34 days remaining before the 2021 Daytona 500

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Anthony Ballantoni
·8 min read
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Only 34 days remain before the green flag drops to start the NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500. Here is a brief look at Cup Series 7th-placed Martin Truex Jr.’s 2020 NASCAR season and snapshots on a few other drivers who finished in the Top-20 across NASCAR’s three premium series. The tentative list of 2021 Cup Driver/Team lineups attached shows only those teams who plan on entering all events. Since some have yet to announce their 2021 plans, follow NASCAR Headlines and "Player" News on this site for the latest driver/team updates.

NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)

2020: Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Toyota Camry) - In 36 races, the Las Vegas, Nevada native scored 1 win (Oct. 28th Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway), 14 top-fives, 20 top-tens, had a 9.9 average start, a 13.83 average finish and led 516 laps. At the end of the regular season, Busch was 9th in points which earned him a spot in the NCS Playoffs Round of 16. He advanced to the Round of 12, also into the Round of 8 but was cut before the season-ending Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway. He closed out the season 8th in the NCS standings. Busch also entered 5 XFINITY Series races scoring one victory (the Alsco 300, May 25th at Charlotte) and 5 Truck Series races winning 3 events (Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami and Fort Worth).
2021: Busch is signed with JGR through at least the 2022 season. Ben Beshore will replace Adam Stevens as crew chief for the #18 team. M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers, Pedigree and Interstate Batteries are committed as primary sponsors again this season.

2020: Martin Truex Jr. (Joe Gibbs Racing #19 Toyota Camry) - In 36 races, the Mayetta, New Jersey native scored 1 win, 14 top-fives, 23 top-tens, had a 9.6 average start, an 11.69 average finish and led 950 laps. At the end of the regular season, Truex’s June 10th victory in the Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway earned him a spot in the NCS Playoffs Round of 16. He advanced to the Round of 12, also into the Round of 8 but was cut before the season-ending Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway. He closed out the season 7th in the NCS standings.
2021: Truex is signed with JGR through at least the 2021 season. James Small will return as crew chief for the #19 team. Clayton Hughes has been replaced by Drew Herring as spotter. Hughes has been spotting for Truex since he joined Furniture Row Racing in 2014 and followed him to JGR in 2019 after Furniture Row closed shop. He contributed to Truex’s 25 wins and his 2017 Cup Series championship. Sponsorship was not announced so far.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS)

2020: Harrison Burton (Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Toyota Supra) - In 33 races, the Huntersville, North Carolina native scored 4 wins (Auto Club Speedway, Homestead-Miami, Texas Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway), 15 top-fives, 22 top-tens, had a 7.8 average start, a 10.0 average finish and led 291 laps. At the end of the regular season, his wins (he only needed one) earned him a spot in the NXS Playoffs Round of 12. He made it through the Round of 12, advanced to the Round of 8 but was eliminated before the start of the series season-ending Championship 4 event at Phoenix. Burton closed out the season 8th in the NXS standings. After the four-win rookie campaign, Burton also earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.
2021: Burton will return to the JGR #20 Toyota full-time. As noted above, his 2020 crew chief Ben Beshore moved up to the Cup series to lead Kyle Busch’s team. Jason Ratcliff returns to the NXS to take over that spot for Burton’s #20 team. No firm word on sponsors but DEX Imaging will likely cover some races.

2020: Ross Chastain (Kaulig Racing #10 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Alva, Florida native scored 15 top-fives, 27 top-tens, had a 7.7 average start, an 8.24 average finish and led 553 laps. At the end of the regular season, Chastain was 3rd in points which earned him a spot in the NXS Playoffs Round of 12. He made it through the Round of 12, advanced to the Round of 8 but was eliminated before the start of the series season-ending Championship 4 event at Phoenix. Chastain closed out the season 7th in the NXS standings.
2021: Chastain moves up to the CUP series replacing Matt Kenseth (who decided to return to limited racing) in Chip Ganassi Racing’s #42 Chevrolet Camaro. Jeb Burton has signed on to pilot the Kaulig Racing #10 Chevrolet in 2021. Chastain’s crew chief and sponsors are yet to
be announced.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NTS)

2020: Christian Eckes (Kyle Busch Motorsports #18 Toyota Tundra) - In 23 races, the Middletown, New York native scored 7 top-fives, 11 top-tens, had a 6.4 average start, a 12.3 average finish and led 179 laps. At the end of the regular season, Eckes was 7th in points which earned him a spot in the NTS Playoffs Round of 10. He was eliminated from the playoffs before the start of the Round of 8 and closed out 2020 8th in the standings. Eckes’ best 2020 results were runner-up finishes; 2nd to CUP regular/KBM team owner Kyle Busch on July 18th at Texas Motor Speedway, 2nd to Matt Crafton on July 25th at Kansas Speedway and 2nd to Zane Smith on Aug. 7th at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
2021: After his first full season in the Truck Series, Eckes finds himself without a ride. KBM has replaced him with Chandler Smith in the #18 Tundra. Eckes recently hinted on Twitter that he “could possibly be headed back to Venturini Motorsports” in the ARCA Menards Series, but nothing has been announced at this time.

