There were three main NASCAR Cup Series drivers that many wondered where they’d end up once the music stopped in this high speed game of musical chairs. Two of them, have found seats before the tunes stopped. The other? Well, he’s looking more and more likely at a part-time role at best, if anything at all.
See, when JTG Daugherty Racing announced last summer that they’d scale back from a one car to a two car team and that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would be in that ride, it left us wondering where Ryan Preece would fit in. Most top rides had someone already in it.
Same for Matt DiBenedetto when it was confirmed despite a glimmer of hope that he would be out at the Wood Brothers. Nothing favorable was out there.
What about Ryan Newman? Roush Fenway Racing was being bought into by Brad Keselowski. The team and Ford wasn’t about to cut ties with Chris Buescher and despite Keselowski coming on, there were no plans for three full-time cars again. The writing was on the wall for Keselowski to take over the No. 6 Ford leaving Newman on the outside looking in.
Where would these three now land?
There were plenty of changes already done and other teams staying status quo.
Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Live Fast Motorsports didn’t make any changes. Chip Ganassi Racing sold both cars and their building to Trackhouse. Ross Chastain would shift from Ganassi to Trackhouse in the process and essentially taking over the No. 1 Chevrolet from Kurt Busch.
Busch, then shifted to the newly formed second team at 23XI Racing and will drive the No. 45 Toyota.
Team Penske had no plans for expansion and replaced Keselowski with Austin Cindric in the No. 2 Ford and replacing the initial plan of Cindric to the Wood Brothers in the No. 21 Ford to Harrison Burton instead.
Front Row Motorsports kept Michael McDowell but replaced Anthony Alfredo with Todd Gilliland. Alfredo, steps back down to Xfinity Series with OUR Motorsports.
Richard Petty Motorsports merged essentially with GMS to form a two-car team leaving Erik Jones in the famed No. 43 Chevrolet and teaming him with Ty Dillon who’ll drive the No. 45 Chevrolet.
Kaulig Racing bought two charters from Spire and will use Justin Haley in the No. 31 Chevrolet and all three of their Xfinity Series drivers in the No. 16 Chevrolet. With JTG scaling back a car and that car not being chartered anyways, this is all basically a wash right now.
StarCom sold their charter to 23XI Racing so that leaves Spire and Rick Ware Racing with the only real openings left in NASCAR’s premiere series.
The reason for Spire even though they’re bringing back Corey LaJoie to the No. 7 Chevrolet is that they’re after one of the three charters RWR has. See, RWR wants to be a two car outfit and held four charters for 2021. One of those charters was leased with RPM but that one ended up with GMS now.
That left RWR with three charters. Rumor is, Spire wants a second charter back and is pursuing buying one of RWR’s leaving them with two now.
This is where this all ties in. On Thursday morning, it was announced that Preece was signed on as a developmental driver with Stewart-Haas Racing. He’ll run a total of 12 races – two in Cup, three in Xfinity and seven in Truck. His Cup and Xfinity Series races will be in coordination with SHR and its technical alliance partners. His Truck Series starts will come with David Gilliland Racing.
By process of elimination, it would make sense that Preece will run one of the Rick Ware Racing cars since they’ve formed an alliance with SHR in Cup. That would put him in one of the two RWR cars meaning that at least one of their two chartered cars will be a cast of drivers.
A few hours later, Rackley W.A.R. announced that DiBenedetto will be full-time in their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ride.
So, with really a couple of opportunities in Cup with Spire’s second car or one of RWR’s cars, Newman appears to be the odd man out from the grid last year.
The 2021 charter list.
