Answers about new NASCAR rule limiting Cup drivers in other series

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NASCAR announced Wednesday that it will limit how many Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races Sprint Cup drivers can run beginning in 2017.

Here is a breakdown of the rule and what it means.

WHAT IS THE RULE?

NASCAR states that any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience can compete in a maximum of 10 Xfinity and seven Camping World Truck Series races in 2017.

NASCAR announced that any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience will be prohibited from competing in the final eight Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races next year. That’s the regular-season finale for both and the seven-race Chase for each series.

NASCAR also stated that any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience will not be allowed to compete in the Xfinity Dash for Cash races next year.

Drivers earning Cup points in 2017 also are not eligible to compete in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series title races in 2017 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

HOW IS FULL-TIME CUP EXPERIENCE DEFINED?

A driver who has attempted to qualify for every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in a given season is considered to be a full-time driver in that series.

Thus, former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who has made 126 career Cup starts, is not impacted by this rule because this is only his second full-time season in Cup.

Also, Landon Cassill would not face these restrictions. Cassill, who has 219 Cup starts, ran full seasons in 2014 (failed to qualify for two races), 2015 and is set run the full season this year. He ran 33 of 36 races in 2013 but was not entered in the other three events, thus did not make a qualifying attempt. He ran 32 of 36 events in 2011 but was not entered in the other four races and did not make a qualifying attempt.

WAIT A MINUTE. WHAT ABOUT A DRIVER LIKE Elliott Sadler, WHO HAS RUN MORE THAN FIVE YEARS IN CUP? DOES THIS IMPACT HIM?

No, it won’t because he will declare to run for the points in the Xfinity Series next year with JR Motorsports. The rule about more than five full-time Cup seasons impacts those drivers declaring points for the Cup Series.

HOW MANY XFINITY DASH FOR CASH RACES WILL THERE BE IN 2017?

NASCAR has yet to say. There were four such races this year — Bristol in April, Richmond in April, Dover in May and Indianapolis in July.

SO WHAT RACES WILL SPRINT CUP DRIVERS WITH MORE THAN FIVE YEARS OF FULL-TIME EXPERIENCE BE BARRED FROM IN 2017?

The final eight Xfinity races. That’s the regular-season finale and the seven Chase races.

Those races will be Chicagoland (Sept. 16), Kentucky (Sept. 23), Dover (Sept. 30), Charlotte (Oct. 6), Kansas (Oct. 21), Texas (Nov. 4), Phoenix (Nov. 11) and Homestead (Nov. 11).

In the Truck Series, those eight races will be Chicagoland (Sept. 15), New Hampshire (Sept. 23), Las Vegas (Sept. 30), Talladega (Oct. 14), Martinsville (Oct. 28), Texas (Nov. 3), Phoenix (Nov. 10) and Homestead (Nov. 17).

WHO ARE THE CUP DRIVERS COMPETING IN 2016 WHO WILL NOT HAVE MORE THAN FIVE YEARS FULL-TIME EXPERIENCE IN 2017 AND NOT FACE THESE RESTRICTIONS NEXT  YEAR (EXCEPT THE RESTRICTION OF NOT COMPETING IN THE XFINITY AND TRUCK FINALES IF THEY SCORE CUP POINTS)?

Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, Trevor Bayne, Landon Cassill, Brian Scott, Michael McDowell, Michael Annett, Matt DiBenedetto, Alex Bowman, Josh Wise, Cole Whitt, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Reed Sorenson and Ty Dillon. Erik Jones, who will be a rookie next season, will not face these restrictions in 2017.

HOW MANY XFINITY RACES HAVE BEEN WON BY CUP DRIVERS THIS YEAR?

Cup drivers have won 19 of 30 Xfinity races this year — 63.3 percent. Three races remain in the Xfinity season.

The breakdown: Kyle Busch (9 wins), Austin Dillon (2), Joey Logano (2), Chase Elliott (1), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1), Denny Hamlin (1), Kyle Larson (1), Aric Almirola (1) and Michael McDowell (1).

Based on the new rule, only Dillon, Elliott, Larson and McDowell of the group above will be eligible to compete in Xfinity next year without restrictions.

HOW MANY XFINITY RACES HAVE BEEN WON BY CUP REGULARS SINCE 2011?

Since 2011, Cup regulars have won 138 of 196 Xfinity races (70.4 percent)

— In 2016, Cup regulars won 19 of 30 Xfinity races (63.3 percent)

— In 2015, Cup regulars won 23 of 33 Xfinity races (69.7 percent)

— In 2014, Cup regulars won 22 of 33 Xfintiy races (66.7 percent)

— In 2013, Cup regulars won 28 of 33 Xfinity races (84.8 percent)

— In 2012, Cup regulars won 18 of 33 Xfinity races (54.5 percent)

— In 2011, Cup regulars won 28 of 34 Xfinity races (82.4 percent)

HOW MANY CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RACES HAVE BEEN WON BY CUP DRIVERS THIS YEAR?

Cup drivers have won three of 19 races this year. Four races remain this year.

The breakdown: Kyle Busch (2 wins) and Kyle Larson (1).

