NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway
Sunday, February 14 2:30 p.m. ET TV: FOX, 2 p.m. ET Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance: 500 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 65), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 130), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
2020 Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
NASCAR Xfinity Series Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 at Daytona International Speedway. Saturday, February 13 5 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 4 p.m. ET Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance: 300 miles (120 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 120) 2020 Race Winner: Noah Gragson
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Friday, February 12 7:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 6;30 p.m. ET Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance: 250 miles (100 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 100) 2020 Race Winner: Grant Enfinger
NASCAR Cup Series
Get ready, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is full of a bunch of ‘New’
With great anticipation we have all waited for the off season to come to a close and the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season to begin. And now that 2021 has arrived, it brings tons of new elements to the sport that has fans and media alike ready for the green flag to drop. Between the new schedule, new records to conquer and the several new teams, drivers and crew chiefs there is lots to look forward to this season.
The new 2021 schedule is vastly different than anything the NASCAR Cup Series has been challenged by in decades. The series will visit new tracks this season – Bristol (Dirt), Circuit of The Americas (COTA) and Nashville Superspeedway. As well as return to a vintage favorite in Road America. In total the series will visit 36 races this season – 26 events will be held to decide who will win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship and who will earn a spot in the 10-race Playoffs culminating at Phoenix Raceway in the Championship Season Finale.
New Chance at Big Records
Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott, the series’ most popular driver, collected his first NASCAR Cup Series title last season and a record 13th for Hendrick Motorsports (1995, ’96, ’97, ’98, 2001, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’13, ’16, ’20). Hendrick Motorsports also has the opportunity to surpass the historic Petty Enterprises for the series record in all-time wins this season. Petty Enterprises currently leads the series in wins with 268. Hendrick Motorsports has the second-most with 263.
“The Petty organization will always be kind of the backbone of the sport,” Rick Hendrick said. “Richard (Petty) will always be the King. We may end up with more wins than they did, but what they’ve done for the sport—you know, Richard has been with Presidents. He is the kind of person that when you mention his name, it helps our whole sport.
“So I’m a little humble to think that ‘Hey, I’m going to maybe one day pass his record of wins. I would love to, but I don’t know if I’ll ever contribute as much to the sport as Richard Petty and the Petty organization have.”
Legendary teams like Petty Enterprises paved the way for all the teams competing in the NASCAR Cup Series today; including the new comers we will see this season – 23XI Racing, Trackhouse Racing and Live Fast Motorsports. All three new teams have announced they acquired Charters and will compete for the title this season. Even more interesting is, much like Petty Enterprises with NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty being part of the ownership of the organization, all three of the new teams have a driver or former driver as part of their ownership.
23XI Racing is a newly formed team by NBA legend Michael Jordan and current Cup Series driver and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. Jordan and Hamlin have tapped Bubba Wallace to pilot the No. 23 Toyota with crew chief Mike Wheeler this season and will make their official debut in the Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Trackhouse Racing is another newly formed team that will make their debut in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2021. The team was formed by former driver Justin Marks and international entertainment superstar Pitbull and the organization has signed NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez to drive the No. 99 Chevrolet. Suarez will work with crew chief Travis Mack in 2021.
Live Fast Motorsports is the third of three newly formed teams this season, with drivers BJ McLeod and Matt Tifft forming the team in the off season. McLeod will not only help lead the organization but also drive the flagship No. 78 Ford for the team as well. McLeod will be paired with crew chief Frank Kerr in 2021.
New Faces In New Places
Not only are there new teams to watch for in the NASCAR Cup Series but also several drivers and crew chiefs have moved to new spots as well.
Like the aforementioned teams with their new drivers, here are some other drivers in new spots to keep an eye out for in 2021. Erik Jones moved from Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 to the recently relinquished No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet. With Leavine Family Racing closing shop at the end of last season, Christopher Bell made the jump back to Joe Gibbs Racing and will now drive the No. 20 Toyota. Chip Ganassi Racing tapped Ross Chastain to pilot their No. 42 Chevrolet this season. Kyle Larson returns and will now get behind the wheel of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Alex Bowman and crew chief Greg Ives will now lead the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. Two rookies to watch this season will be Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe in the No. 14 Ford that was recently vacated by a retiring Clint Bowyer and Front Row Motorsport’s Anthony Alfredo in the No. 38 Ford. Plus, Corey LaJoie moved to the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet crew chief Ryan Sparks.
