Smithley has 17 Cup starts since 2018 and 132 Xfinity Series starts since 2015. He spent the last four years as a full-time driver for JD Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.
“The time is now to increase my Cup Series schedule,” Smithley said in a press release. “It’s important to get as much seat time in the Cup Series as NASCAR transitions to the next generation car. Also, the Cup Series offers my marketing partners additional exposure.”
Victory Lane Quick Oil Change and Trophy Tractor will be Smithley’s sponsors.
43 cars entered for Daytona 500
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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.
Well, at least for one race. The two-time Cup Series winner who retired from full-time Cup competition at the end of 2019 announced Friday he will contend in the Daytona 500 next month. He will drive the No. 36 Ford for Rick Ware Racing.
Ragan will be sponsored by Select Blinds and Speedy Cash. Select Blinds sponsored him in a few races last year at Front Row Motorsports.
The No. 36 was fielded by Front Row Motorsports in 2019, but the team scaled down to two cars for 2020 after the departure of Matt Tifft and his sponsorship. Front Row Motorsports confirmed to NBC Sports that Ragan’s car will be prepped by the team and the No. 36 will have a Rick Ware Racing charter, guaranteeing it entry in the 500.
Both of Ragan’s Cup Series wins came on superspeedways. He won the July race at Daytona in 2011. That was followed in 2013 when he earned Front Row Motorsports’ first Cup win at Talladega.
The seven-time champion will have one last go at earning a record eighth title before retiring from full-time Cup racing. He’ll also try to end a 95-race losing streak that dates to June 2017. A win by Johnson would give him 84 and move him into a tie with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth all-time.
The defending Cup champion is within milestones in all three of NASCAR’s national series. He’s four Cup wins away from 60, four Xfinity Series wins from 100 and four Truck Series wins away from 60. Busch has said once he reaches 100 Xfinity Series wins he’d stop competing in the series unless car owner Joe Gibbs needed him to fill in.
With 56 career victories, Busch is seventh on the all-time wins list. Dale Earnhardt is sixth with 76 victories.
A win by Busch this year would give him wins in 16 straight seasons. That would match Jimmie Johnson’s streak from 2002-17. Richard Petty had 18 straight seasons with a win (1960-77) and David Pearson had 17 straight seasons with a win (1964-80).
The 2014 Cup champion needs one win to reach 50 for his career. He’s currently tied for 11th on the all-time wins list with his team owner, Tony Stewart. Harvick has 1,151 starts across NASCAR’s three nationals series. Thirty four starts this year will match him with Richard Petty for second all-time. Joe Nemechek has the most all-time with 1,188.
After earning six wins in 2019, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver needs three more to reach 40 Cup wins. He’s currently tied with Hall of Hamer Bobby Isaac. Should Hamlin win the Daytona 500, he’d be the first driver to win the race in back-to-back seasons since Sterling Marlin (1994-95).
The 2017 Cup champion could reach 30 career wins this season. He has 26. Of note, every eligible retired driver who has 30 or more Cup wins is a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Five active drivers have 30 or more wins: Brad Keselowski (30 wins), Kurt Busch (31), Hamlin (37), Harvick (49) and Kyle Buch (56).
In his second season with Roush Fenway Racing, Newman is within two victories of 20 career wins. He’s been stuck there since 2017 when he won the spring race at Phoenix Raceway. A win would give Newman a victory with all four organizations he’s competed for in Cup (Team Penske, Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing are the others). Roush is winless in the last 91 races.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver should reach 700 Cup Series starts this season. He’s 16 starts away from the mark and is scheduled to reach it June 14 at Sonoma Raceway. Among active full-time Cup drivers, Busch’s 684 starts are the most.
The Team Penske drivers should both reach 400 career starts this season. Logano will reach the mark in the Daytona 500, while Keselowski needs 23 starts. He’s scheduled to make start No. 400 on Aug. 9 at his home track of Michigan International Speedway (Keselowski has yet to win there).
McDowell and Almirola are each set to reach 350 Cup Series starts this season. McDowell is scheduled to reach that mark Sept. 19 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Almirola would reach it Oct. 25 at Texas Motor Speedway. With 321 starts, McDowell trails Landon Cassill (324 starts) for most starts among active full-time drivers without a win. StarCom Racing has not announced its plans for Cassill in 2020.
The veteran driver is set to compete full-time for Rick Ware Racing this season. It would be his first full-time Cup season since 2007 when he drove for Joe Gibbs Racing. Yeley is nine starts away from his 300th Cup start. He is scheduled to reach the mark April 19 at Richmond Raceway.