The running of the 2021 Daytona 500 in 55 days

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Anthony Ballantoni
·7 min read
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Only 55 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 13th-placed Matt DiBenedetto’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: William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports #24 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 36 races, the Charlotte, NC native scored 1 win, 4 top-fives, 14 top-tens, had a 14.9 average start, a 16.19 average finish and led 140 laps. Due to his victory in the regular season-ending August 29th Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona, Byron made the NCS Playoffs Round of 16. He was eliminated before the Round of 12 and closed out the season 14th in the NCS standings.
2021: Byron is contracted through 2022 to pilot the #24 Camaro. It was announced that Byron’s crew chief Chad Knaus was promoted to VP of Competition at Hendrick Motorsports at the end of 2020. Rudy Fugle will make the calls from the pit box in 2021. Axalta and Liberty University continue as Byron’s primary sponsors.

2020: Matt DiBenedetto (Wood Brothers Racing #21 Ford Mustang) - In 36 races, the Grass Valley, CA native scored 3 top-fives, 11 top-tens, had a 14.0 average start, a 14.75 average finish and led 91 laps. His best finishes were both at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He finished 2nd to Joey Logano in the February 23rd Pennzoil 400 and also 2nd to Kurt Busch in the September 27th South Point 400. At the end of the regular season, DiBenedetto was 16th in points which earned him a spot in the NCS Playoffs Round of 16. He was eliminated before the Round of 12 and closed out the season 13th in the NCS standings.
2021: DiBenedetto's contract was ending after the 2020 season but Wood Brothers Racing extended it for one more year. XFINITY Series driver Austin Cindric is scheduled to take over the #21 Ford in 2022. Team Penske has an option to pick up DiBenedetto's contract for 2022. For now, DiBenedetto will continue at Wood Brothers, Greg Erwin returns as crew chief and Motorcraft/Quick Lane will also be the primary sponsor for the #21 Mustang.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS)

2020: Josh Williams (DGM Racing #92 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Port Charlotte, FL native scored 6 top-tens, had an 18.9 average start, an 18.64 average finish, led 2 laps and closed out the season 14th in the NXS standings. His best finish was 6th in the Kansas Lottery 300 on October 17th at Kansas Speedway. Williams won the 3rd-quarter National Motorsports Press Association Pocono Spirit Award for his hospital tours benefiting seriously ill children. For each annual season-ending race, his car carries a paint scheme with the names and handprints of the children he’s met with during his travels.
2021: Williams will run another full season in the DGM #92. No official word yet on crew chief (Adam Brenner held that spot in 2020) or sponsors for the team.

2020: Jeremy Clements (Jeremy Clements Racing #51 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Spartanburg, SC native scored 1 top-five, 5 top-tens, had a 17.3 average start, a 17.39 average finish, led 12 laps and closed out the season 13th in the NXS standings. His best finish was 3rd in the June 28th Pocono Green 225 at Pocono Raceway.
2021: Owner/Driver Clements will be back for the full season in the #51 Camaro. Andrew Abbott, Clements’ crew chief for the past two years, will be replaced by Mark Setzer for the new year. No sponsorship news for the #51 team at this time.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NTS)

2020: Tanner Gray (DGR Crosley #15 Ford F-150) - In 23 races, the Artesia, NM native scored 4 top-fives, 8 top-tens, had a 15.4 average start, a 16.13 average finish, led 4 laps and closed out his rookie season 14th in the truck series standings. His best truck series finishes were 3rd places in the Aug. 7th Henry Ford Health System 200 at Michigan Int’l Speedway, the Sept. 17th UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Sept. 25th World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gray also drove DGR Crosley’s #17 Ford in 6 of the ARCA Menards Series 20-race season scoring 2 top-fives, 3 top-tens and averaged a 10.3 finish.
2021: DGR-Crosley has not firmed up their driver assignments for the Camping World Trucks and ARCA series but Tanner Gray will most likely be present in the lineup.

2020: Johnny Sauter (ThorSport Racing #13 Ford F-150) - In 23 races, the Necedah, WI native scored 3 top-fives, 8 top-tens, had a 12.7 average start, a 17.09 average finish, led 79 laps and closed out the season 13th in the truck series standings. His best truck series finish
was a 2nd place in the February 21st Strat 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
2021: Sauter is expected to return for his 3rd season in ThorSport’s #13 Ford F-150. No changes announced including Joe Shear Jr. as crew chief and sponsors Tenda Heal, Sakar, Vivitar and Altex Lansing.

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