Movers and Shakers – 2021 updates

NASCAR accomplished the improbable and what some deemed the impossible task of completing a full season of racing in 2020. Their innovation, perseverance, and adherence to safety protocols led the way in the sports world.

We celebrated new champions and said goodbye to old friends, reminding us that change is inevitable.

As we anticipate another exciting season in NASCAR, here is your guide to partnerships continued and new alliances formed in preparation for the 2021 season.


American Muscle

This list of driver and crew chief changes will be updated as new information becomes available.

Justin Allgaier:

2020 – No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Allgaier will return to JR Motorsports in 2021 for his sixth season with the team in the Xfinity Series.

Aric Almirola:

2020 – No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the Cup Series

2021 Status – On Sept. 1, Almirola confirmed that he will return to drive the No. 10 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2021.

Tyler Ankrum:

2020 – No. 26 GMS Racing Chevrolet in the Truck Series

2021 Status – In October, GMS Racing announced that Ankrum would return for a second season with the team.

Michael Annett:

2020 – No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Annett will return to drive the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevy in 2021, his fifth season with the organization.

Christopher Bell:

2020 – No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Christopher Bell is moving to Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No. 20 car in the Cup Series in 2021. He replaces Erik Jones in the No. 20 as Jones moves on to Richard Petty Motorsports. LFR made the decision to leave NASCAR at the end of the 2020 season, selling the team and its assets. Adam Stevens will move from the No. 18 Kyle Busch team to serve as crew chief for Bell in 2021.

Josh Berry:

2020 – JR Motorsports Late Model Program

2021 Status – Josh Berry will run a partial Xfinity Series schedule next year in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, competing in approximately 12 races in the first half of the 2021 season.

Ben Beshore:

2020 – Crew chief for the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Beshore will move to the Cup Series as crew chief for the No. 18 JGR Toyota driven by Kyle Busch in 2021. For the past two years, he worked as an Xfinity Series crew chief for various drivers, most recently, Harrison Burton. Before moving to the Xfinity Series Beshore was an engineer for the No. 18 team.

Ryan Blaney:

2020 – No. 12 Team Penske Ford in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Blaney will return to Team Penske after signing a multi-year contract extension on March 6.

Alex Bowman:

2020 – No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Bowman will remain with Hendrick Motorsports in 2021, moving to the No. 48 Chevrolet to replace Jimmie Johnson who retired from full-time competition at the end of the 2020 season. The 88 will not be used by HMS in 2021. After signing Kyle Larson, they announced that he will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet.

Clint Bowyer:

2020 – No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the Cup Series

2021 Status – On Oct. 8, Bowyer announced that he would retire from full-time competition in the Cup Series at the conclusion of the 2020 season. He will move into the FOX broadcast booth in 2021.

Spencer Boyd:

2020 – No. 20 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet in the Truck Series

2021 Status – On Nov. 25, Young’s Motorsports announced that Boyd’s contract has been extended through 2021 and he will continue to compete in the No. 20 Chevrolet.

Chase Briscoe:

2020 – No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Briscoe will move to the Cup Series in 2021. He will drive the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford vacated by Clint Bowyer.

William Byron:

2020 – No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Byron will continue to compete in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after signing a contract extension through the 2022 season. As noted below, Rudy Fugle will partner with Byron as crew chief.

Harrison Burton:

2020 – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Burton will return to drive the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Xfinity Series with Jason Ratcliff as crew chief.

Jeb Burton:

2020 – Part-time in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series

2021 status – Burton will run a full-time Xfinity Series schedule in 2021 with Kaulig Racing, taking over driving duties for Ross Chastain who is moving to the Cup Series.  

Ross Chastain:

2020 – No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Chastain will advance to the Cup Series to drive the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet full-time. He will replace Matt Kenseth who filled in for the suspended Kyle Larson in 2020.

Austin Cindric:

2020 – No. 22 Team Penske Ford in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – In October, Team Penske announced that Cindric had signed a contract extension. He will continue to drive in the Xfinity Series in 2021 and will also run some Cup races as he prepares for a move to the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Cup Series team in 2022.

