We’re less than a month away from the NASCAR season starting up again. In fact, we’re a few weeks from the Clash being run in Daytona. With Daniel Suarez being announced as the driver of the No. 96 Toyota for the Gaunt Brothers, most of the rides are now filled.
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. For the Daytona 500, the No. 36 Ford charter will be run with Rick Ware Racing partnering and David Ragan returning to the series for one last ride.
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.
That left the top driver domino as Daniel Suarez. SHR wanted to retain him as he had 95-percent of the funding available. He had money but now no where to go in Cup. Now, he does.
Hendrick Motorsports (4) – Chase Elliott, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman
Chip Ganassi Racing (2) – Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson
JTG Daugherty Racing (2) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Preece
Richard Childress Racing (2) – Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick R
Germain Racing (1) – Ty Dillon
Richard Petty Motorsports (1) – Bubba Wallace
StarCom Racing (1) – Quin Houff R
Premium Motorsports (1) – Brennan Poole R
Spire Motorsports (1) – Ross Chastain (Daytona 500, Coke 600 only)
Beard Motorsports (1) – Brendan Gaughan (4 races)
Kaulig Racing (1) – Justin Haley (Daytona 500 only)
Stewart-Haas Racing (4) – Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Cole Custer R
Team Penske (3) – Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano
Rick Ware Racing (3 FT, 4th PT) – Joey Gase, JJ Yeley, David Ragan (Daytona 500 only), Natalie Decker (Daytona 500 only)
Roush Fenway Racing (2) – Ryan Newman, Chris Buescher
Front Row Motorsports (2) – Michael McDowell, John Hunter Nemechek *RFR Alliance
Go Fas Racing (1) – Corey LaJoie *SHR Alliance
Wood Brothers (1) – Matt DiBenedetto *Penske Alliance
MBM Motorsports (1) – Timmy Hill (part time)
Joe Gibbs Racing (4) – Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones
Leavine Family Racing (1) – Christopher Bell R
Gaunt Brothers Racing (1) – Daniel Suarez