Christopher Bell: ‘Pretty scared’ about future before re-joining JGR

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Early last week, Christopher Bell was “pretty scared” about his NASCAR future after Leavine Family Racing, the Toyota-backed team the rookie driver competes for in the Cup Series, announced it would sell its assets to Spire Motorsports.

That left Bell’s relationship with Toyota, the manufacturer that’s been the “centerpiece” of his racing career since 2013 and 2015 in NASCAR, up in the air.

“I’ve said it time and time again, but Toyota has been my – they’re the ones that got me here,” Bell said Tuesday in a press conference. “They’re the ones that took me from dirt track racing to pavement racing to Truck (Series) racing to Xfinity racing and then obviously made this deal happen with LFR too. At the time, it’s either the 20 car (at Joe Gibbs Racing) or I’m done with Toyota. There’s no other options. It was very scary. I didn’t want that to end.”

Bell acknowledged that despite his 2017 Truck Series title, his seven Truck wins and 16 Xfinity wins, a lack of sponsorship backing didn’t make him the most valuable hire for another team.

“The sponsorship piece is a huge part of it,” Bell said. “It’s no secret, you have to have sponsors in order to succeed in this sport and I’ve been really fortunate to have Rheem with me for the last couple of years. If I get pushed out of the Toyota group, I don’t really have much to say, ‘hire me.’”

Bell said, “I knew that once LFR shut down, there was only one place for me to go and the 20 car has obviously got a great driver in there right now.”

That driver was Erik Jones, who has been with Joe Gibbs Racing in Cup full-time since 2018 and been a Toyota driver in NASCAR since 2013 in the Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“‘How is that going to work?'” Bell asked himself. “‘How am I going to be able to go to JGR whenever they’re full?’ Unfortunately my homecoming so to speak was at the expense of another driver.”

Two days after LFR’s announcement, Joe Gibbs Racing revealed Jones would not return to the team in 2021, a move that “blindsided” Jones.

On Monday, JGR announced Bell’s ascent up the ranks would finally land him in the No. 20 next season.

“It was very, I mean, uncomfortable is a good way to put it,” Bell said. “I don’t think any of us – myself, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota – none of us expected the whole LFR deal to go down like it did, so I think that put everybody in a little bit of a box. … I’m extremely grateful that I get to continue that relationship and that I get to continue to drive Camrys on Sundays and race with TRD for hopefully a long time to come.”

How does Bell see his relationship with Jones playing out over the final 14 races of the season?

“As far as me versus him, that situation is already done, so I don’t know how he’s going to race me going forward,” Bell said. “I’m going to be cheering for Erik, just as everybody is at Joe Gibbs Racing, just hoping that he gets a nice solid deal and lands on his feet. I’ll be cheering for him and trying to race him with as much respect as I can, just like every other competitor. I hope he performs well, and obviously, the better he performs now in the 20 car, the better off I’ll be at the start of the year with the owner points standings. It’s really important that he does well this year in the 20 car for my future next year as well.”

Bell observed that it’s “absolutely crazy” to look back at his career path, which began in UASC Midgets and has led to him driving a “house” Toyota Cup car at JGR next year.

Going into 2021, Bell said he still has a “great relationship” with the people at JGR from his time there in the Xfinity Series.

“Whenever I was on the Xfinity side, I still got to mingle and interact with the Cup shop a little bit, so I have a rough idea how everything operates there,” Bell said. “I got in a little bit deeper with the LFR deal, and having that technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, but it’s going to be very nice to be able to go back home.”

Spire Motorsports confirms purchase of Leavine Family Racing

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Spire Motorsports confirmed Tuesday that it will acquire the assets from Leavine Family Racing upon the completion of the 2020 season. Spire Motorsports also will expand to a two-car team in the Cup Series in 2021.

The purchase will include LFR’s charter, the team’s race shop near Charlotte Motor Speedway and all of its owned inventory. LFR’s fleet of cars and chassis will be returned to Joe Gibbs Racing.

Spire, which began competing in 2019 after it purchased Furniture Row Motorsports’ charter, fields the No. 77 Chevrolet. It has made 58 starts for more than a dozen drivers since last year, including an upset win in the July 2019 race at Daytona with Justin Haley behind the wheel.

The team is co-owned by Jeff Dickerson and Thaddeus “T.J.” Puchyr.

“This is an exciting moment for Spire as we take the natural next step in our long-term plan to build our race team and prepare for the Next Gen car in 2022,” said Dickerson in a press release. “Bob Leavine invested more than money into LFR and this industry. He built a team brick-by-brick and we have long admired how he took his own steps in the garage. He also did it with his family at his side. We won’t let that be lost in this transaction. When you build something with your family, it always means a little bit more. His ability to connect with fans was genuine and we are thankful he chose us to carry this team forward.

“These are no doubt trying times, but I have never been prouder to be part of this sport. NASCAR has managed several difficult situations this spring and into the summer. We believe in the ownership model that NASCAR has built and where this sport is going now more than ever.”

The team said details about drivers and manufacturers for 2021 will come later.

Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

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 in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

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. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.