48 days to NASCAR’s season opener in Daytona

Anthony Ballantoni
·7 min read

Only 48 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 11th-placed Austin Dillon’s 2020 NASCAR season and snapshots on 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: Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing #14 Ford Mustang) - In 36 races, the Emporia, Kansas native scored 2 top-fives, 12 top-tens, had a 13.0 average start, a 14.69 average finish and led 280 laps. His best finish was runner-up to race-winner Brad Keselowski (by 0.471 seconds) in the May 31st Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. At the end of the regular season, Bowyer was 13th in points which earned him a spot in the NCS Playoffs Round of 16. He also made it into the Round of 12 but was eliminated before the start of the Round of 8. He closed out the season 12th in the NCS standings.
2021: The 2020 season finale at Phoenix was also Bowyer’s final full-time race in NASCAR. He has joined the FOX Sports team covering the live broadcasts of NCS races alongside former Cup driver Jeff Gordon beginning in February. SHR XFINITY Series driver Chase Briscoe has moved up to drive SHR’s #14 Cup entry this season.

2020: Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 35 races of the 36 run (he missed the Aug. 16th race at the Daytona Road Course due to a positive Covid-19 test result), the Lewisville, North Carolina native scored 1 win, 4 top-fives, 9 top-tens, had a 15.4 average start, a 16.17 average finish and led 135 laps. His victory in the July 19th O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway earned him a spot in the Playoffs Round of 16. He also made it into the Round of 12 but was eliminated before the start of the Round of 8. He closed out the season 12th in the NCS standings.
2021: Austin Dillon will continue driving his Grandfather’s #3 Chevrolet at least through next season. Crew chief Justin Alexander will return as well. No word on firmed-up sponsorship at this time.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS)

2020: Riley Herbst (Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Toyota Supra) - In 33 races, the Las Vegas, Nevada native scored 4 top-fives, 17 top-tens, had an 11.3 average start, a 15.97 average finish and led 15 laps. At the end of the regular season, Herbst was 10th in points which earned him a spot in the NXS Playoffs Round of 12. He was eliminated before the start of the Round of 8. He finished the season 12th in the NXS standings. His best results were 2nd place finishes in the Feb. 29th Production Alliance Group 300 at the Auto Club Speedway and the July 9th Shady Rays 200 at the Kentucky Speedway. Herbst also drove JGR’s #18 Toyota in 4 ARCA Menards Series races. He started on the pole in 2 races, won at Michigan and finished 3rd, 4th and 7th in the other 3 events.
2021: Herbst decided to leave JGR at the end of 2020. As noted above, Chase Briscoe moved up to Cup to drive Clint Bowyer’s #14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing. Riley Herbst has been hired to take over Briscoe’s #98 Ford Mustang for SHR in 2021. Crew chief Richard Boswell II stays on to lead the #98 team. Monster Energy will be Herbst’s primary sponsor.

2020: Brandon Brown (Brandonbilt Motorsports #68 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Woodbridge, Virginia native scored 1 top-five, 6 top-tens, had a 14.6 average start, a 15.97 average finish and led 9 laps. At the end of the regular season, Brown was 12th in points which earned him a spot in the NXS Playoffs Round of 12. He was eliminated before the start of the Round of 8 and closed out the season 11th in the NXS standings. His best finish was a 5th place in the Oct. 24th O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway.
2021: Brown’s family-owned team plans on entering another full season. Doug Randolph will return as crew chief for the #68 team. Sponsorship has not been announced.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NTS)

2020: Raphael Lessard (Kyle Busch Motorsports #4 Toyota Tundra) - In 23 races, the St. Joseph de Beauce, Quebec native scored 1 victory (Oct. 3rd Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Talladega Superspeedway), 4 top-fives, 7 top-tens, had a 13.0 average start, a 15.26 average finish, led 19 laps and closed out the season 12th in the truck series standings.
2021: Lessard announced he has left the KBM team and has moved to GM Racing for 2021. He will pilot a Chevrolet Silverado (possibly the #24) in at least 12 NTS races. No word yet on who will be his crew chief or sponsors. John Hunter Nemechek has been hired to drive KBM’s #4 Tundra this season.

2020: Derek Kraus (McAnally-Hilgemann Racing #19 Toyota Tundra) - In 23 races, the Stratford, Wisconsin native scored 3 top-fives, 13 top-tens, had a 13.0 average start, a 12.96 average finish, led 31 laps and finished his rookie season 11th in the truck series standings. His best result was a 2nd place finish in the Sept. 6th South Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Darlington Raceway.
2021: Kraus will return for another full-time season in MHR’s #19 NAPA Filters Toyota Tundra. His 2020 crew chief, Kevin Bellicourt, has moved up to the Cup series to lead Spire Motorsports #77 Chevrolet team. Matt Noyce joins MHR as the #19 crew chief after serving in that role for Ben Rhodes in the truck series for the past two years.

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

-

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