Also, several new crew chiefs will be seen in the garage this season, including Rudy Fugle who replaced Chad Knaus after the seven-time champ stepped away from his crew chiefing duties at the end of last season. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Adam Stevens has been moved over to the No. 20 with Christopher Bell as Ben Beshore will take his place atop the pit box for the No. 18 team with Kyle Busch. And last but not least, Cliff Daniels, Jimmie Johnson’s former crew chief has been named to lead the No. 5 team with Kyle Larson.
No bigger spectacle than the Great American Race
From Presidents to entertainment superstars there is just something about the pageantry and enormity of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that has folks from all walks of life showing up and tuning into the Great American Race.
This season’s Daytona 500 festivities kick off with multi-platinum, ACM, CMA, CMT and Billboard Music Award-winning artist Luke Combs performing the Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show prior to the 63rd running of The Great American Race on Sunday, Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Combs, an Asheville, North Carolina native, is a longtime NASCAR fan and is looking forward to performing at the World Center of Racing to help ignite the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
“I grew up watching the NASCAR race every Sunday with my granddad; that was our thing.” said Combs. “I never could have imagined back then that I’d be playing the Daytona 500 one day, so this is super awesome and is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Combs will take to the stage prior to the start of Daytona 500 in front of a limited number of fans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while millions will watch from home on FOX.
“The tradition of the Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show has been an incredibly popular hit with race fans,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “Luke has been one of the most influential country music stars over the last few years and his fan appeal is incredible. It’s a bonus, too, that he loves our sport. He will help get another thrilling Daytona 500, as well as a new NASCAR season, off to an exciting start.”
Combs’ new deluxe album, What You See Ain’t Always What You Get, is out now on River House Artists/Columbia Nashville and debuted at #1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart as well as Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. It also set the new weekly streaming record for a country album with 102.26 million on-demand streams, breaking Combs’ own record, which he set last November (2019) with the release of his platinum-certified, global #1 album, What You See Is What You Get.
The on-track action starts with the Busch Clash at DAYTONA Road Course (Tuesday, Feb. 9), then Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is next (Wednesday, Feb. 10), followed by the Bluegreen Vacations Duels (Thursday, Feb. 11) and it all culminates on Sunday, Feb 14. in the Daytona 500. Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982 and this season’s event will be the 63rd running of the Daytona 500, the Great American Race.
Locked In: Qualifying up front has its perks
Start your engines and make sure you don’t miss Daytona 500 Qualifying on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1.
This week, six former Daytona 500 pole winners are entered in the event – Chase Elliott (2016, 2017), Alex Bowman (2018), Austin Dillon (2014), Martin Truex Jr. (2009), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2020), William Byron (2019) – and will once again try to lock themselves in on the front row.
Bill Elliott, Cale Yarborough and Buddy Baker lead the NASCAR Cup Series in Daytona 500 poles with four each. Last season’s series champion, Chase Elliott, leads all active drivers in the series in Daytona 500 poles with two (2016, 2017). He is also one of just five drivers to win consecutive Daytona 500 poles all-time – Fireball Roberts (1961-1963), Buddy Baker (1979-1980), Bill Elliott (1985, 1986, 1987), Ken Schrader (1988, 1989, 1990) and Chase Elliott (2016, 2017). JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won last season’s Daytona 500 pole and has an opportunity to join the list of consecutive Daytona 500 pole winners this week.
The fastest two drivers in Qualifying are locked into the Daytona 500. The rest of the field will decide their starting spots by battling it out in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels – two 60 lap (150 mile) qualifying races. While some competitors will argue their starting spot is of no consequence in the Daytona 500, the pole position is the most proficient starting position in the
Daytona 500 field, producing more winners (nine) than any other position. The Daytona 500 pole starting position has a winning percentage of 14.5%. The most recent driver to win the Daytona 500 from the pole is NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett in 2000. NASCAR Hall of Famers Bill Elliott (1985, 1987) and Cale Yarborough (1968, 1984) are the only two drivers to accomplish the feat of winning the Daytona 500 from the pole more than once. But starting in the back doesn’t totally discount a driver’s chances at winning, 18 of the 62 Daytona 500s have been won from starting spot outside the top 10. Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a Daytona 500 race winner has started.
