The 2021 NASCAR season is less than a week away. The drivers and their crews are ready to go racing again after the offseason. Some drivers and crews are new this year. Let’s go through the field and see who is new in the NASCAR Cup Series.
NASCAR Cup Series Free Agent Moves for 2021
Christopher Bell | #20 for Joe Gibbs Racing | (Previous Team: Leavine-Family Racing
Not really a big move here, but a move nonetheless. Christopher Bell moves from the satellite team of Leavine-Family Racing (a team that is now extinct) to the main team of Joe Gibbs Racing. Bell has been called the future of JGR since he first joined them on the Xfinity Series. Now he replaces Erik Jones and hopes to do better than his predecessor.
Erik Jones | #43 for Richard Petty Motorsports | Previous Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
The driver who was replaced at JGR by the aforementioned Christopher Bell found a home with the king, Richard Petty. Erik Jones is looking to rebound after a disappointing 2020. Jones has underperformed in his time in the Cup Series and has to do something this season if he wants to stay at NASCAR’s highest level. Two wins in his four seasons when he was supposed to be a superstar is not cutting it.
Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr. | #23 for 23XI RACING | Previous Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
Micheal Jordan and Denny Hamlin have joined forces to run a NASCAR Cup Series team. They chose Bubba Wallace to drive for them. Not really a surprising choice, but Wallace was not that impressive in his three seasons in the 43 car. Like the 99, we don’t know what kind of equipment they have so we will wait and see come the Daytona 500. The expectations have been set on Bubba to win races now.
Kyle Larson | #5 for Hendrick Motorsports | Previous Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Last year Kyle Larson was racing in his seventh season when the COVID break happened. He decided to race in Landon Cassill’s Iracing event that was held on Easter last year. Well, let’s just say a certain word was said that will tend to get people fired. Within 48 hours he was ousted and forced to go through sensitivity training. He sat back and watched the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series season from his couch. This season, Larson joins forces with Hendrick Motorsports to replace Jimmie Johnson (although he will get the former 88-team and Alex Bowman will take the 48). Like Bubba Wallace, he is expected to come back and win races.
Ross Chastain | #42 for Chip Ganassi Racing | Previous Team: Xfinity Series
The Watermelon guy finally gets his chance at running full time in the Cup Series. Ross Chastain has been running partial schedules in the Cup Series since 2016 and filled in when Ryan Newman was out last season. This time, he is the one earning points to get into the playoffs. Chastain has a good car under him and his aggression as a driver will either be a blessing or a curse.
Daniel Suarez | #99 for Trackhouse Racing | Previous Team: Gaunt Bros. Racing
Daniel Suarez moves to his third different team in the past three seasons with upstart Trackhouse Racing. Last year, Suarez drove for an underfunded team and had trouble all season driving for them. This year, we have no idea what Trackhouse is going to bring to the track so no one can really gauge how well they will do.
Corey LaJoie | #7 for Spire Motorsports | Previous Team: Go Fas
With Go Fas Racing shutting down their full-season operation Corey LaJoie decided to pursue other options. He landed on coming to Spire Motorsports on a multi-year deal. The expectations are low with this team as they don’t usually have the power to run with the big boys, but Lajoie will still get everything he can out of the car.
NASCAR Cup Series Rookies for 2021
Chase Briscoe | #14 for Stewart-Haas Racing
Chase Briscoe is taking over the reigns of the 14 car. Clint Bowyer retired after last season and Gene Haas decided to bring Briscoe up from the Xfinity Series. Briscoe had nine wins in the Xfinity Series and finished fourth in the standings last year so he looks ready to be in Cup.
Anthony Alfredo | #38 for Front Row Motorsports
Another rookie fighting for Rookie of the Year honors is Anthony Alfredo. After running a part-time schedule last year in the Xfinity Series, Front Row decided to let “Fast Pasta” take over in the #38 for the 2021 season. He is taking over for John Hunter Nemechek who does not currently have a Cup Car. We will see how the driver change goes for FRR in the near future.