Big names in NASCAR will be looking for a new ride or a contract extension in 2021
There’s a lot of change on the way for the NASCAR Cup Series. A new car, new rules and the possibility of new tracks.
It’s a year that will shake up a lot of pieces. The cars themselves, will likely be spec chassis, with a single manufacture. That alone will drastically change the sport.
Beyond that, many names that NASCAR fans have become familiar with are in a contract negotiating year. We could see a big shakeup of drivers heading into the 2021 season.
First, Jimmie Johnson will be stepping away from the sport. The seven time champion has left the door open for one the premium seats in all of auto racing, the No. 48 at Hendrick Motorsports.
There’s a couple of guys with one eye on that seat…
Corey LaJoie made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2014.
In 2019, he landed his first full-time ride with Go Fas Racing. He’ll remain with that same team through 2020.
LaJoie has a career best finish of 6th. He grabbed that result last year at Daytona International Speedway.
For 2021, LaJoie is looking for a new ride. He’s already actively on the search.
On January 31st, 2020, LaJoie hand delivered a pen written cursive letter to Rick Hendrick during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction night.
Why cursive? Because nobody even knows what that is anymore and thus it’s an opportunity to stand out.
“I was nervous when I gave it to him, because that guy could change my life and my family’s life forever,” LaJoie said.
“That’s why I spent extra time. I started writing it around Christmas and finally got it nailed down. I had a couple of rough drafts that my wife scratched up for me. It reminded me how English was my least favorite subject in school.”
“It was a letter to say, just keep your eye on me,” LaJoie said.
“Obviously, there’s probably quote-unquote better candidates of what the media and the fans might think, but just no reason why I shouldn’t be considered is kind of what I learned.”
LaJoie has 97 career starts and three top-10s.
Alex Bowman is a border-line veteran NASCAR driver at this point. He made his debut in 2014 with the now defunct BK Racing.
In 2016, he made a handful of starts for Hendrick Motorsports as Dale Earnhardt Jr recovered from injuries.
As Dale JR returned, Bowman was sent back into the simulator room. He turned lap after lap in a digital NASCAR world as he awaited his opportunity.
As Dale Earnhardt Jr announced his retirement, Bowman grabbed his chance. He’s been racing full-time in the No. 88 since 2018.
With 157 career starts, the driver has collected a two wins. That win came last year at Chicagoland Speedway.
There could be two seats open at Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. Bowman is looking for a contract renewal or a new team.
The driver appeared on the scene after racing against Kyle Busch in a late model.
Jones caught the eye of Busch who hired him to drive his truck. Joe Gibbs was later turned onto the talent and he was signed to his Xfinity Series operation.
Erik Jones made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2015 with Joe Gibbs Racing.
There was a lot of talk surrounding Erik Jones heading into 2020. The driver insisted that he knew he’d be racing.
Meanwhile, Christopher Bell sat in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with trip after trip to victory lane. The driver was destined for the Cup Series but no seats were available.
Indeed, Jones signed a renewal with Joe Gibbs Racing. Christopher Bell found a ride with Leavine Family Racing, as they made the switch to Toyota.
However, it was only a 1-year renewal. At the end of 2020, Jones will again be looking for a contract renewal or a new team.
Jones has collected two wins in 115 career starts.
Ryan Blaney made his NCS debut in 2014 with Team Penske. He signed on as a full-time driver for Wood Brothers Racing in 2015.
In 2018, Blaney moved back to Team Penske, this time, as a full-time driver. He’s collected two races wins since.
Blaney is great at building his brand. He has a weekly podcast that shows his true personality, sometimes pushing the corporate side in the trash. He’s built a large following of fans in his short career so far.
Blaney has 166 starts and two career wins.
For 2021, Blaney was set to be looking for a ride. However, as of Phoenix Raceway, Blaney has renewed with Team Penske and taken himself out of the free agent ring.
Brad Keselowski made his NASCAR Cup Series debut with Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. In just his third attempt, he picked up a win driving for Phoenix Racing, back in 2009.
In 2010, Keselowski landed a full-time ride with Team Penske. He’s been with the team ever since.
Keselowski is now 36-years-old. He’s a veteran of the sport.
Keselowski has collected 30 wins at the NASCAR Cup Series level with 381 races run. He’s the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion and the leader at Team Penske.
Heading into the 2021 season, he’ll be looking for a new contract.
Larson made his full-time NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2014 with Chip Ganassi Racing. He’s collected six race wins in 2019 races.
The NASCAR driver from California is now 27-years-old.
Larson has stated that he’d like to remain with Chip Ganassi. He’s loyal to Chip as he gave him his shot in the sport.
One thing is for sure, wherever he lands, dirt racing is still important. The driver will not sign with a team that doesn’t allow him to run dirt races on a somewhat regular basis.
Meanwhile, Tony Stewart has stated multiple times that he would like to have Larson on his cup series operation.
Larson has 223 starts and six wins to his resume.
Following the 2020 season, Kyle Larson will be looking for a contract extension with CGR or he’ll be looking for a new team.