NASCAR | Driver Changes

Silly Season 2020 started early and ended late. Long after the final lap was run at the championship race in Phoenix, more driver changes were being announced. With the start of the 2021 season less than 2 months away, there is still one car that does not have a driver, the #38 Front Row Motorsports car that was piloted by John Hunter Nemechek for the 2020 season. Nemechek informed Front Row that he would not be returning to the #38 car for the 2021 season. Instead, he will be driving the #4 Toyota Tundra for KBM in the Gander Truck Series. So what other changes have happened throughout the season?

Let’s start with the Hendrick Camp. Jimmie Johnson announced his retirement from full-time racing, making the highly coveted #48 available, but don’t get too excited. It was announced that Alex Bowman would take over that ride, leaving the #88 car open. Or is it? No, that highly coveted number is being retired. But Hendrick has always run with four cars and it was announced that the #5 car would return. So, who is going to drive the #5? Kyle Larson! After Kyle was suspended indefinitely from NASCAR and fired from Chevy, he has completed his diversity training and has been reinstated by NASCAR and has snagged the final Hendrick car.

Matt Kenseth was called up from retirement in 2020 to finish the year in the #42 in Larson. But Kenseth will be retiring again because Chip Ganassi has announced that Ross Chastain will drive the #42 next year. 

Speaking of retirement, Clint Bowyer has announced his retirement as he will be joining Fox in the broadcast booth next year. This gives Chase Briscoe a boost up from Xfinity to the Cup series to drive the #14 for Stuart Haas Racing. With Briscoe moving up, Riley Herbst moves from JGR to SHR to get a boost from the Gander Truck Series up to the Xfinity series to take over the #98 car.

The silly part of Silly Season involves two teams selling their charters which affects multiple drivers. Both Leavine Family Racing and Germaine Racing have sold their charters. With Leavine Family Racing selling their charter, this moves Christopher Bell to the #20 for Joe Gibbs Racing, booting Erik Jones out of that car. Germaine Racing sells their charter to 23XI Racing, owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, leaving Ty Dillon without a ride. Now here is where it gets interesting. 23XI announced Bubba Wallace as their driver in the #23 car after he announced that he will not return to Richard Petty Racing in the #43 car. Jones moves to the #43 car and everything comes full circle, except that Ty Dillon still does not have a ride. 

Corey LaJoie announced he would be leaving Go Fas Racing to drive the #7 Chevy for Spire  Motorsports, Matt Tifft then bought the Go Fas charter, changed the name to Live Fast, and named co-owner, BJ McLeod, as the driver. They will have a technical alliance with SHR. Daniel Suarez announced that he was leaving Gaunt Brothers for the #99 Trackhouse Racing car. Gaunt Brothers now without driver or a charter so their 2021 season is yet to be determined as is Front Row’s since they have not announced a replacement for the #38 car yet. Hailie Deegan who won the 2020 ARCA Menards Series Bounty Rookie of the Year will be moving up to the Gander Truck series full-time continuing to drive for DGR-Crosley.

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