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Austin Dillon
Look Ahead

48 days to NASCAR’s season opener in Daytona

by Anthony Ballantoni
Updated On: December 27, 2020, 12:58 pm ET

Only 48 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 11th-placed Austin Dillon’s 2020 NASCAR season and snapshots on 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: Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing #14 Ford Mustang) - In 36 races, the Emporia, Kansas native scored 2 top-fives, 12 top-tens, had a 13.0 average start, a 14.69 average finish and led 280 laps. His best finish was runner-up to race-winner Brad Keselowski (by 0.471 seconds) in the May 31st Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. At the end of the regular season, Bowyer was 13th in points which earned him a spot in the NCS Playoffs Round of 16. He also made it into the Round of 12 but was eliminated before the start of the Round of 8. He closed out the season 12th in the NCS standings.
2021: The 2020 season finale at Phoenix was also Bowyer’s final full-time race in NASCAR. He has joined the FOX Sports team covering the live broadcasts of NCS races alongside former Cup driver Jeff Gordon beginning in February. SHR XFINITY Series driver Chase Briscoe has moved up to drive SHR’s #14 Cup entry this season.

2020: Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 35 races of the 36 run (he missed the Aug. 16th race at the Daytona Road Course due to a positive Covid-19 test result), the Lewisville, North Carolina native scored 1 win, 4 top-fives, 9 top-tens, had a 15.4 average start, a 16.17 average finish and led 135 laps. His victory in the July 19th O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway earned him a spot in the Playoffs Round of 16. He also made it into the Round of 12 but was eliminated before the start of the Round of 8. He closed out the season 12th in the NCS standings.
2021: Austin Dillon will continue driving his Grandfather’s #3 Chevrolet at least through next season. Crew chief Justin Alexander will return as well. No word on firmed-up sponsorship at this time.

           NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS)

2020: Riley Herbst (Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Toyota Supra) - In 33 races, the Las Vegas, Nevada native scored 4 top-fives, 17 top-tens, had an 11.3 average start, a 15.97 average finish and led 15 laps. At the end of the regular season, Herbst was 10th in points which earned him a spot in the NXS Playoffs Round of 12. He was eliminated before the start of the Round of 8. He finished the season 12th in the NXS standings. His best results were 2nd place finishes in the Feb. 29th Production Alliance Group 300 at the Auto Club Speedway and the July 9th Shady Rays 200 at the Kentucky Speedway. Herbst also drove JGR’s #18 Toyota in 4 ARCA Menards Series races. He started on the pole in 2 races, won at Michigan and finished 3rd, 4th and 7th in the other 3 events.
2021: Herbst decided to leave JGR at the end of 2020. As noted above, Chase Briscoe moved up to Cup to drive Clint Bowyer’s #14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing. Riley Herbst has been hired to take over Briscoe’s #98 Ford Mustang for SHR in 2021. Crew chief Richard Boswell II stays on to lead the #98 team. Monster Energy will be Herbst’s primary sponsor.

2020: Brandon Brown (Brandonbilt Motorsports #68 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Woodbridge, Virginia native scored 1 top-five, 6 top-tens, had a 14.6 average start, a 15.97 average finish and led 9 laps. At the end of the regular season, Brown was 12th in points which earned him a spot in the NXS Playoffs Round of 12. He was eliminated before the start of the Round of 8 and closed out the season 11th in the NXS standings. His best finish was a 5th place in the Oct. 24th O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway. 
2021: Brown’s family-owned team plans on entering another full season. Doug Randolph will return as crew chief for the #68 team. Sponsorship has not been announced.

         NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NTS)

2020: Raphael Lessard (Kyle Busch Motorsports #4 Toyota Tundra) - In 23 races, the St. Joseph de Beauce, Quebec native scored 1 victory (Oct. 3rd Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Talladega Superspeedway), 4 top-fives, 7 top-tens, had a 13.0 average start, a 15.26 average finish, led 19 laps and closed out the season 12th in the truck series standings.
2021: Lessard announced he has left the KBM team and has moved to GM Racing for 2021. He will pilot a Chevrolet Silverado (possibly the #24) in at least 12 NTS races. No word yet on who will be his crew chief or sponsors. John Hunter Nemechek has been hired to drive KBM’s #4 Tundra this season.

2020: Derek Kraus (McAnally-Hilgemann Racing #19 Toyota Tundra) - In 23 races, the Stratford, Wisconsin native scored 3 top-fives, 13 top-tens, had a 13.0 average start, a 12.96 average finish, led 31 laps and finished his rookie season 11th in the truck series standings. His best result was a 2nd place finish in the Sept. 6th South Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Darlington Raceway.
2021: Kraus will return for another full-time season in MHR’s #19 NAPA Filters Toyota Tundra. His 2020 crew chief, Kevin Bellicourt, has moved up to the Cup series to lead Spire Motorsports #77 Chevrolet team. Matt Noyce joins MHR as the #19 crew chief after serving in that role for Ben Rhodes in the truck series for the past two years.

                      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 - 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.