Daytona 500 Winners From The Pole
How it the Daytona 500 starting lineups will be decided:
Thirty-six Charter teams will be assigned a starting position
Four Open teams are eligible for starting positions
Qualifying sets the front row for the Daytona 500 and the starting lineup for the Duel fields, with the number of Charter team and Open team cars split evenly throughout both races
The finishing positions of the Charter teams in the Duels will decide their starting position in the Daytona 500 (Positions 3rd – 36th)
The highest finishing Open team in each Duel race earns a starting position
The final two starting positions are awarded to Open teams based on Pole Qualifying if not already a top finisher in a Duel race
If one of the vehicles on the front row is a Charter team and one is an Open team, then the highest finishing Open team in each Duel race earns a starting position and only one starting position will be awarded to an Open team based on Pole Qualifying
If both of the vehicles on the front row are Open Vehicles, then only two more starting positions will be available for the Open teams and they will be awarded to the highest finishing Open teams in each Duel race
If the second Duel race is cancelled due to weather, the highest finishing Open team from the first race earns a starting position, with the other three Open teams determined by qualifying
If both Duel races are cancelled due to weather, qualifying determines all four Open teams
Dueling for a good spot
On Thursday, Feb. 11 NASCAR Cup Series drivers that do not qualify on the front row (first & second) of the Daytona 500 will have the opportunity to compete for their starting position in the Great American Race in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels (7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) – two 60 lap (150-mile) qualifying races. The qualifiers will be divided up evenly into each Duel event depending on their qualifying position.
Of the 40-car field, the 36 Charter cars are already guaranteed a spot in the Daytona 500, but the four open cars will have a shot at racing their way into the Daytona 500. This season 44 drivers will vie for just 40 spots. The seven drivers hoping to make the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 are Noah Gragson with Beard Motorsports, Kaz Grala with Kaulig Racing, Austin Cindric with Team Penske, David Ragan with Front Row Motorsports, Ryan Preece with JTG Daugherty Racing, Chad Finchum with MBM Motorsports, Timmy Hill with MBM Motorsports and Ty Dillon with Gaunt Brothers Racing. Only four of these seven drivers will compete in the Daytona 500.
A total of 43 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duels, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt with 12 Duel victories – seven more than the next competitor. Seven active drivers have won at least one of the Duel event, led by Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Denny Hamlin (2008, 2014, 2017) and Kyle Busch (2009, 2013, 2016) with three victories each. The other six active Duel winners are Chase Elliott (2017, 2018), Joey Logano (2019, 2020), Kevin Harvick (2013, 2019), Kurt Busch (2011), Ryan Blaney (2018) and William Byron (2020).
From 1972 to 2004 the Duels were scheduled for 50 laps each and during that time frame eight of the Duel events had a driver lead 100% of the laps from flag-to-flag – NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip was the first to accomplish the feat in 1988; he was later joined by Dale Earnhardt (1991,1998), Davey Allison (1991), Ernie Irvan (1996), Bill Elliott (2000), Ricky Rudd (2000) and Jeff Gordon (2002). The race was moved to 60 laps in 2005 and ever since the most a driver has led in a Duel event is 73.3% (44 laps of the scheduled 60) by Kevin Harvick in 2019.
The prestige of winning the Daytona 500
Known has the biggest race in NASCAR, the Daytona 500 holds a special place in every stockcar driver’s heart. It’s an instant catapult to fame for the victor. It’s the pinnacle of a racer’s career, the crowning achievement that all other drivers aspire to possess, and fans and media admire. The NASCAR Cup Series season-opener is unlike any other event and holds the prestige among its competitors due to its ever-changing difficulty to master, much less finish. And this year’s Great American Race will undoubtedly bring all the action and excitement we have all grown to love and anticipate.
In total, only 39 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won a Daytona 500, and seven of the 39 are active this weekend – Denny Hamlin (3 Daytona 500 wins), Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Derrike Cope (each have one).
NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in Daytona 500 victories with seven trophies – (1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1981). Richard’s father, Lee Petty, won the inaugural Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, 1959; he led 38 laps and won by two feet in an Oldsmobile. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin has won the last two consecutive (2019, 2020) Daytona 500s and he leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 wins with three trophies (2016, 2019, 2020). Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500 (1959), and Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 champion, are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 in their first appearance.
Denny Hamlin could become first to win three consecutive Daytona 500s
A NASCAR Cup Series driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s four times – Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84), Sterling Marlin (1994-95) and Denny Hamlin (2019-20). This season Hamlin has the opportunity to become the first to win three consecutive Daytona 500s.
Of the 62 Daytona 500 races, only seven times has a driver posted his career-first NASCAR Cup Series victory with a win in the event; the most recent to accomplish the feat was Trevor Bayne in 2011.
Chase Elliott’s title defense begins in Daytona
The climb to the top of the mountain can be tough but staying on top can be tougher and 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott’s title defense starts this weekend in the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Bowyer joins FOX Sports Booth for NASCAR
Clint Bowyer announced on social media back in October that he will leave Stewart-Haas Racing after the 2020 season to join the FOX Sports booth for its NASCAR broadcasts.
“Just like my driving career, I will be part of a great team and organization with great teammates,” Bowyer wrote in a letter he posted on social media. “To say I’m excited would be an understatement.”
Bowyer participated FOX Sports’ racing coverage during the 2020 season. Bowyer’s energy and enthusiasm was evident when he was on the broadcasts.
The 41-year-old Bowyer was the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series runner-up in the championship points and the 2008 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion. He won 10 NASCAR Cup Series, eight Xfinity Series and three Camping World Truck Series races in his career.
Kyle Busch steals Busch Clash win in wild finish
Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch may carry the nickname “Rowdy” but it was a couple of his competitors acting that way that allowed him to move into the lead out of the final turn and earn his second career Busch Clash victory Tuesday night. Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota led only the length of a football field en route to the checkered flag – the only time he was out front all night at the exciting 14-turn Daytona International Speedway Road Course. But it was enough – earning the former champion his first victory with new crew chief, Ben Beshore, in the annual non-points exhibition that kicks off Daytona Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth.
This time of year I pick my Top 10 for the Daytona 500 & the NASCAR Cup Series Championship:
2021 Velocity Daytona 500 Picks:
- Car 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Toyota
- Car 20 Christopher Bell DEWALT Toyota
- Car 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
- Car 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota
- Car 5 Kyle Larson Nations Guard Chevrolet
- Car 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Light #TheCrew Ford
- Car 3 Austin Dillon Welcome, NC Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
- Car 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford
- Car 1 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Chevrolet
- Car 23 Bubba Wallace DoorDash Toyota
2021 Velocity NASCAR Cup Series Championship Picks
- Car 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Light #TheCrew Ford
- Car 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota
- Car 5 Kyle Larson Nations Guard Chevrolet
- Car 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
- Car 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Toyota
- Car 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
- Car 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota
- Car 20 Christopher Bell DEWALT Toyota
- Car 23 Bubba Wallace DoorDash Toyota
- Car 2 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Ford
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 kicks off 2021 Xfinity Series at Daytona
The 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is upon us and Daytona International Speedway is all set to host this weekend’s Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Daytona International Speedway has hosted 58 NASCAR Xfinity Series races since the inaugural race in 1982 won by Dale Earnhardt.
Noah Gragson won last year’s season-opener, starting from the 12th position. Myatt Snider started on the pole in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing but finished 33rd after being involved in a crash on Lap 59. Gragson will look to go back-to-back in his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. His win last season at Daytona was the first of his Xfinity Series career. He went on to win again at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The 2020 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Harrison Burton, finished second last season at Daytona while Timmy Hill finished third in one of the biggest underdog stories of the season.
There were seven cautions for 28 laps and 12 different lead changes.
Justin Haley is the most recent winner at Daytona International Speedway in the Xfinity Series. He started ninth at the race in August and took home the victory. Haley, driver of the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet, is a force to be reckoned with at superspeedways. All three of his victories in the Xfinity Series came in 2020 at superspeedways.
