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Martin Truex Jr.
AP
Look Ahead

34 days remaining before the 2021 Daytona 500

by Anthony Ballantoni
Updated On: January 10, 2021, 12:17 am ET

Only 34 days remain before the green flag drops to start the NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500. Here is a brief look at Cup Series 7th-placed Martin Truex Jr.’s 2020 NASCAR season and snapshots on a few other drivers who finished in the Top-20 across NASCAR’s three premium series. The tentative list of 2021 Cup Driver/Team lineups attached shows only those teams who plan on entering all events. Since some have yet to announce their 2021 plans, follow NASCAR Headlines and "Player" News on this site for the latest driver/team updates.

                    NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)

2020: Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Toyota Camry) - In 36 races, the Las Vegas, Nevada native scored 1 win (Oct. 28th Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway), 14 top-fives, 20 top-tens, had a 9.9 average start, a 13.83 average finish and led 516 laps. At the end of the regular season, Busch was 9th in points which earned him a spot in the NCS Playoffs Round of 16. He advanced to the Round of 12, also into the Round of 8 but was cut before the season-ending Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway. He closed out the season 8th in the NCS standings. Busch also entered 5 XFINITY Series races scoring one victory (the Alsco 300, May 25th at Charlotte) and 5 Truck Series races winning 3 events (Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami and Fort Worth).
2021: Busch is signed with JGR through at least the 2022 season. Ben Beshore will replace Adam Stevens as crew chief for the #18 team. M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers, Pedigree and Interstate Batteries are committed as primary sponsors again this season.

2020: Martin Truex Jr. (Joe Gibbs Racing #19 Toyota Camry) - In 36 races, the Mayetta, New Jersey native scored 1 win, 14 top-fives, 23 top-tens, had a 9.6 average start, an 11.69 average finish and led 950 laps. At the end of the regular season, Truex’s June 10th victory in the Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway earned him a spot in the NCS Playoffs Round of 16. He advanced to the Round of 12, also into the Round of 8 but was cut before the season-ending Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway. He closed out the season 7th in the NCS standings.
2021: Truex is signed with JGR through at least the 2021 season. James Small will return as crew chief for the #19 team. Clayton Hughes has been replaced by Drew Herring as spotter. Hughes has been spotting for Truex since he joined Furniture Row Racing in 2014 and followed him to JGR in 2019 after Furniture Row closed shop. He contributed to Truex’s 25 wins and his 2017 Cup Series championship. Sponsorship was not announced so far.

           NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS)

2020: Harrison Burton (Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Toyota Supra) - In 33 races, the Huntersville, North Carolina native scored 4 wins (Auto Club Speedway, Homestead-Miami, Texas Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway), 15 top-fives, 22 top-tens, had a 7.8 average start, a 10.0 average finish and led 291 laps. At the end of the regular season, his wins (he only needed one) earned him a spot in the NXS Playoffs Round of 12. He made it through the Round of 12, advanced to the Round of 8 but was eliminated before the start of the series season-ending Championship 4 event at Phoenix. Burton closed out the season 8th in the NXS standings. After the four-win rookie campaign, Burton also earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.
2021: Burton will return to the JGR #20 Toyota full-time. As noted above, his 2020 crew chief Ben Beshore moved up to the Cup series to lead Kyle Busch’s team. Jason Ratcliff returns to the NXS to take over that spot for Burton’s #20 team. No firm word on sponsors but DEX Imaging will likely cover some races.

2020: Ross Chastain (Kaulig Racing #10 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Alva, Florida native scored 15 top-fives, 27 top-tens, had a 7.7 average start, an 8.24 average finish and led 553 laps. At the end of the regular season, Chastain was 3rd in points which earned him a spot in the NXS Playoffs Round of 12. He made it through the Round of 12, advanced to the Round of 8 but was eliminated before the start of the series season-ending Championship 4 event at Phoenix. Chastain closed out the season 7th in the NXS standings.
2021: Chastain moves up to the CUP series replacing Matt Kenseth (who decided to return to limited racing) in Chip Ganassi Racing’s #42 Chevrolet Camaro. Jeb Burton has signed on to pilot the Kaulig Racing #10 Chevrolet in 2021. Chastain’s crew chief and sponsors are yet to 
be announced.

         NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NTS)

2020: Christian Eckes (Kyle Busch Motorsports #18 Toyota Tundra) - In 23 races, the Middletown, New York native scored 7 top-fives, 11 top-tens, had a 6.4 average start, a 12.3 average finish and led 179 laps. At the end of the regular season, Eckes was 7th in points which earned him a spot in the NTS Playoffs Round of 10. He was eliminated from the playoffs before the start of the Round of 8 and closed out 2020 8th in the standings. Eckes’ best 2020 results were runner-up finishes; 2nd to CUP regular/KBM team owner Kyle Busch on July 18th at Texas Motor Speedway, 2nd to Matt Crafton on July 25th at Kansas Speedway and 2nd to Zane Smith on Aug. 7th at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
2021: After his first full season in the Truck Series, Eckes finds himself without a ride. KBM has replaced him with Chandler Smith in the #18 Tundra. Eckes recently hinted on Twitter that he “could possibly be headed back to Venturini Motorsports” in the ARCA Menards Series, but nothing has been announced at this time.

2020: Ben Rhodes (ThorSport Racing #99 Ford F-150) - In 23 races, the Louisville, Kentucky native scored 1 win, 9 top-fives, 14 top-tens, had a 7.2 average start, a 9.96 average finish and led 103 laps. At the end of the regular season, his victory in the Sept. 6th South Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Darlington Raceway earned him a spot in the NTS Playoffs Round of 10. He made the cut for the Round of 8 but was eliminated from the playoffs before the series season-ending Championship 4 event. Rhodes closed out the season 7th in the standings.
2021: The only news so far is this statement from ThorSports website: “In 2021 Ben (Rhodes) once again joins ThorSport owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson with the team’s No. 99 Ford F-150.”

                      2021 Tentative NCS Series Team Chart

Car Driver Owner Crew Chief Sponsor
00 Chevy Quin Houff StarCom Racing George Church -
1 Chevy Kurt Busch  Chip Ganassi Racing Matt McCall Monster Energy
2 Ford Brad Keselowski Team Penske Jeremy Bullins Discount Tire
3 Chevy Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Justin Alexander -
4 Ford Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Rodney Childers Busch Beer, Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers Pizza
5 Chevy Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Cliff Daniels -
6 Ford Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Scott Graves Oscar Mayer, Wyndham Rewards, Castrol, Guaranteed Rate
7 Chevy Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Ryan Sparks -
8 Chevy Tyler Reddick  Richard Childress Racing Randall Burdett Okuma
9 Chevy Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Alan Gustafson NAPA Auto Parts, Hooters, LLumar
10 Ford Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Mike Bugarewics  Smithfield
11 Toyota Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Chris Gabehart FedEx
12 Ford Ryan Blaney  Team Penske Todd Gordon -
14 Ford Chase Briscoe - R Stewart-Haas Racing - HighPoint
15 Chevy - Rick Ware Racing  Pat Tryson -
17 Ford Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing Luke Lambert Castrol
18 Toyota Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Ben Beshore M&Ms, Skittles, Pedigree, Interstate Batteries
19 Toyota Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing James Small Auto Owners Ins.
20 Toyota Christopher Bell  Joe Gibbs Racing Adam Stevens Rheem, Craftsman
21 Ford Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing Greg Erwin Motorcraft/Quick Lane
22 Ford Joey Logano Team Penske Paul Wolfe Shell-Pennzoil, AAA, Autotrader, MoneyLion 
23 Toyota Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Mike Wheeler DoorDash, McDonald’s, Columbia Sportswear, Dr Pepper, Root Insurance
24 Chevy William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Rudy Fugle Axalta, Liberty University 
34 Ford Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Drew Blickensderfer -
37 Chevy Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Trent Owens Kroger, Bush's Beans
38 Ford Anthony Alfredo - R Front Row Motorsports Seth Barbour -
41 Ford Cole Custer  Stewart-Haas Racing Mike Shiplett -
42 Chevy Ross Chastain Chip Ganassi Racing - McDonald's
43 Chevy Erik Jones Richard Petty Motorsports Jerry Baxter Victory Junction
47 Chevy Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Brian Pattie Kroger, NOS Energy Drink
48 Chevy Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Greg Ives Ally Financial
51 Chevy - Rick Ware Racing Jason Houghtaling Biohaven Pharmaceuticals’ Nurtec
52 Chevy - Rick Ware Racing Mike Hillman Sr. -
53 Chevy - Rick Ware Racing Todd Parrott -
66 Ford Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Steven Idol -
77 Chevy - Spire Motorsports Kevin Bellicourt -
78 Ford BJ McLeod Live Fast Motorsports - Keen Parts
96 Toyota - Gaunt Brothers Racing - -
99 Chevy Daniel Suarez Trackhouse Racing Travis Mack -
  R - Rookie of The Year contender      
Anthony Ballantoni
Anthony Ballantoni is a Senior Sports Writer at Rotoworld.com.