Stewart-Haas Racing has two cars left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but the relationship between Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch appears to be rocky after contact during the cool down lap caused an incident between the drivers on pit road following Sunday’s race at Talladega.
The Round of 12 begins this weekend for the Cup Series and NASCAR’s entry lists for Las Vegas Motor Speedway are out.
All three national series will compete at the 1.5-mile track as the Xfinity Series begins its playoffs and the Truck Series holds its second playoff race.
Here are the preliminary entry lists for Las Vegas:
Cup – South Point 400 (7 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)
Thirty-nine cars are entered for the first race of the Round of 12.
Xfinity – Alsco 300 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)
Thirty-four cars are entered in the Xfinity playoff opener.
Daniel Hemric is entered in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.
Austin Hill is entered in Hattori Racing Enterprises’ No. 61 Toyota.
Trucks – World of Westgate 200 (9 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)
Thirty-six trucks are entered.
Ryan Truex is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 40 Chevrolet.
IndyCar driver Conor Daly will make his Truck Series debut in Niece Motorsports’ No. 42 Chevrolet.
Travis Pastrana is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 45 Chevrolet for his second start of the season.
Another puzzle of Silly Season has been set with Ross Chastain headed to Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 Cup car for next season.
Chastain has been a development driver for the team since 2018. He drove three Xfinity races for Ganassi in 2018, winning once. Chastain was to drive a full Xfinity season in 2019 for the team until D.C. Solar’s sponsorship ended after its offices were raided by the FBI. The company later declared bankruptcy.
ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021
No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.
No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.
No. 8: Tyler Reddick said Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.
No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.
No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.
No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.
No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.
Available/possibly available rides
No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing. The team is considering putting itself up for sell.
No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.
No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto said Sept. 17 that the team has an option to pick up his contract for next year and the deadline is the end of September.
No. 32: Ride is open with Corey LaJoie announcing he will not return to Go Fas Racing in 2021.
No. 43: Bubba Wallace will not return to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021, the team confirmed on Sept. 10.
No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.
No. 95: Spire Motorsports purchased the charter and assets of Leavine Family Racing and will be a two-car operation in 2021.
No. 96: Daniel Suarez and Gaunt Brothers Racing announced Sept. 15 that they would part ways after this season.
Ross Chastain will return to Chip Ganassi Racing next season and drive the No. 42 Cup car, the team announced Monday morning.
The news was first reported by motorsport.com.
“I can’t thank Chip enough for this opportunity,” Chastain said in a statement from the team. “The faith he and the organization showed me back in 2018 was a real turning point in my career, and I am extremely happy for the chance to join the team again. Racing in the Cup Series with a serious contender has always been my goal, and I’m looking forward to joining what is a very strong team.
“I know I have my work cut out for me, but I’m ready to get to work and help bring more success to the organization.”
Chastain has been a development driver for the tea since 2018. He drove three Xfinity races for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Xfinity team in 2018, winning at Las Vegas. He was to drive a full Xfinity season for the team in 2019 before sponsorship went away after DC Solar’s offices were raided by the FBI and the company later declared bankruptcy.
“In three races with our organization in 2018 and watching ever since, he showed me and everyone else that he is a tenacious driver who wants to win,” car owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “We believe that Ross will give our team the opportunity to be competitive each week and our sponsors someone to build a program around. Additionally, his racing background has him well-suited to make the move to the Cup Series.”
The 27-year-old Chastain has been among the sport’s busiest drivers the past three years in NASCAR.
He drove in 77 of 92 Cup, Xfinity and Truck races last year. He’s competed in 194 of 256 Cup, Xfinity and Truck races (75.8%) run since 2018.
Chastain’s Cup rides primarily have been with underfunded teams. He drove three races this season for Roush Fenway Racing. Chastain filled in for Ryan Newman as Newman recovered from the head injury he suffered in the Daytona 500.
Fans, you've been waiting… It's time to 𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙖𝙡 who will pilot the No. 42 car in 2021 👇🏼
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) September 21, 2020
After entering Saturday’s Cup race at Bristol in the final transfer spot to the Round of 12, Clint Bowyer can rest easy for now.
Now, Bowyer says it’s time for his No. 14 team to “live up to our capabilities.”
“I just feel comfortable, we’re getting back to our consistency,” Bowyer said Saturday night. “I guess for a long time in my career I was kind of Steady Eddie, and that’s what it takes in these playoffs, to go the rounds, you can’t make mistakes. I said that going into these playoffs. For our team, we’ve got to live up to our capabilities, and if we can do that and race to our capabilities and not make the mistakes we were making through the summer months, we can contend and move forward rounds in this playoff system, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Bowyer, who was the last driver to finish on the lead lap at Bristol, goes to Las Vegas with three consecutive top 10s to start the playoffs.
Before the playoffs opened, he had gone 11 races with just two top 10s.
“Looking forward to getting out to Sin City and having some fun out there,” Bowyer said. “Hopefully we can double down, get some stage points and continue to march forward up through this playoff system and the points. We’re definitely starting behind again, there’s no question about that.”
“We’ve got to get out there and swing for the fence,” Bowyer said. “These are the playoffs; you don’t base hit it. Steady Eddie got us through this round, but from here on you’ve got to get up to the plate and swing for the fence every time, and every decision, and that’s in the car and out of the car, we’ve got to lay it on the line and go for it, and that’s why these playoffs are fun.
Bowyer has just one top-five finish in 17 Las Vegas starts (2009) and the most recent of his four top 10s there came in 2017.
Then comes the “crapshoot” know as Talladega and the “fun” Charlotte Roval.
“I like it. I’m ready,” Bowyer said. “Things can happen. At the end of the day I’ve had a different approach to the whole thing this year. This whole damned year has been chaotic and everything else, and you’ve just got to go out there and do the best you can do and not worry about or panic about anything else. That’s all you can do anyway.”