Saturday evening’s race will be 120 laps for 300 miles. Stage 1 will end on Lap 30 and Stage 2 will end on Lap 60.
The Xfinity Series’ first practice will be on Friday, Feb. 12 at 4:35 p.m. ET on FS1 and qualifying will take place at 10:40 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 13.
2020 Xfinity Series champ is back for more!
Austin Cindric, the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, will be back behind the wheel of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford in 2021. Cindric will run for his second straight Xfinity Series championship.
On top of running the full Xfinity Series schedule for Team Penske, Cindric will run select races in the No. 33 Team Penske Ford, in preparation for when he takes over the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford in 2022.
Prior to his 2020 championship, Cindric’s best finish in the final series standings was sixth in 2019. Cindric became the 30th different driver to win the Xfinity Series title and made 33 starts with six wins, 19 top fives and 26 top 10s in the 2020.
Cindric also became the seventh different Xfinity Series champion from the state of North Carolina.
The championship marked Team Penske’s second Xfinity Series driver championship. Brad Keselowski won the first in 2010. It marked the team’s record tying fifth owner championship (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020) joining Richard Childress Racing (five) and Joe Gibbs Racing (five) with the series-most owner titles.
Team Penske is one of 17 different organizations to win a championship in the series and the team has led nine different drivers to Victory Lane with a total of 76 wins.
Brian Wilson will also return as the crew chief for the No. 22 Ford and Cindric. The championship in 2020 marked Wilson’s first as a crew chief. He won 18 races with four different drivers in his career – Keselowski (four), Ryan Blaney (two), Joey Logano (four) and Cindric (eight).
Most recently, Tyler Reddick won back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019 and prior to that it was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011 and 2012. Martin Truex Jr. did it in 2004 and 2005 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. did it in 1998 and 1999. Randy LaJoie accomplished the feat in 1996 and 1997 and Larry Pearson did it in 1986 and 1987. Sam Ard was the first driver in Xfinity Series history to win back-to-back championships (1983 and 1984).
If Cindric goes back-to-back, he’ll be the seventh driver in series history to do so.
Five drivers make up 2021 Xfinity Sunoco Rookie of the Year class
Last season there were five different drivers competing for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This season, there are five more: Ryan Vargas, Jordan Anderson, Sam Mayer, Josh Berry and Ty Gibbs. These names are familiar to NASCAR as all five of them have made names for themselves in others series as well as made some starts in the Xfinity Series.
Ryan Vargas: Vargas has made 12 starts in the Xfinity Series over the last two seasons. All 12 of those starts were with JD Motorsports and the first was at Iowa Speedway in 2019. Vargas had a best finish of eighth at Texas Motor Speedway in 2020 and made headlines with a sponsorship deal with Tik Tok. He’ll be back behind the wheel of the No. 6 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports and will run a full-time season for the team. This weekend at Daytona International Speedway will be his first start at the historic track. He has one superspeedway start at Talladega Superspeedway last season. He started 29th and finished 30th due to a suspension issue.
Jordan Anderson: Anderson and his team announced that they’d be making a run at the Xfinity Series championship in 2021 and he would be racing for the Rookie of the Year honors in the No. 31 Chevrolet. The new program announced that it will continue the Truck Series program as well and will be run by multiple drivers during the season. Anderson will take the wheel at the season-opener at Daytona. The new program in the Xfinity Series will run cars that were acquired from Richard Childress Racing and powered by ECR engines. Arthur Haire will serve as the crew chief. Anderson has 13 previous starts in the Xfinity Series, most recently running seven races in 2017. He has a best finish of 26th at Dover in 2017. He has seven years of experience in the Camping World Truck Series with 124 starts and a best finish of second, that came last season in the opener at Daytona.
Josh Berry: Berry will run a part-time schedule in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in 2021. Berry has experience in the Xfinity Series already, having made seven starts previously and five of them were with JR Motorsports. He scored a best finish of seventh at Richmond Raceway in 2015. Berry will work with crew chief Taylor Moyer for 12 events. Berry is a 10-year veteran of JRM’s Late Model program and made history with a record-breaking season that led to winning the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series championship last season.
