Sam Mayer

Silly Season Scorecard: Post-Miami edition

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NASCAR’s championship weekend in Miami has come and gone and with it came a flurry of driver announcements from teams about the 2020 racing season.

Among them was the news that Cole Custer is being promoted by Stewart-Haas Racing to the Cup Series, where he will take over the No. 41 Ford driven by Daniel Suarez this year.

Here’s a look at all the official driver announcements made so far for next season.

OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

No. 36: Front Row Motorsports announced Nov. 13 it was parting ways with Matt Tifft so he could focus on his health following his seizure at Martinsville in March. Tifft said he could not commit to racing in 2020.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Nov. 1 a multi-year extension with Kurt Busch.

No. 6: Roush Fenway Racing announced Oct. 30 that Ryan Newman would return to the car as part of the news that Oscar Mayer would sponsor the No. 6 through 2021.

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer was announced Oct. 17 as returning to Stewart-Haas Racing for a fourth season.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing announced Nov. 15 Cole Custer will replace Daniel Suarez.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Preece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher. The team said that an announcement on car number and sponsor would come later.

Rick Ware Racing: JJ Yeley will drive one of the team’s three full-time rides.

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Daniel Suarez — The driver revealed Nov. 14  he would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020 after one season driving the No. 41.

Corey LaJoie – The driver hasn’t announced his plans for 2020, but he said in October he and Go Fas Racing were “working toward” him returning to the No. 32 Ford. The team announced on Nov. 1 it would enter a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing next year and that “2020 driver negotiations are still ongoing.”

Xfinity Series 

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, joining Justin Haley.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Announced Oct. 17 Harrison Burton will drive its No. 20 Toyota full-time in 2020. Announced Oct. 31 Brandon Jones would return for a third year in the No. 19. Revealed Nov. 5 it would field a third full-time entry with Riley Herbst in the No. 18.

JR MotorsportsJustin Allgaier will return to the team for a fifth year in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The No. 8 car will be driven by Daniel Hemric for 21 races, Jeb Burton 11 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race. Noah Gragson will also return for a second season in the No. 9 car, while Michael Annett returns for a fourth year with the team in the No. 1 car.

Richard Childress Racing — Has not announced its driver plans for 2020, but Richard Childress said after Tyler Reddick claimed the Xfinity title that it would field a full-time entry.

Stewart-Haas Racing – The team has not announced plans for the No. 00 Ford with Cole Custer moving to Cup or whether Chase Briscoe will return to the No. 98.

JD MotorsportsJesse Little will compete full-time for the team.

Truck Series

GMS RacingDriver lineup will include Brett Moffitt, Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum

Kyle Busch MotorsportsRaphael Lessard will drive the No. 4 full-time while Christian Eckes will drive the No. 18 full-time.

Hattori Racing EnterprisesAustin Hill will return to the No. 16 Toyota for a second year.

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GMS Racing to retain all 3 of its Truck drivers in 2020

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GMS Racing announced Friday that it will retain its three NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series drivers for a second consecutive season in 2020.

The Statesville, North Carolina organization revealed that 2018 Truck Series champ Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed will continue to compete full-time in the Truck Series in 2020, while 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Sam Mayer will return to the team and drive an expanded Truck schedule next season.

Moffitt is completing his first season with GMS. Coming into Saturday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 race at Martinsville Speedway, Moffitt has four wins and three poles this season, along with 12 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, and has led 369 laps. He’s the current Trucks playoff points leader, holding a 23-point lead over Stewart Friesen.

Brett Moffitt. Photo: Getty Images.

It’s been awesome to work with this organization this year and we’ve been competitive each and every week,” Moffitt said in a media release. “Having next year locked down allows us to focus completely on competing for a championship this year. Returning with the same teammates as well will be really cool. We already know how to work together and help each other while maintaining a bit of that competitive edge. I can only imagine what we will be able to accomplish in 2020 building off the momentum from this season.”

As the only full-time Trucks driver in the Drivers Edge Development program, Creed has two runner-up finishes, along with four top-fives, 10 top-10s and has led 164 laps.

I feel very confident going into next season with GMS Racing,” Creed said. “I know I have the best group of people around me and the best organization to go out next year and compete for wins and hopefully the championship. The beginning of this season was a bit of a learning curve for me, but we found our groove and I’m excited to go out and compete for wins and build momentum for next year.”

As for Mayer, who is making his second career Truck Series start this weekend at Martinsville, the Franklin, Wisconsin native will compete in six Truck races next season while also competing for the ARCA Racing Series Showdown Championship, as well as to defend his ARCA East Championship.

Mayer holds the distinction of being the youngest NASCAR champion in any national series, earning his K&N title at 16 years, three months and eight days. Mayer earned four wins, three poles, 11 top-five’s, 11 top-10’s and led 497 laps in K&N East competition in 2019. He has earned seven top-five’s and led 26 laps in eight ARCA starts this year.

I am excited to be returning to GMS Racing in 2020,” Mayer said. “We are being very aggressive with my schedule next year, and I think that will help challenge me and help me grow even more in my career. … I’ve been able to accomplish a lot this season with the support from GMS and I can’t wait for next season.”

