We’re less than a month away from the NASCAR season starting up again. As we head into the weekend in mid January, only a few rides are even still left.
The most recent rides announced in the NASCAR Cup Series was Brennan Poole driving the No. 15 entry for Premium Motorsports, Corey LaJoie for Go Fas Racing and Front Row Motorsports announcing that Michael McDowell will return in the No. 34 Ford while John Hunter Nemechek will replace the retiring David Ragan in the No. 38 Ford.
Now, what’s left?
Really, it’s just whatever FRM does with the No. 36 Ford and its charter and the few field fuller rides. That’s it.
Kurt Busch practicing his No. 1 Chevrolet with Chip Ganassi Racing last season in Daytona
Kurt Busch will be back with Chip Ganassi Racing. Erik Jones is back with Joe Gibbs Racing. The “Big 3” in the NASCAR XFINITY Series all move up to Cup with Christopher Bell replacing Matt DiBenedetto with Leavine Family Racing, Tyler Reddick replacing Daniel Hemric at Richard Childress Racing and Cole Custer stepping up into the No. 41 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing in a replacement role for Daniel Suarez.
Two of those three drivers that are being replaced have found work elsewhere now too. DiBenedetto shifts to the Wood Brothers to replacing the retiring Paul Menard. Hemric, will move back to the XFINITY Series and share the No. 8 Chevrolet with JR Motorsports.
Other moves are virtually a ride swap between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chris Buescher. Stenhouse, replaces Buescher at JTG Daugherty Racing while Buescher moves back to Roush Fenway Racing and will drive the No. 17 Ford. Stenhouse though, will drive the No. 47 Chevrolet while Ryan Preece slides over to the No. 37 Chevy.
The top driver domino now has to be Daniel Suarez. SHR wanted to retain him as he had 95-percent of the funding available. He has money but now no where to go in Cup. It looks like his final prospects are with the No. 96 Toyota for Gaunt Brothers.
For NXS, there’s not much full time left in the mix The top three drivers this season move up, but Hemric is moving back down and there’s a possibility Suarez does too. All signs point to Austin Cindric returning to Penske. Chase Briscoe just reupped with Stewart-Haas Racing. Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson and Michael Annett are all back with JR Motorsports. Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones and Riley Herbst will race full time for JGR and compete for a championship. Ross Chastain and Justin Haley will race full time with Kaulig Racing.
We do have openings for Custer’s car at SHR as well as Tyler Reddick’s with RCR. Do those get filled? SHR’s doesn’t seem to be likely as the team has stated that they will run just one full time car. RCR has Myatt Snider, Anthony Alfredo and Austin Dillon in the No. 21 Chevrolet part-time but searching for a full-time driver too. Suarez, would fit nicely in that full time role.
These are the championship contending rides.
In Trucks, GMS is set now with Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt, Zane Smith and Tyler Ankrum. Kyle Busch Motorsports named Raphael Lessard and Christian Eckes as the full time drivers in 2020. Chandler Smith will race on a part-time role.
Todd Gilliland should slide over to replace the departing Ankrum with his dads team at DGR Crosley while Tanner Gray will race in the other car full time. ThorSport will keep the same team in tact as well.
Austin Hill returns to Hattori Racing Enterprises as does Stewart Friesen with Halmar but his team moves to Toyota with a KBM alliance.
Niece Motorsports signed Ty Majeski full time and Carson Hocevar part-time too.
Other than that, the rest is pretty much just part time roles for smaller teams.