Hey there race fans, I am back for another season of commentary about the NASCAR Cup series and anything else that strikes my racing fancy.
As usual, the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona kicks off the racing season for me. This should be another exciting race with the likes of current Cup driver Kyle Busch racing and former Cup drivers AJ Allmendinger and Juan Pablo Montoya racing at Daytona once again. Racers from all walks of motorsports will be featured during the race and it is always a spectacle. If you’ve never seen it before, I highly recommend it. Temperatures should be perfect for racing. And set the DVR if you need to, no shame. It is a 24-hour race.
As the Cup season approaches, there have been some significant changes. First of all, there will be more young drivers this year. The rookie classD should be good and most of the rookies from last year return for their sophomore year, some with new crew chiefs. And speaking of new crew chiefs, Martin Truex, Jr. gets a new crew chief in James Small after Cole Pearn decided enough is enough. Bubba Wallace gets reunited with his former truck crew chief, Jerry Baxter, where they won a handful of races. Danny Stockman returns to crew the 3 for Austin Dillon. The 14 of Clint Bowyer and the 10 of Aric Almirola are swapping crew chiefs. Must be something in the water because they are doing the same over at Penske. Jeremy Bullins leaves the 12 of Ryan Blaney to crew the 2 of Brad Keselowski. Crew chief Todd Gordon leaves the 22 of Logano to go to the 12 and Paul Wolfe will go crew Logano.
Got all that? OK, ‘cause here are a couple more.
Chris Buescher is getting a new crew chief from RCR, Brian Pattie is going to follow Stenhouse over at JTG, and Jason Ratcliff will be heading to team with Christopher Bell at Leavine Family Racing.
Daniel Suarez is waiting to announce a new ride with the Gaunt Brothers Racing team, moving to Cup for the first time. I really like Suarez and I hope he does well in his first year with the team. There are no fewer than 6 veteran drivers and 14 crew chiefs moving in 2020 plus 4 full-fledged rookies. That’s more than a quarter of the teams with new drivers.
And if that isn’t enough, Chevy gets a new Camaro – because the last version was so good why not make another change. In addition, short track and road course cars will have less downforce again this year. I think they are getting everyone ready for an even looser car in 2021.
So you can expect to see a lot of new faces this year and it may take a while for some of the new driver/crew chief combinations to gel on track. As it stands, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are coming back refreshed so that doesn’t bode well for anyone. Last year, for all the talk about the Young Guns, the wily veteran drives won races at nearly a 2-1 clip over the youngsters. That is more than likely to continue in 2020 as well. But with all the crew chief changes, who knows? This might be the perfect time for Someone like Chase Elliott or Kyle Larson to make that big leap and win 3, 4 or even 5 races. Denny Hamlin, while a veteran, is still missing his first championship. 2020 may be the time for some of these drivers to strike. Not that they will usurp the likes of Harvick, MTJ, Keselowski or Kyle Busch right now, but they could certainly make it more interesting.
And speaking of more interesting, Pocono will hold two shorter and back to back races this year. We’ll have to see how that plays out not only for the drivers, but for fans. In addition to that, the Brickyard will be July 4th weekend, not Daytona. Daytona moves to the end of August. So for all the reasoning behind fans not showing up to Indianapolis due to heat, the race is moved back to one of the hottest times of the year in Indiana. I guess that heat thing didn’t work out as well as expected. It will be interesting to see if fans still stay away. Indy doesn’t have lights so that race will have to be run during the heat of the day, even if it is a later start.
Strap in and make sure your buckles are tight. This should be an interesting year of racing before the new car debuts in 2021.
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