How Is the 2021 NASCAR Season Shaping Up?

2021 will be the 73rd season of NASCAR and it’s already promising to be one to remember. After all of the disruption in 2020, fans are looking forward to a new season with an itinerary crammed full of racing.

The schedule for 2021 should have been released in spring 2020 but the pandemic delayed the announcement. After a long wait, the details for the season ahead have been revealed - and there’s a shedload of changes for fans to get their teeth into.

Sponsorship Changes
The NASCAR sponsors are always a visible part of track season and for 2021 many new sponsors have been brought on board in the midst of a sponsorship shakeup. Authorized gaming operator BetMGM has joined forces with NASCAR in a deal which will span years.

NASCAR and BetMGM are planning to collaborate in a series of joint ventures which will expand the betting options for racing. Punters will be able to enjoy a live in-game experience with both pre-play and in-play bets available. It is hoped that the partnership will also promote the sport and get more people watching again.

Partnering up with bookmakers is nothing new to NASCAR. In the NASCAR Pinty’s series, the race held in Flamborough, Ontario in 2020 was sponsored by operator Party Casino. Now known as the Party Casino 125 race, it’s more than 40 miles long and when held at the Flamboro Speedway lasting 125 laps.

Casino Party is also the sponsor of Pinty’s team, 22 Racing, one of the most dominant teams in the sport. Winning more National Championships than any other team in the series history, former driver Scott Steckly is responsible for its success.

Your Drivers for NASCAR 2021
Of course, although sponsorship is essential, if there are no drivers there will be no thrilling races. Every year, drivers and teams play musical chairs with many switching places and others leaving completely.

At the time of writing, a total of 23 drivers have been matched up with teams for next season, leaving 17 left to be confirmed. With five races left of 2020, there’s plenty of time to still get a drive but places are starting to be snapped up fast.

Here are the confirmed drivers and their teams for the season ahead:

Chip Ganassi Racing - Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain
Hendrick Motorsports - Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman
Joe Gibbs Racing - Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr
JTG Daugherty Racing - Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Richard Childress Racing - Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick
Roush Fenway Racing - Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher
Starcom Racing - Quin Houff
Stewart-Haas Racing - Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Cole Custer
Team Penske - Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano
Trackhouse Racing - Daniel Suarez
New team (owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin) - Bubba Watson

This means the cars that are still looking to firm up their drivers for next season are:

Germain Racing
Premium Motorsports
Gaunt Brothers
MBM Motorsports Toyota
Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet
Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Go Fas Racing Ford
Front Row Motorsports
Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet
Spire Motorsports

Some teams have more than one free spot, making up the total. If you’ve got eagle eyes, you’ll notice that some drivers have stayed with the same team but swapped their car after another driver has retired or left.

The New Schedule for NASCAR 2021
Now that you’ve got an idea of the racers, all that’s left is to see the race venues for 2021. A restructuring in track ownership meant that it was possible for NASCAR to move races between sites, offering fans something different for the year ahead.

This has meant that this year there will be six road courses, all of which have been spread out evenly across the schedule. Road racing sites include Indianapolis, Circuit of the Americas and Road America.

The move to please NASCAR fan bases by setting up races in Nashville, Texas and Bristol will be a winner, but it’s at the expense of Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland. The All-Star Race is also shifting to Texas from Charlotte, a decision which won’t be universally popular.

Of course, the really big news is the Bristol date which will take place on a dirt track. There are some drivers who cut their teeth on this kind of track such as Bell and Dillon, and they’re sure to do well. Shipping 14,000 loads of dirt to make up the track means that it’s going to take a lot of work to get ready.

Will the change be worth it? We’ll see the end of the season.

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