Subsequent 12 months’s NASCAR Cup Collection free agent class is about to be loaded. Let’s check out the drivers who don’t but have contracts to compete within the 2021 season.
Simply 4 of the 36 races on the 2020 NASCAR Cup Collection schedule had been contested when the sports activities world was delivered to a screeching halt by the coronavirus pandemic, and there at the moment are no races for the foreseeable future.
Up to now, seven races have been postponed, even after NASCAR had initially meant to get this previous weekend’s festivities underway with none followers in attendance.
Postponements and cancellations: TRACKER
As of proper now, motion is scheduled decide up once more on Sunday, Could 9 at Martinsville Speedway, though that is topic to vary.
Subsequent non-postponed or canceled race: TRACKER
Consequently, the 2020 season is successfully at a standstill, so there may be actually not a lot to debate about it; all of the drivers and groups are set, so whereas this hiatus might find yourself being fairly prolonged, it’s a lot completely different than an offseason.
So let’s take an early sit up for 2021, which is slated to have a free agent class that’s completely stacked.
Whereas it’s no secret that there are already many top-tier drivers who’re signed for past the 2020 season, this free agent class accommodates most of the sport’s prime drivers.
Wanting solely on the sport’s prime 5 groups (Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Group Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing), there are 17 drivers.
Getting into the 2020 season, solely considered one of these 17 drivers didn’t compete final 12 months; rookie Cole Custer changed Daniel Suarez behind the wheel of the #41 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing.
However of the 17 drivers who compete for considered one of these 5 groups this 12 months, solely eight entered the 2020 season beneath contract for subsequent 12 months. Just one extra has been added to this listing for the reason that season started.
With the season now in limbo, let’s check out the pending free brokers.
On the four-car Joe Gibbs Racing group, solely Erik Jones is a pending free agent after signing a one-year contract extension to proceed driving the #20 Toyota final September.
Christopher Bell, who at the moment competes for the Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated Leavine Household Racing, is seen as a doable alternative for him if he doesn’t signal a brand new contract. However Bell is technically not a pending free agent, as he’s beneath contract with Toyota for no less than the 2021 season.
Issues are removed from sure on the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing group, and that comes to utterly no one’s shock contemplating the truth that they’ve altered their driver lineup in a roundabout way, form or kind after every of the final 4 seasons.
Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer each signed one-year contract extensions final October to proceed driving the #10 Ford and the #14 Ford, respectively, and whereas rookie Cole Custer is seen as a long-term possibility behind the wheel of the #41 Ford, he’s technically not beneath contract for past 2020.
On the four-car Hendrick Motorsports group, there may be one pending free agent and one other assured open seat. Alex Bowman signed a contract extension to drive the #88 Chevrolet via the 2020 season again in August of 2018, however he has not but signed a brand new deal.
In the meantime, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is about to retire after the 2020 season, leaving the #48 Chevrolet within the fingers of one other undetermined driver.
The three-car Group Penske group are in a scenario similar to that of Joe Gibbs Racing in that they solely have one driver to fret about, however they solely not too long ago joined Joe Gibbs Racing in that respect.
They only inked Ryan Blaney to a multi-year contract extension again in early March, so their lone pending free agent is now Brad Keselowski, who final signed an extension to proceed driving the #2 Ford for the group again in July of 2017. Keselowski has by no means competed full-time for a group apart from Roger Penske’s group, and his full-time profession started again in 2010.
Broadly seen as the highest pending free agent in the marketplace, particularly after Group Penske secured Blaney’s providers for no less than one other three years, Kyle Larson is in a contract 12 months on the two-car Chip Ganassi Racing group. The #42 Chevrolet is the one automotive he has ever pushed as a full-time driver. He has competed full-time for the reason that 2014 season.
Elsewhere, there are a number of different notable drivers who’re set to be out of a contract following the 2020 season. These drivers embrace Matt DiBenedetto on the Group Penske-affiliated Wooden Brothers Racing and Corey LaJoie on the Stewart-Haas Racing-affiliated Go Fas Racing.
These two drivers are in good positions to return behind the wheel of the #21 Ford and #32 Ford, respectively, subsequent 12 months, however each have been rumored as candidates to maneuver a number of of the game’s top-tier groups.
The opposite full-time drivers who’re at the moment competing for factors however with out contracts for subsequent 12 months embrace StarCom Racing’s Quin Houff, Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, Germain Racing’s Ty Dillon, Premium Motorsports’ Brennan Poole, Entrance Row Motorsports teammates Michael McDowell and rookie John Hunter Nemechek, JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Darrell Wallace Jr. and Gaunt Brothers Racing’s Daniel Suarez.
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The place will these pending free brokers find yourself within the 2021 NASCAR Cup Collection season? What number of of them will return to the collection, and what number of of them will return to their present groups?