Hendrick Motorsports (No. 5, No. 9, No. 24, No. 48)
Stewart-Haas Racing (No. 4, No. 10, No. 14, No. 41)
Joe Gibbs Racing (No. 11, No. 18, No. 19, No. 20)
Rick Ware Racing (No. 52, No. 53, No. 15)
Team Penske (No. 2, No. 12, No. 22)
Richard Childress Racing (No. 3, No. 8)
Roush Fenway Racing (No. 6, No. 17)
Chip Ganassi Racing (No. 1, No. 42)
Front Row Motorsports (No. 34, No. 38)
JTG Daugherty Racing (No. 47)
23XI Racing (No. 23)
Wood Brothers (No. 21)
Spire Sports (No. 7, No. 77)
Spire Sports (No. 99) *leased to Trackhouse Racing
Richard Petty Motorsports (No. 43)
Live Fast Motorsports (No. 78)
StarCom Racing (No. 00)
Petty Ware Racing (No. 51)
For 2022, the list remains somewhat similar
Hendrick Motorsports (No. 5, No. 9, No. 24, No. 48) *no changes
Joe Gibbs Racing (No. 11, No. 18, No. 19, No. 20) *no changes
Stewart-Haas Racing (No. 4, No. 10, No. 14, No. 41) *no changes
Team Penske (No. 2, No. 12, No. 22) *Cindric replaces Keselowski in the No. 2
Roush Fenway Racing (No. 6, No. 17) *Keselowski replaces Ryan Newman in the No. 6
Richard Childress Racing (No. 3, No. 8) *no changes
Trackhouse Racing (No. 1, No. 99) *team bought out Chip Ganassi Racing, Chastain takes over the No. 1
Front Row Motorsports (No. 34, No. 38) *McDowell is back in the 34, Todd Gilliland is in the 38
23XI Racing (2 charters, No. 23, No. 45) *Bubba Wallace will be back in 2022, Kurt Busch is in the 2nd car.
Kaulig Racing (2 charters, numbers TBA) – Justin Haley in 1 car, AJ Allmendinger to share the 2nd car with other driver. Charters purchased from Spire.
Petty GMS Racing (2 charters) – Erik Jones will be in the 43 with Ty Dillon in the 42.
Wood Brothers (No. 21) *Harrison Burton replaces Matt DiBenedetto for 2022
JTG Daugherty Racing (No. 47) *Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is back.
Spire Sports (No. 7) *Corey LaJoie back in the No. 7, they sold other 2 charters for Kaulig. Still after a 2nd charter to be back as a 2 car team again.
Live Fast Motorsports (No. 78) *Team not selling a charter, looking for drivers for 2022.
Rick Ware Racing (No. 52, No. 53, No. 15) *How many of these charters are back?
Spire – No. 77 Chevrolet is open should they find a charter from RWR
Rick Ware Racing – all their seats are open, likely 2 here
Daytona 500 Only Has 37 Entries On It Still
The 36 charters are listed above. There’s going to be 36 cars in Daytona. Here’s the problem, do we have more than four open cars coming?
Here’s where a problem with the charters has become, you’re guaranteed to have 36 cars, but there’s not much incentive for more. It costs more and the payout is lower for non chartered cars and what’s scary is, we’re flirting with not even having a full field for next month’s Daytona 500.
We know Beard Motorsports is with Brendan Gaughan. That’s 37. Is anyone else showing up?
GMS, 23XI Racing and Kaulig Racing each found charters so they don’t have to run as open cars this year. JTG isn’t showing up with an open car anymore. Team Penske isn’t either for Austin Cindric since he moves up to a full-time ride.
That’s three open cars (JTG, Kaulig, Penske) from last year now gone. Will the Gaunt Brothers return? What about MBM Motorsports? That’s three more cars that could be gone.
What about a third Front Row Motorsports car?
That takes us from 44 cars last year to a reduction of seven cars which brings us now to 37. The 38th car could be Team Hezeberg who now looks like they’ll likely show up to Daytona with Jacques Villeneuve since they’re testing in the open test next week.
Where do the other two cars come from to fill the field and will anymore show up to help the Duels mean something?
In 2018, there were no extra cars with 40 cars showing up for 40 spots.
In 2019, we had six open cars meaning two wouldn’t make it
2020 saw seven open cars and 2021 with eight. Now, we could be back to 40 cars for 40 spots or even worse, less.
This is something to keep an eye out on.
Xfinity Series Silly Season
While we have a lot of good talent moving up to the Cup Series, once again, the Xfinity Series replenishes these seats with some top talent. 3 of the top 7 in points move up to Cup, but the guys left and ones now joining will make 2022 just as good as 2021.
In terms of what’s left to announce, Chevrolet has pretty much set their lineups with Toyota and Ford having some vacancies left.
