team and RSS teaming up with the Reaume Brothers on a car.
Combined, we have 39 full time entrants with a potential for 8-10 more part time cars.
Good luck winning in this series in 2021 as it’s going to be a fight up front on a weekly basis as well as a fight at the bottom of the playoff standings just to get in. Then, as we march through the postseason, it’s going to be harder and harder eliminate drivers as the rounds go on, making this arguably the best season the Xfinity Series has ever seen.
Team Penske – Austin Cindric (No. 22 Chevrolet)
Stewart-Haas Racing – Riley Herbst (No. 98 Ford)
RSS – Ryan Sieg (No. 39 Chevrolet)
Joe Gibbs Racing – Daniel Hemric (No. 18 Toyota), Brandon Jones (No. 19 Toyota), Harrison Burton (No. 20 Toyota)
Sam Hunt Racing – Santino Ferrucci will drive the No. 26 Toyota for 20 races starting at Homestead. Brandon Gdovic as well as Kris Wright will share the car for the remaining 13.
JR Motorsports – Michael Annett (No. 1 Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier No. 7 Chevrolet), Noah Gragson (No. 9 Chevrolet), Sam Mayer, Josh Berry, Miguel Paludo and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Chevrolet)
Kaulig Racing – Jeb Burton (No. 10 Chevrolet), Justin Haley (No. 11 Chevrolet), AJ Allmendinger (No. 16 Chevrolet
JD Motorsports – Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 0 Chevrolet), Landon Cassill (No. 4 Chevrolet), Ryan Vargas (No. 6 Chevrolet), Colby Howard (No. 15 Chevrolet)
DGM Racing – Alex Labbe (No. 36 Chevrolet), Josh Williams (No. 92 Chevrolet), Caesar Bacarella, others (No. 90 Chevrolet)
Mike Harmon Racing – Kyle Weatherman (No. 47 Chevrolet), Bayley Currey (No. 74 Chevrolet)
Richard Childress Racing – Myatt Snider (No. 2 Chevrolet)
Our Motorsports – Brett Moffitt (No. 02 Chevrolet), Tyler Reddick, Blaine Perkins, others (No. 03 Chevrolet)
Big Machine Racing Team – Jade Buford (No. 48 Chevrolet)
SS Green Light – Joe Graf Jr. (No. 08 Chevrolet), No. 07 still open
BJ McLeod Motorsports – Matt Mills (No. 5 Chevrolet), Jesse Little (No. 78 Chevrolet), Josh Bilicki, Stefan Parsons, Mason Massey, Ryan Ellis, Vinnie Miller to run 1-2 more cars.
Jordan Anderson Racing – Jordan Anderson (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Brandonbilt – Brandon Brown (No. 68 Chevrolet)
Jeremy Clements Racing – Jeremy Clements (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Martins Motorsport – Tommy Joe Martins (No. 44 Chevrolet)
RSS Racing/Reaume Brothers – new partnership but ride is still open
Jimmy Means Racing – Gray Gaulding (No. 52 Chevrolet)
The big news of the offseason was that Thorsport will swap from Ford power to likely Toyota with their four seats still open.
This series has seen a lot of seats get taken lately too. DGR announced Hailie Deegan and Tanner Gray are back with them. Taylor Gray, Tanner’s younger brother, will drive seven races in the No. 17 Ford too. Derek Kraus is back in the No. 19 Toyota. Todd Gilliland is also back in the No. 38 Ford. 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 what was initially 12 races and now is a full time basis. John Hunter Nemechek will replace Lessard with KBM in the No. 4 Ford while Chandler Smith will move into Christian Eckes’ seat.
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.
We will see the entire top seven of last year’s points back with adding someone like Nemechek to the mix too and you get what should shape up to be a wild season as well.
Toyota (5 full time)
KBM will feature two new drivers with John Hunter Nemechek (No. 4 Toyota) and Chandler Smith (No. 18 Toyota). HRE will have Austin Hill in the No. 16 Toyota with Stewart Friesen in the No. 52 Toyota too. Then you have Derek Kraus back as well in the No. 19 Toyota.
Ford (4 full time)
The Ford camp will have Hailie Deegan in the No. 1 and Tanner Gray in the No. 15 Ford. Front Row Motorsports also has Todd Gilliland back in the No. 38 Ford. Cory Roper is back in the No. 04 Ford too.
Chevrolet (16 full time)
GMS will have defending series champion Sheldon Creed (No. 2 Chevrolet) to go with Zane Smith (No. 21 Chevrolet), Chase Purdy (No. 23 Chevrolet) and Tyler Ankrum (No. 26 Chevrolet). Raphael Lessard comes over via KBM to drive the No. 24 Chevrolet.
Niece Motorsports will have Ryan Truex (No. 40 Chevrolet), Carson Hocevar (No. 42 Chevrolet) and Brett Moffitt (No. 45 Chevrolet) as their drivers.
Spencer Boyd returns to Young’s Motorsports’ No. 20 Chevrolet as part of their two truck program.
Austin Wayne Self will be in the No. 22 Chevrolet with Tim Veins in the No. 49 Chevy too.
Rackley W.A.R. created a new team and will have Timothy Peters in the No. 25 Chevy.
There’s other smaller teams left as well.
ThorSport is the only outlier with it being expected that all four drivers being back and them moving to Toyota power.