2020: Ben Rhodes (ThorSport Racing #99 Ford F-150) - In 23 races, the Louisville, Kentucky native scored 1 win, 9 top-fives, 14 top-tens, had a 7.2 average start, a 9.96 average finish and led 103 laps. At the end of the regular season, his victory in the Sept. 6th South Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Darlington Raceway earned him a spot in the NTS Playoffs Round of 10. He made the cut for the Round of 8 but was eliminated from the playoffs before the series season-ending Championship 4 event. Rhodes closed out the season 7th in the standings.
2021: The only news so far is this statement from ThorSports website: “In 2021 Ben (Rhodes) once again joins ThorSport owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson with the team’s No. 99 Ford F-150.”

2021 Tentative NCS Series Team Chart

Car

Driver

Owner

Crew Chief

Sponsor

00 Chevy

Quin Houff

StarCom Racing

George Church

-

1 Chevy

Kurt Busch

Chip Ganassi Racing

Matt McCall

Monster Energy

2 Ford

Brad Keselowski

Team Penske

Jeremy Bullins

Discount Tire

3 Chevy

Austin Dillon

Richard Childress Racing

Justin Alexander

-

4 Ford

Kevin Harvick

Stewart-Haas Racing

Rodney Childers

Busch Beer, Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers Pizza

5 Chevy

Kyle Larson

Hendrick Motorsports

Cliff Daniels

-

6 Ford

Ryan Newman

Roush Fenway Racing

Scott Graves

Oscar Mayer, Wyndham Rewards, Castrol, Guaranteed Rate

7 Chevy

Corey LaJoie

Spire Motorsports

Ryan Sparks

-

8 Chevy

Tyler Reddick

Richard Childress Racing

Randall Burdett

Okuma

9 Chevy

Chase Elliott

Hendrick Motorsports

Alan Gustafson

NAPA Auto Parts, Hooters, LLumar

10 Ford

Aric Almirola

Stewart-Haas Racing

Mike Bugarewics

Smithfield

11 Toyota

Denny Hamlin

Joe Gibbs Racing

Chris Gabehart

FedEx

12 Ford

Ryan Blaney

Team Penske

Todd Gordon

-

14 Ford

Chase Briscoe - R

Stewart-Haas Racing

-

HighPoint

15 Chevy

-

Rick Ware Racing

Pat Tryson

-

17 Ford

Chris Buescher

Roush Fenway Racing

Luke Lambert

Castrol

18 Toyota

Kyle Busch

Joe Gibbs Racing

Ben Beshore

M&Ms, Skittles, Pedigree, Interstate Batteries

19 Toyota

Martin Truex Jr.

Joe Gibbs Racing

James Small

Auto Owners Ins.

20 Toyota

Christopher Bell

Joe Gibbs Racing

Adam Stevens

Rheem, Craftsman

21 Ford

Matt DiBenedetto

Wood Brothers Racing

Greg Erwin

Motorcraft/Quick Lane

22 Ford

Joey Logano

Team Penske

Paul Wolfe

Shell-Pennzoil, AAA, Autotrader, MoneyLion

23 Toyota

Bubba Wallace

23XI Racing

Mike Wheeler

DoorDash, McDonald’s, Columbia Sportswear, Dr Pepper, Root Insurance

24 Chevy

William Byron

Hendrick Motorsports

Rudy Fugle

Axalta, Liberty University

34 Ford

Michael McDowell

Front Row Motorsports

Drew Blickensderfer

-

37 Chevy

Ryan Preece

JTG Daugherty Racing

Trent Owens

Kroger, Bush's Beans

38 Ford

Anthony Alfredo - R

Front Row Motorsports

Seth Barbour

-

41 Ford

Cole Custer

Stewart-Haas Racing

Mike Shiplett

-

42 Chevy

Ross Chastain

Chip Ganassi Racing

-

McDonald's

43 Chevy

Erik Jones

Richard Petty Motorsports

Jerry Baxter

Victory Junction

47 Chevy

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

JTG Daugherty Racing

Brian Pattie

Kroger, NOS Energy Drink

48 Chevy

Alex Bowman

Hendrick Motorsports

Greg Ives

Ally Financial

51 Chevy

-

Rick Ware Racing

Jason Houghtaling

Biohaven Pharmaceuticals’ Nurtec

52 Chevy

-

Rick Ware Racing

Mike Hillman Sr.

-

53 Chevy

-

Rick Ware Racing

Todd Parrott

-

66 Ford

Timmy Hill

MBM Motorsports

Steven Idol

-

77 Chevy

-

Spire Motorsports

Kevin Bellicourt

-

78 Ford

BJ McLeod

Live Fast Motorsports

-

Keen Parts

96 Toyota

-

Gaunt Brothers Racing

-

-

99 Chevy

Daniel Suarez

Trackhouse Racing

Travis Mack

-

R - Rookie of The Year contender