RCR may be the busiest team in the sport with Kaulig, Jordan Anderson Racing, BrandonBuilt, Big Machine and Our Motorsports all involved with them. The thing is, only BrandonBuilt’s plans may have been altered due to the chaos surrounding their sponsorship package.
Kaulig Racing keeps AJ Allmendinger in the No. 16 Chevrolet but also named Landon Cassill to the No. 10 Chevy and defending champion Daniel Hemric to the No. 11 Chevrolet. They’ll be aligned with Richard Childress Racing too. So will Jordan Anderson Racing who has Myatt Snider driving their No. 31 Chevrolet. As will BrandonBuilt who will have Brandon Brown in the No. 68 Chevrolet should they now find the resouces to compete. Big Machine is also aligned and will have Jade Buford in the No. 48 Chevrolet. So is Our Motorsports who will feature three cars next season with Brett Moffitt, Jeb Burton and Anthony Alfredo. RCR themselves will feature a two car lineup again with Sheldon Creed in the No. 2 Chevrolet and Austin Hill in the second car.
JR Motorsports will have Josh Berry, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Sam Mayer in their four car team next season.
Jeremy Clements will be back in his No. 51 Chevrolet while DGM Racing will have Mason Massey in the No. 91 Chevrolet for one of their cars.
Alpine Prime Racing will have varying drivers in this No. 44 Chevrolet seat with Sage Karam, Ryan Ellis and another driver or two in the No. 45 Chevrolet.
That’s the Chevy confirmations at the moment.
Toyota will have Joe Gibbs Racing back but they’ll scale down to three cars again. Brandon Jones will be back in the No. 19 Toyota while all signs are pointing to defending ARCA champion Ty Gibbs in the No. 18 Toyota. The No. 20 Toyota will likely be an all-star car.
Sam Hunt Racing is back with the No. 26 Toyota but hasn’t listed any drivers yet.
In the Ford camp, Riley Herbst is back in the No. 98 Ford for SHR. RSS Racing will have Ryan Sieg and Parker Retzlaff in the second car on a part-time basis. We don’t yet know Team Penske’s plans but they will be on track at some point. Is it full-time or part-time for the No. 22 Ford?
BJ McLeod Motorsports will feature Josh Williams in the No. 78 and Stefan Parsons in the No. 99. Nick Sanchez will drive a third car part-time for them.
Joey Gase Racing will have Joey Gase in the No. 35.
Jesse Iwuji Motorsports will have a team too.
Does Hattori Racing Enterprises come back? What’s JDM’s plans? They have Bayley Currey in one car but what about the others? These are the next announcements coming with SHR (2nd car?), Penske and JGR (Gibbs announcement) left.
Truck Series Silly Season
DGR will have Hailie Deegan and Zane Smith. We know Kyle Busch Motorsports returns both drivers from 2021 in John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 4 Toyota and Chandler Smith in the No. 18 Toyota. Hattori Racing Enterprises will now become a two Truck team and named Tyler Ankrum (16 Toyota) Chase Purdy (61 Toyota) as their drivers. On Point Motorsports signed Tate Fogleman to drive the No. 30 Toyota too. Other Toyota teams are Halmar Friesen Racing who will have Stewart Friesen return to their No. 52 Toyota and Todd Bodine part-time in a second entry. Timmy Hill will drive the No. 56 Toyota for Hill Motorsports while ThorSport will at least have Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton back. They have two seats open for the taking.
GMS Racing will scale back to two Trucks since they now own two Cup teams and have Grant Enfinger in the No. 23 Chevrolet and Jack Wood in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Smith and Sheldon Creed depart for new rides with Creed now with Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series. The thing is, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing has aligned with GMS and will likely have Derek Kraus in the now No. 19 Chevrolet for 2022. They were with Toyota this past season. Colby Howard will drive the second truck which makes up for the other two Trucks that GMS won’t be using.
Niece Motorsports has filled out their roster. Carson Hocevar is the only one returning as he’ll pilot the No. 42 Chevrolet. Dean Thompson (No. 40 Chevrolet), Kris Wright (No. 44 Chevrolet) and Lawless Alan (No. 45 Chevrolet) will pair with him.
Spire has started a Truck team but has their seat open for the taking now too leaving them and ThorSport left with announcements.