While the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Cup Series won’t be announced until Thursday, NASCAR on Wednesday revealed winners of the most popular drivers voting in the Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series.
In voting by NASCAR fans, Justin Allgaier earned Most Popular Driver honors in the Xfinity Series for the first time in his career.
Meanwhile, Ross Chastain was named Most Popular Driver in the Truck Series, also for the first time in his career, earning the honor on his 27th birthday.
Driver of the popular No. 7 Chevrolet, the 33-year-old Allgaier extends JR Motorsports’ domination of the Most Popular Driver award in the Xfinity Series to a record eight consecutive years. Elliott Sadler was the top vote-getter from 2016 through 2018, preceded by Chase Elliott (2014-15), Regan Smith (2013) and Danica Patrick (2012).
Allgaier reached the Championship 4 round for the third time in the last four years, including winning at Phoenix – the 11th win of his Xfinity career – to assure his spot in the championship race at Miami. Allgaier finished fourth this past season in the Xfinity standings behind Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer.
And then there was Chastain, who has the popular nickname of the “Melon Man” due to being part of his family’s watermelon farm business in his native Florida.
Chastain entered the 2019 season not even planning to run a full season in the Truck Series. But when it became apparent that he would have the best chance at a championship in a Truck, Chastain and Niece Motorsports announced in June he would switch and declare to earn championship points – and a bid for the Most Popular Driver – in the Truck Series.
Chastain ultimately finished second to series champion Matt Crafton.
Chastain wound up competing in a total of 77 overall NASCAR races in the 2019 season: 23 in the Truck Series, 19 Xfinity races and 35 Cup events. He won three races in the Truck Series and a fourth checkered flag in the Xfinity Series.
Martins Motorsports announced Tuesday that it has renewed a partnership with Gilreath Farms Red Angus for the 2020 Xfinity Series.
Gilreath Farms and AAN Adjusters, which also is owned by Ken Gilreath, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 44 Xfinity car for 25 races this season. Gilreath Farms sponsored Martins for a race at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2018 when Martins drove for BJ McLeod Motorsports.
“Having Gilreath Farms Red Angus on the car again is special,” Martins said in a statement. “This is really where my partnership with Ken started in 2018, so to see his commitment to us this year…I mean I’ve said it before, it completely changes our entire outlook for this season. It’s really special.”
The first race for the Red Angus Chevrolet will be at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Multiple reports state that Daniel Suarez will drive the No. 96 Cup car for Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2020.
The team has not made any an announcement.
Toby Christie reported Friday at tobychristie.com that a deal was done for Suarez to drive the full Cup season for Gaunt Brothers Racing. Motorsport.com reported Monday that Suarez would join Gaunt Brothers Racing for the full season.
Suarez would replace Parker Kligerman, who confirmed to NBC Sports on Friday that he would not return to the No. 96 car this season.
This would be the fourth Cup season for Suarez. He drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017-18 before being replaced by Martin Truex Jr. Suarez moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2019 and was replaced after the season by rookie Cole Custer.
Suarez continues to seek his first Cup win. He has eight top-five and 32 top-10 finishes in 108 Cup starts. He won the 2016 Xfinity title, a year after winning rookie of the year honors in that series.
Gaunt Brothers Racing debuted in 2017, running one race with D.J. Kennington. The team ran 22 races the following year between Kligerman, D.J. Kennington, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Jesse Little. The team ran 15 races last year with Drew Herring running once along with Kligerman’s 14 starts.