We are just about a month away from the NASCAR season and I cannot FREAKING wait!
This is far less of an actual article, as much as it is just some excited rambling.
With a lot of focus on what the 2021 season will bring with the next generation car and engine, as well as a plethora of open and potentially open seats to fill, I believe 2020 is somewhat being glossed over.
It really shouldn’t be.
We have a great rookie class coming in with two time defending XFINITY Champion Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Christopher Bell. Even though he is in inferior equipment, we will also see John Hunter Nemechek make it to the top level of racing. I’ll get to my predictions when we highlight the 2020 preview in a few weeks, but it goes without saying I am bullish on all three of these drivers. I even think John Hunter should get a bit more attention, as he has been a winner in both series, and while he is not in the best equipment, I could see him outperforming in it.
There have been quite a few moves in the offseason as well. Daniel Suarez is no longer at Stewart-Haas racing, and currently does not have a ride for 2020. There is optimism that he will end up in some capacity in the 96 Gaunt Brothers car, though it’s all speculation to this point. Matt DiBenedetto gets his shot in the legendary Wood Brothers 21. He showed well in the 95 last year, mostly due to an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing that saw him get some of their older cars down the stretch and put together some memorable performances. Asshole cost me like $3,000 and the King of the Road title when he spun out on the final lap at Watkins Glen I believe. There is no love lost here.
Speaking of Joe Gibbs racing, I think there is a lot to talk about there. It’s actually quite a lot for a team that in theory does not look any different driver wise in 2020. Reigning series champion Kyle Busch, championship contenders Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. and up and comer Erik Jones round out the stable, with Christopher Bell taking the aligned Leavine Family Racing 95.
The real news here is the departure of Cole Pearn. It is absolutely, unequivocally not being talked about enough.
Many people consider Pearn to be the brightest of all of the crew chiefs in the garage. You would often times hear Kyle or Denny talk about seeing what the 19 had in their notebook that weekend. I am not trying to throw shade on any of the other crew chiefs or Truex’s new handler, but this is going to be a big loss not just for the 19, but for Joe Gibbs racing, period. I am not talking about them crashing and burning, but I would expect them to lose some win equity to the likes of Hendricks, Blaney and Stewart Haas in 2020.
So how does this all tie in to fantasy? Well, it does and it doesn’t. What I wrote right now perhaps does not have any impact that you can use today, but I think from a long term approach, there is a lot here that will be valuable.
Stay tuned over the next month as I break down all 3 series, as well as driver by driver breakdowns for the NASCAR Cup Series!