Sam Mayer: Mayer will run a part-time schedule in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in 2021 alongside Berry. Mayer, an alum of JRM’s Late Model program and youngest champion in NASCAR history, will pilot the Chevrolet for the team once he turns 18 on June 26, 2021. In 2020, Mayer won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol and won a combined 11 races across all three ARCA Menards Series. He will use the second half of the 2021 season to prepare to run fulltime for a championship for the team in 2022.
Ty Gibbs: Gibbs will compete for the 2021 ARCA Menards Series championship and will also make his Xfinity Series debut in the No. 54 for Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He will make his first start at the Daytona Road Course next week and although his exact schedule is still being finalized, he will content for Rookie of the Year honors.
JR Motorsports shines at Daytona
JR Motorsports will look to expand their winning ways at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. The team will look for their fourth-straight win in the season-opening race and their sixth win in the last eight races run at the superspeedway.
2018: Tyler Reddick took the lead with what turned out to be 11 laps to go in NASCAR Overtime and then held off the field for two more overtime restarts (for five total overtime restarts in the race) to win the closest race in NASCAR history (0.0004 second).
2019: Michael Annett took the lead on the final restart with 45 laps to go and held off several hard chargers to win his first NASCAR Xfinity Series career race by 0.116 seconds over Justin Allgaier.
2020: Noah Gragson led 15 laps and beat Harrison Burton, Timmy Hill, Brandon Jones and Chase Briscoe to the finish line under caution to grab his first victory in the Xfinity Series and JR Motorsports’ third straight season-opener win.
In 2021, Annett, Gragson and Allgaier will all be back behind the wheel full-time for JR Motorsports. Josh Berry, the 2020 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champion, will pilot the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet for 12 races while Sam Mayer, the 2020 ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief Showdown champion and ARCA Menards Series East champion, will run the second half of the season in the No. 8 to prepare to run full-time for the team in 2022.
Silly Season: Who landed where in the Xfinity Series?
The NASCAR Xfinity Series offseason saw some shuffling of the drivers and teams, below is a quick update on who is where:
Myatt Snider will run for Richard Childress Racing fulltime in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Andy Street as crew chief in the No. 2 Chevrolet. Snider ran a part-time schedule for RCR and RSS Racing last season, running all 33 races in his rookie season. Snider started on the pole four times last season, including in the season-opener at Daytona. His best finish came at Pocono Raceway, where he started second and finished fourth for RCR.
Landon Cassill is back in the Xfinity Series and this time he’ll run for JD Motorsports for the full season in the No. 4. Cassill ran only four races last season in the Xfinity Series but will get to run all races with the team this season, his first fulltime season since 2014.
Sam Mayer and Josh Berry will split time behind the wheel of the JR Motorsports No. 8 Chevrolet in 2021. Berry will drive 12 races early on in the season and Mayer will take over for the second half of the season after he turns 18.
Jeb Burton landed a fulltime ride at Kaulig Racing, replacing Ross Chastain in the No. 10 Chevrolet. He will have NutrienAg Solutions as a sponsor and Bruce Schlicker will be crew chief. Burton, who has experience in all three NASCAR national series, has never landed a fulltime gig in the Xfinity Series so this season is highly anticipated.
AJ Allmendinger may not be a new name in the Xfinity Series but what is new is that he will be running a fulltime schedule for Kaulig Racing in the No. 16 Chevrolet in 2021. Allmendinger used to run select races for the team but will compete for a championship this year. Jason Trinchere will be Allmendinger’s crew chief. Allmendinger will also make starts in the Cup Series for Kaulig Racing.
Daniel Hemric found a new home at Joe Gibbs Racing, where he will run the No. 18 Toyota fulltime in 2021. Hemric was competing for JR Motorsports part-time last season but will get to compete for a championship in a Toyota with Dave Rogers as crew chief.
Ty Dillon will run some Xfinity Series races for Joe Gibbs Racing as part of the team’s “all-star car” lineup. Dillon will kick off the organization’s season with the No. 54 Toyota at Daytona and will also run at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Las Vegas and Talladega. Dillon will also take a shot at the DAYTONA 500 with 23XI Racing.
Jason White and Natalie Decker will run for RSS Racing in partnership with Reaume Brothers Racing in the No. 23 Ford. Decker is set to compete in five races for the team while White will pilot the No. 23 in the season opener at Daytona.
