On Saturday, we dropped our first article breaking down the “back runners”. OK, I get it. Those are cars we really are not going to be that concerned about this year. Fair enough.
We are going to actually move into some of the cars that are more regular or at least more competitive. I’m taking some liberties or leaps with some of these drivers but it is what it is. These cars are more regularly going to be seeing places in our lineups, so it makes sense to get to know them a bit better.
With that said, let’s jump right into it!
Quin Houff – 00 StarCom Racing Chevy
I’m sure some people are looking at the screen right now and asking why in the world I am considering Houff a class above the guys I wrote up last week (note: he’s not above Gaughan, Chastain, Kligerman or Suarez, but those teams don’t compete full time), but I believe the 00 is the best of the worst. Houff showed promise on occasion last season, which is why he got the nod over Landon Cassill, who is still stating he is part of the team, but I am not sure how that works. I would expect for Houff to run mostly in the very late 20’s and early 30’s, but just as Cassill did, there will be normal races where he ends up in the top 25.
Ty Dillon – 13 Germain Racing Chevy
Despite some retirement rumors over the offseason, Ty will be back in the 13 for another season. This is basically the same relationship as the 95 has with Joe Gibbs Racing, except it is with Richard Childress Racing. Ty does some things well; I am adamant that he is going to win at a plate track during his career. He does seem to have struggles at the mile and a half tracks, but he usually does well at some of the bigger and smaller tracks. In my opinion, he is one of the most misused value plays, as people play him at the mile and a half intermediate tracks where he just has not shown a ton of upside. However, he has top 20 upside when he is in his comfort zone, and the reality is that at this point in his career, I do feel as if he is a pretty transparent driver to decide when to play.
Corey LaJoie – 32 Go Fas Racing Ford
What if I told you that there is no driver I am more excited for in 2020 than LaJoie? He showed flashed last year, including a huge run at Charlotte at the 600. There was a lot of talk that this car would be used for either Cole Custer or Daniel Suarez because this is a Stewart Haas affiliated team. It was LaJoie that came back for 2020. I’ve seen some rumblings that he could end up with some year old Stewart Haas cars, much like Matt DiBenedetto had later in the year last year from Joe Gibbs which really saw his performance tick up, including almost winning at Bristol. Let’s not get too excited, though; Stewart Haas was not nearly as good as Gibbs, so let’s bring our expectations in check. However, I think this car could flirt more and more with top 20s this year, and would not be shocked to see him have a season like Chris Buescher did in 2019, hitting more and more top 20s. I don’t think the ceiling is there like with Buescher, but he can still be a fantasy asset earlier in the year before everyone else, including the fantasy sites, catch on.
Bubba Wallace – 43 Richard Petty Racing Chevy
Bubba Wallace has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. I believe he does have talent. I also believe he’s in an underfunded car and that can mean a ton in NASCAR. He’ll see a new crew chief this year, but I think this is going to be a good year for this car. I don’t think he’s a playoff driver (stop laughing) or anything, but he is one of the guys who could sneak in as a result of getting a win on a restrictor plate track. He’s shown some competency there and he has a handful of other tracks he really “gets”, so much like Ty, I do feel like we will be able to call our spots when looking to play Wallace.
Ross Chastain – 77 Spire Motorsports Chevy and ???
Ross Chastain is an interesting case. So far, we know this car is going to be running the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. This car is the one that Justin Haley drove when he was awarded the summer Daytona win (he certainly did not win). It is probably a bit better than most of the other back runners, but it definitely gets a bump with Ross Chastain driving it. I don’t think they can win anything outside of a luckbox restrictor plate win, and still that’s even pretty ambitious. He is someone though that I want to pay attention to because I do believe he’ll be underpriced when he is racing and he is talented enough to be in our consideration when he does take to the track.
There will be a number of cars that will be in for select races, including Matt Kauling’s first venture into the Cup Series with defending Daytona Champion Justin Haley.
Alright folks – next time we talk we will be breaking down some of the actual teams in more depth in the next several weeks.
Not too long until we get to go racing!