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Final truck practice report from Martinsville

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FINAL PRACTICE:

Todd Gilliland was fastest in the final NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice Friday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway.

Driving the No. 4 Toyota Tundra, Gilliland laid down a speed of 95.694 mph in the 50-minute session.

Harrison Burton was second-fastest at 95.247 mph, followed by defending Truck Series champ Brett Moffitt (95.170 mph), Johnny Sauter (95.141 mph) and rookie Sam Mayer (95.036 mph).

Only 30 trucks took to the track for the session.

Click here for the final practice results.

FIRST PRACTICE:

Less than a week after winning the ARCA Menards Series championship, Christian Eckes hopped into a NASCAR Gander Outdoor Series truck Friday and was fastest in the first of two practice sessions at Martinsville Speedway.

Christian Eckes (Getty Images)

Piloting the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, Eckes covered the .526-mile bullring – the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit – at a speed of 95.391 mph. He was followed by Ross Chastain (94.661 mph), Sheldon Creed (94.477 mph), Ben Rhodes (94.449) and Todd Gilliland (94.402.

A total of 31 trucks took to the track for the session.

Click here for first practice results.

The second Truck practice will be held from 2:05 to 2:55 p.m. ET this afternoon. Qualifying (10:05 a.m. ET) and the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 race (1:30 p.m. ET) will be Saturday.

In a special rookie practice held before the first full-field practice, Sam Mayer was the fastest (93.604 mph) of the five rookies that took part.

Tanner Gray, who won the NHRA Pro Stock championship last year, was second-fastest (92.969 mph), followed by Codie Rohrbaugh (92.751 mph), Danny Bohn (92.466 mph) and Natalie Decker (90.833 mph).

The NASCAR Cup Series does not get on track until Saturday for two practices and qualifying. The NASCAR Xfinity Series is off this weekend.

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NASCAR entry lists for Martinsville

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Eight drivers remain in the playoffs for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

In addition to the Cup Series, the Gander Outdoors Truck Series is also in action this weekend at Martinsville, on Saturday. The Xfinity Series is off this weekend.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for both series:

Cup – First Data 500 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

There are 38 cars entered.

One car does not have a driver listed yet on the entry list: The No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet. B.J. McLeod will be in the No. 51.

Joey Logano won this race last fall. Denny Hamlin finished second and Martin Truex Jr. was third.

In this year’s spring race, Brad Keselowski won, followed by Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 (1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

There are 32 Trucks entered in the middle race of the Round of 6 of the Truck playoffs.

One Truck does not have a driver listed yet: The No. 0 Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing Chevrolet.

Tanner Gray, who won the 2018 NHRA Pro Stock championship, makes his Truck Series debut in the No. 15 DGR-Crosley Toyota.

Sam Mayer makes his second start of the season in the No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet.

Danny Bohn makes his first career Truck Series start in the No. 30 On Point Motorsports Toyota.

Carson Ware makes his first career Truck Series start in the No. 33 Reaume Brothers Racing Chevrolet.

Dawson Cram makes his first Truck Series start of the season and fourth of his career in the No. 34 Reaume Brothers Racing Toyota.

Jeb Burton makes his second Truck Series start of the season in the No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet.

Also, one week after clinching the ARCA championship, Christian Eckes will make his seventh Truck start of the season, once again piloting the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.

Johnny Sauter won this race last fall. Brett Moffitt was second and Myatt Snider was third.

Kyle Busch won this year’s spring race, followed by Ben Rhodes and Brett Moffitt.

Click here for the entry list.

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Sam Mayer on verge of historic K&N East title

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One month and some change are all that stand between Sam Mayer and making NASCAR history.

That is the age difference between Mayer, a K&N Pro Series East driver this season, and Todd Gilliland around this time in 2016 when he won the K&N Pro Series West championship.

Mayer – at 16 years, three months and eight days – will be just under two months younger than Gilliland (16 years and five months) when he rolls off the grid for Friday’s K&N East season finale at Dover International Speedway (can be viewed live at 5 p.m. ET on FansChoice.tv. It will air tape delayed at 6 p.m. ET Oct. 11 on NBCSN).

When that happens, Mayer — who was born June 26, 2003 and still doesn’t have a driver’s license – will be the youngest champion in NASCAR history.

The GMS Racing driver enters the 12th and final race with three wins. He’s finished in the top five in all but one race this year.

Those wins came in two races at Bristol and at Iowa Speedway. He has a 30-point advantage over second-place driver Chase Cabre.

“Having the opportunity to go out and potentially be the youngest driver to ever win a NASCAR championship is absolutely amazing,” Mayer said in a media release. “I can’t thank GMS Racing, Chevrolet and Drivers Edge Development enough for everything they have done this year to get me and my team where we are right now. I’m really excited to go back to Dover and have a shot to win, and to take home a championship.”

A native of the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin, Wisconsin, Mayer also has one start and one top five in the K&N West this year, a fourth-place finish at Gateway in August.

Mayer also made his Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut this season at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, where he finished 21st after being eliminated in a crash.