Jordan Anderson will compete for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title, running his first full-time season in the Xfinity Series with Artie Haire as crew chief.
Gray Gaulding will drive for Jimmy Means Racing in 2021 in the No. 52 Chevrolet. Kody Vanderwal will not return to Jimmy Means and Gaulding will take his place.
Ronnie Bassett Jr. and Dillon Bassett are looking to field the No. 77 Bassett Racing Chevrolet for the full 2021 Xfinity Series schedule. The brothers will share the driving duties and will have Nathan Kennedy as crew chief.
Jesse Little made the jump from JD Motorsports to B.J. McLeod Motorsports. He will run full-time in 2021 with Keith Wolfe as his crew chief.
Riley Herbst left Joe Gibbs Racing and found a home at Stewart-Haas Racing, jumping behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford with Monster Energy has his sponsor. Richard Boswell will remain the crew chief of the No. 98 in 2021.
Ty Gibbs will make his Xfinity Series debut at the Daytona Road Course in the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. He will be running a part-time schedule alongside JGR “all-stars” Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Ty Dillon. In hopes of winning Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, Gibbs will have Chris Gayle as crew chief.
Robby Lyons and Austin Hill will run partial schedules in the No. 61 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota with Patrick Magee as crew chief. Lyons will pilot the No. 61 in the season opener at Daytona.
Stefan Parsons, Mason Massey, Vinnie Miller, Ryan Ellis will all run part-time in the No. 99 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Ford in 2021. Ellis is currently slated for six races, Miller will return for at least three and Massey will run 12.
Jade Buford and Danny Bohn will run the No. 48 Big Machine Record Racing Chevrolet. Scott Borchetta, President and CEO of Big Machine Record Label Group, tapped Buford as the fulltime driver. However, Buford is not approved to run the season opener at Daytona so Bohn will pilot the No. 48.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Two of a kind:
Only two drivers in NASCAR Xfinity Series history won the season opener at Daytona and then went on to win the championship that same year. Randy LaJoie won the season opener in 1997 and won the championship and most recently, Tyler Reddick did it in 2018.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
2021 Camping World Truck season kicks off under the lights at Daytona
It seemed almost like yesterday, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was in Phoenix deciding the 2020 championship in a wild finish that saw GM Racing’s Sheldon Creed pass a gaggle of trucks to win the race and the title. Now just a few short months later the series heads to Daytona International Speedway for annual season-opener the NextEra Energy Resources 250 this Friday under the lights (Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
This weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona is the 22nd running of the event. A total of 290 different drivers have competed in the Camping World Truck Series at Daytona. ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton leads the series in starts at Daytona with 20.
In total 18 different drivers have won a Truck Series race at Daytona, led by Johnny Sauter with three victories (2013, 2016, 2018). Just four former series Daytona winners entered this weekend – Sauter (three wins), Timothy Peters, Austin Hill and Grant Enfinger each have one. The youngest Camping World Truck Series race winner at Daytona is Kaz Grala (02/24/2017 – 18 years, 1 months, 26 days) and the oldest is Joe Ruttman (02/16/2001 – 56 years, 3 months, 19 days).
Six different NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers scored their first career win at Daytona; the most recent was Austin Hill in 2019.
New Stops On the 2021 Camping World Truck Schedule
Lots to look forward to this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, most notably, the new stops on the 2021 schedule including trips to traditional and new tracks alike, including a new battle in the dirt at an iconic NASCAR track, and a second dirt contest at another storied – yet brand-new – venue.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ first dirt affair will take place at Bristol Motor Speedway (March 27), joining the NASCAR Cup Series for an action-packed weekend on the short track’s return to dirt.
Then, on July 9, trucks will roll into Knoxville Raceway for what will be a highly anticipated contest on one of the most storied tracks in the country. Located in Knoxville, Iowa, Knoxville Raceway hosted its first race in 1901, but is best known for a long, rich history of Sprint Car racing. When the Camping World Truck Series hits the dirt surface in the Hawkeye State, it will mark the first time a NASCAR national series has competed at Knoxville.
“The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series provides some of the most intense and entertaining competition in all of racing,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR vice president of racing development.
