Most of the rides in NASCAR for the 2020 season have now been taken. As we recently closed the book on the 2019 campaigns, the rides and who will go for the 2020 championship next year at the ISM Raceway in Phoenix are pretty much known.
In terms of the NASCAR Cup Series, really only Front Row Motorsports holds the final couple of seats in the annual game of musical chairs. We know that they want to remain a three car team and Michael McDowell is expected back in the No. 34 Ford. We also know that Matt Tifft and David Ragan won’t be returning to their respective rides.
So, who lands there? Well, lets eliminate some drivers who won’t be.
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.
Go Fas Racing previously announced an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing and on Tuesday announced that Corey LaJoie will return to the team for 2020 as well.
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, so does he land with another Ford team in FRR or step back to NXS with a more competitive ride?
For NXS, there could be a lot in the mix still. The top three drivers this season move up. Hemric, is moving back down and there’s a possibility Suarez does too. Chase Briscoe and John Hunter Nemechek are the top free agents and could be in play for the open seats at FRR. Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson and Michael Annett are all back with JR Motorsports.
Austin Cindric could come back, but he could also be in the mix at FRR as well. 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?
RCR will have a part time seat and wants a full time car, Suarez could make sense there too.
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 should be in the mix for the part-time role.
Todd Gilliland should slide over to replace the departing Ankrum with his dads team at DGR Crosley.
ThorSport has some announcements to unveil but I don’t see much of a change in their driver lineup coming.