NASCAR’s best assembled in Charlotte this week for media day ahead of the 2020 season, as each driver paraded in front of multiple cameras to show off their new threads (firesuits), record promos for tracks and GIFs for social media accounts.
They also got to show off their new helmets for the year.
Here’s a look at the helmets Cup Series drivers will sport this season.
The biggest remaining piece to the puzzle that was the 2019-20 NASCAR silly season has been put into place with the confirmation that Daniel Suarez will compete full-time in the Cup Series with Gaunt Brothers Racing.
Suarez moves from Stewart-Haas Racing over to GBR to drive its No. 96 Toyota. This will be the first full-time Cup campaign for the team.
Here’s a recap of all the major headlines from silly season.
Here’s a breakdown of each rookie class member (in alphabetical order):
Christopher Bell 2020 team: Leavine Family Racing 2019 team: Joe Gibbs Racing (Xfinity Series) Number of Cup starts to date: 0 Career Xfinity/Trucks wins: 16/7 What’s ahead: Bell makes the long-anticipated move to the Cup Series in 2020. Because his former Xfinity Series team, Joe Gibbs Racing, had a full driver roster in the Cup Series, Bell has been farmed out to Leavine Family Racing in a partnership/technical alliance with JGR, similar to when JGR placed Erik Jones with Furniture Row Racing in 2017 (which was also the year Bell won the Truck Series championship). Bell will be sponsored by Rheem and Procore and his crew chief from the Xfinity Series, Jason Ratcliff, follows him as his Cup crew chief. Bell replaces Matt DiBenedetto, who has moved on to take the place of Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing, who has stepped away from Cup racing
Cole Custer 2020 team: Stewart-Haas Racing 2019 team: Stewart-Haas Racing (Xfinity Series) Number of Cup starts to date: 3 (all in 2018; best finish was 25th at Las Vegas) Career Xfinity/Trucks wins: 9/2 What’s ahead: Like Bell and Reddick, it’s time for Custer to make the big jump from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series. Custer will drive the No. 41 Ford, replacing Daniel Suarez, whose racing plans for 2020 are still unclear. Custer had a breakthrough season in the Xfinity Series in 2019, earning a career-best seven wins, 17 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes. He also finished second in the Xfinity Series for the second straight season. He’ll bring his Xfinity crew chief Mike Shiplett to the same role in Cup. … Is the son of SHR general manager Joe Custer.
Quin Houff 2020 team: StarCom Racing 2019 team: Split Cup season between 13 starts for Spire Motorsports and four starts for Premium Motorsports) Number of Cup starts to date: 17, all in 2019 (best finish 28th in Coca-Cola 600) Career Xfinity/Trucks wins: 0 What’s ahead: The 22-year-old Houff replaces Landon Cassill in the No. 00 Chevrolet. Houff’s contract covers both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. … Houff competed in 17 Cup races last season but remains eligible for Rookie of the Year honors in 2020. … No crew chief has been named for the team yet; Joe Williams was crew chief for Cassill last season but was released from the team after the season-ending race at Miami. … Houff’s racing resume includes not only his 17 Cup starts last year, but also 10 career Xfinity starts, one ARCA Menards West start, five ARCA Menards Series starts and 19 CARS Super Late Model Tour starts.
John Hunter Nemechek 2020 team: Front Row Motorsports 2019 team: GMS Racing (Xfinity Series) Number of Cup starts to date: 3 (all in 2019, best finish 21st in fall Texas race) Career Xfinity/Trucks wins: 1/6 What’s ahead: The son of veteran NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek moves to Front Row Motorsports to drive the No. 38 Ford Mustang in 2020 after 1 ½ seasons of racing in the Xfinity Series. He earned one career Xfinity win (2018 at Kansas), but reached victory lane six times while driving a Truck (2013-2019). … Barely missed making the Xfinity Championship 4 round at Miami; finished seventh in the season standings. … Takes over the No. 38 from David Ragan, who has retired from active full-time racing in the Cup Series. Ragan’s former crew chief, Seth Barbour, remains in that role with Nemechek
Brennan Poole 2020 team: Premium Motorsports 2019 team: On Point Motorsports (Truck Series) Number of Cup starts to date: 0 Career Xfinity/Trucks wins: 0/0 What’s ahead: Poole is slated to compete in his first full season since the 2017 Xfinity campaign. He was supposed to run a full slate in 2019 in the Truck Series, but On Point Motorsports was forced to scale back plans due to sponsorship issues. Still, he managed to score one top-five and four top-10 finishes in 13 starts for the underfunded team. … Poole has never driven in a Cup race before, but he has 83 starts in the Xfinity Series, including eight top five and 36 top-10 finishes. … Crew chief is NASCAR veteran Pat Tryson.
Tyler Reddick 2020 team: Richard Childress Racing 2019 team: Richard Childress Racing (Xfinity Series) Number of Cup starts to date: 2 (both in 2019, best finish of ninth at Kansas 1) Career Xfinity/Trucks wins: 9/3 What’s ahead: After winning consecutive Xfinity Series championships, Reddick moves up to the Cup Series in the No. 8 Chevrolet, replacing Daniel Hemric. It’s notable that Reddick won the 2018 Xfinity championship with JR Motorsports, and then won the 2019 title with RCR. … Caterpillar will once again sponsor the car. … Randall Burnett will be Reddick’s crew chief.
Here’s what the table looks like for the Cup Series heading into 2020.
New Era, New Names
After serving in the role for three years, Monster Energy is no longer the entitlement sponsor of the Cup Series. With its departure also comes the end of the Cup Series’ entitlement sponsor model that had been in place since 1971 beginning with Winston.
After five decades of being the Winston, Nextel, Sprint and finally the Monster Energy Cup Series, the premier series will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.
There’s a lot of expectations for what the Cup Series schedule will look like in 2021 after the end of NASCAR’s current five-year agreement with tracks.
But 2020 also has plenty of groundbreaking schedule developments.
– Martinsville Speedway will host its first official Cup night race on May 9. The short track also will host the final playoff elimination race for all three national series, with the Cup race held Nov. 1.
– Pocono Raceway will be the site of the Cup Series’ first ever doubleheader weekend June 27-28. Saturday’s race will be preceded by a Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series event and Sunday begins with a Xfinity Series race.
– Daytona International Speedway will host the Cup regular season finale, moving its second date from the traditional July 4 weekend to Aug. 29. The July 4 weekend race is now held by Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Cup races there July 5).
– Darlington Raceway and the Southern 500 will open the Cup playoffs on Sept. 6. It’s joined in the opening round by Richmond Raceway and in the playoffs for the first time, Bristol Motor Speedway, which will be the first elimination race.
– After being the site of the first elimination race the last two seasons, the Charlotte Roval will be the Round of 12 elimination race (Oct. 11) and be preceded by Talladega Superspeedway.
– After a nearly two-decade run, Homestead-Miami Speedway is no longer the site of the championship weekend. Its place is now held by Phoenix Raceway, with the Cup championship race scheduled for Nov. 8. Miami’s Cup race will be March 22.
– Other notable changes: The Xfinity Series will compete at Martinsville (Oct. 31) for the first time since 2004. The Truck Series returns to Richmond Raceway (April 18) for the first time since 2005.
Chevrolet Cup teams will appear in Daytona with a slightly different look to their cars.
When the full Cup Series starting grid forms for the first time at the Daytona 500, there will be a lot familiar faces sporting new numbers with new teams. That includes a rather accomplished rookie class.
– Matt DiBenedetto debuts with Wood Brothers Racing in the No. 21 Ford, moving over from Leavine Family Racing and taking over for Paul Menard, who retired from full-time racing.
– Cole Custer and crew chief Mike Shiplett were promoted by Stewart-Haas Racing to take over its No. 41 Cup car, taking the place of Daniel Suarez. Suarez has not announced his plans for this season. SHR has not announced plans for its Xfinity program in 2020.
Quin Houff has joined StarCom Racing in a two-year-deal to drive its No. 00 car full-time in 2020 and 2021, the team announced Wednesday.
Houff, 22, made 17 Cup starts last year, splitting time between Spire Motorsports and Premium Motorsports. He replaces Landon Cassill in the No. 00, but the team stated it will announce plans for Cassill at a later date.
“I’m very excited to become a part of the StarCom Racing family,” Houff said in a press release. “This is the chance of a lifetime to be able to become a full-time NASCAR Cup driver and to turn my childhood dream into a reality. I can’t thank those that were involved throughout my career enough; especially my family and sponsors! I also would like to thank StarCom Racing for this opportunity. I am looking forward to building a reputation and experience alongside this young fast-growing team at the top-level of motorsports.”
Houff’s best finish this season was 28th in the Coca-Cola 600.
“In our efforts to continue the progression of StarCom Racing, we have many plans for building the team in 2020 and being prepared for the introduction of the Next Gen car,” said Derrike Cope, the team’s manager, in a press release. “I am pleased to have young and passionate driver, Quin Houff, to continue his progression in the NASCAR Cup Series. He is a delightful, quick-witted young man that is eager to finally showcase his talents and race in his first Daytona 500!”
Cassill has made 65 starts for the team over the last two years.
“We are thankful for all that Landon Cassill has brought to StarCom Racing’s program in 2019,” the team said in a statement. “We have a commitment to Landon that we plan to honor in 2020. Details to come at a later date.”
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