“The 2021 iteration of the schedule will build upon that intensity through a wide variety of long-tenured race tracks and new venues like Knoxville Raceway. The variety of disciplines will increase the demand on drivers and culminate with a truly battle-tested champion at Phoenix.”
The Camping World Truck Series will kick off 16 national series tripleheader weekends in 2021, including at Circuit of the Americas (May 22) and Nashville Superspeedway (June 18). In addition, the Camping World Truck Series will return to fan-favorite Watkins Glen International for the first time since 2000 on Aug. 7.
The series will also share the stage with the NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday, June 26 in Pocono as all three national series take part in the NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader weekend at the Tricky Triangle.
As was originally scheduled in 2020 prior to the pandemic, World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway will return to host the start of the Playoffs (August 20). Two historic short tracks will determine which drivers continue their Playoffs run, as Bristol Motor Speedway (Sept. 16) trims the field to eight and Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) decides which four drivers will race for a championship at Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 5).
Triple Truck Challenge Returns in 2021
The Triple Truck Challenge was introduced in 2019, as a three-race program that provides drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series an opportunity to win up to $500,000 in bonus money.
The Triple Truck Challenge will award a $50,000 bonus to the race winner of any one of the three events; win two of the three races and pocket an additional $150,000; win all three and collect a cool half a million dollars.
This season the Triple Truck Challenge will be held at the following tracks:
Darlington Raceway (May 7)
Circuit of The Americas (May 22)
Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 28)
Can He Take It Higher? Creed Aims At Championship Repeat
Sheldon Creed returns to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet to defend his 2020 championship.
The 23-year-old won the first five races of his career last season, including two in the final three races to capture the series title. His five victories topped the series.
Creed improved throughout his second full-time season in 2020, racking up four of his five wins in the second half of the season and leading no less than 10 laps in each of his final six races.
In two Daytona starts, Creed claims finishes of 17th (2019) and ninth (2020).
Monster Mash: Hailie Deegan Makes Ballyhooed Full-Season Trucks Debut
Hailie Deegan is set to make her much anticipated NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in Friday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).
Fresh off a third-place championship finish in the ARCA Menards Series, the 19-year-old Californian takes aim at the Truck Series. She finished 16th in her lone Truck Series start at Kansas Speedway last year – setting the record for females in the series in their debut.
Deegan boasts three career victories in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West which is now part of the ARCA Menards Series. She is the first female driver to win a race in the West Series.
The No. 1 Monster Ford driver has experience at Daytona, finishing second in the ARCA Menards Series Race at The World Center of Racing last year.
John Hunter Nemechek returns to chase championship in Truck Series
After dabbling full-time in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series, John Hunter Nemechek returns to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in search of a championship in the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra.
Nemechek is a six-time winner in Camping World Truck Series action, winning at least one race each season from 2015 to 2018 for his family-owned team, NEMCO Motorsports.
Across 102 career starts in the Camping World Truck Series, the second-generation driver has compiled two poles, 609 laps led, 28 top-five and 50 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 13.2. The North Carolina native qualified for the Camping World Truck Series Playoffs in each of his two full-time seasons, finishing eighth in the championship standings in both 2016 and 2017. He was voted the series most popular driver in 2015.
Nemechek’s career-best Daytona finish is a fourth-place showing (2017).
“There are definitely some internal goals, I don’t want to publicize those goals,” Nemechek said. “The goal is to obviously win races and be a contender for the championship come Phoenix for our finale. Hopefully, we can accomplish all that, get as many wins as possible, and be a contender each week.”
ThorSport Racing’s Grant Enfinger goes for Daytona repeat
Grant Enfinger will attempt to grab a second straight victory at Daytona International Speedway in Friday’s NextEra Energy Sources 250 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1). The No. 98 ThorSport Ford driver led a race-high 41 laps last year on his way to the checkered flag. In six career starts at Daytona, Enfinger claims one win, two top fives and three top 10s. He has an average Daytona finish of 9.5.
Enfinger will attempt to build off a career-best 2020 season in which he scored four victories and placed fourth in the championship standings. The Fairhope, Alabama, native, embarks on his fifth full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season in 2021.
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR