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.
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.
There was one big shakeup from last year’s end-of-the-year wins list, as Martin Truex Jr. leaped over Joey Logano on the list and is now seventh among active drivers.
The following list is made up of drivers who started in the season finale, including Joe Nemechek, who started in seven of the last 11 races. It also includes Paul Menard and David Ragan, who made their final full-time Cup starts in Miami:
1. Jimmie Johnson – 83 wins (Winless in last 95 starts)
2. Kyle Busch – 56 wins (Five wins in 2019. Has at least five wins in four of the last five seasons.)
3. Kevin Harvick – 49 wins (Four wins in 2019)
4. Denny Hamlin – 37 wins (Six wins in 2019, his most since 2010)
5. Kurt Busch – 31 wins (One win in 2018; Has won at least once in last six seasons)
6. Brad Keselowski – 30 wins (Three wins in 2019; Has three wins in each of the last three season.)
7. Martin Truex Jr. – 26 wins (Seven wins in 2019; At least four wins in each of last four seasons)
8. Joey Logano – 23 wins (Two wins in 2019)
9. Ryan Newman – 18 wins (Winless in last 104 starts)
10. Clint Bowyer – 10 wins (Winless in last 57 races)
12. Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson – 6 wins
13. Joe Nemechek – 4 wins (None since 2004)
14. Ryan Blaney – 3 wins (One win in each of last three seasons)
19. Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Ragan, Erik Jones – 2 wins
23. Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Paul Menard, Justin Haley – 1 win
Johnson will exit the No. 48 Chevrolet after 19 seasons at the end of next year. That sets the stage for a potentially wild Silly Season, especially with the current contracts of drivers like Erik Jones at Joe Gibbs Racing coming to end after the 2020 season.
Here’s how the current 2019-20 Silly Season has played out so far.