Sheldon Creed:

2020 – No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet in the Truck Series

2021 Status –Creed will return to GMS Racing for his third full-time season in the Truck Series next year.  

Hailie Deegan:

2020 – No. 4 DGR-Crosley Ford in the ARCA Menards Series

2021 Status – Deegan will move up to the Truck Series and run a full-time schedule in the No. 17 DGR-Crosley Ford. Mike Hillman Jr., (Raphael Lessard’s former crew chief at KBM) will be Deegan’s crew chief.

Matt DiBenedetto:

2020 – No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford in the Cup Series

2021 Status –DiBenedetto signed a one-year contract extension to return for his second season with Wood Brothers Racing in 2021. He will be replaced by Austin Cindric in 2022.  

Ty Dillon:

2020 – No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Ty Dillon has not announced his plans for the 2021 season. On Sept. 21, Germain Racing announced that it was selling its charter to 23XI Racing with Bubba Wallace as the driver of the No. 23 Toyota.

Rudy Fugle:

2020 – Crew chief for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series

2021 Status – Fugle will move up to the Cup Series as crew chief for William Byron’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He will replace Chad Knaus who will leave the pit-box after being promoted to vice president of competition at HMS.

Noah Gragson:

2020 – No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – On Aug. 27, it was confirmed that Gragson will return to JR Motorsports for the 2021 Xfinity Series season.

Justin Haley:

2020 – No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Haley will drive for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2021, returning for his third season with the team. 

Daniel Hemric:

2020 – No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet part-time in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Hemric will move to Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No. 18 Toyota full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with crew chief, Dave Rogers.

Riley Herbst:

2020 – No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – Herbst is moving to the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in 2021 and will compete full-time in the Xfinity Series.

Austin Hill:

2020 – No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota in the Truck Series

2021 Status – Hill will return to Hattori Racing for a third season in 2021.

Joe Gibbs Racing:

2021 Xfinity Series – JGR will field a fourth Xfinity Series car, the No. 54, that will rotate different drivers throughout the season. Chris Gayle will serve as the crew chief for the No. 54. The drivers and schedule for this car will be released at a later date.  

Jimmie Johnson:

2020 – No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Johnson retired from full-time competition in the Cup Series at the end of the 2020 season. The seven-time champ has indicated that he may run select NASCAR races in the future but for now, IndyCar seems to be his main focus for 2021. 

Brandon Jones:

2020 – No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Xfinity Series

2021 Status – In October, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Jones would return to drive the No. 19 Toyota in 2021 with crew chief, Jeff Meendering.

Erik Jones:

2020 – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Cup Series

2021 Status – After being notified that JGR would not renew his contract for next year, Jones signed a multi-year deal to drive in the Cup Series for Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 43 Chevrolet. The opportunity arose after Bubba Wallace signed with 23XI Racing to drive the No. 23 next year.  

Matt Kenseth:

2020 – No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Kenseth came out of retirement to take over as driver of the No. 42 after the suspension of Kyle Larson in 2020. On Sept. 21, CGR signed Ross Chastain as the driver of the No. 42 for 2021. Kenseth currently has no plans to return to full-time racing.

Brad Keselowski:

2020 – No. 2 Team Penske Ford in the Cup Series

2021 Status – On Aug. 3, Team Penske renewed Keselowski’s contact and confirmed that he will return as the driver of the No. 2 Ford in 2021. The announcement did not state if the contract extended beyond next season.

Chad Knaus:

2020 – Crew chief for the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Knaus will leave the pit-box after being promoted to vice president of competition at HMS.

Corey LaJoie:

2020 – No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford in the Cup Series

2021 Status – In August, LaJoie confirmed that he would not return to Go Fas Racing in 2021. He has stated that he is in “discussions with several other opportunities to continue improving competitively in the Cup Series.”

Kyle Larson:

2020 – Previous driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in the Cup Series. Larson was suspended in April and fired from CGR after using a racial slur during an iRacing event. He was reinstated by NASCAR in October and is eligible to return to racing on Jan. 1, 2021.

2021 Status – Larson was signed by Hendrick Motorsports to a multi-year deal on Oct. 28. He is slated to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet in the Cup Series in 2021 with Johnson’s former crew chief, Cliff Daniels, on the pit box.

Raphael Lessard:

2020 – No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota in the Truck Series

2021 Status – GMS Racing announced on Nov. 24 that Lessard will compete in at least 12 Truck Series races for them in 2021 and attempt to find sponsorship to participate in the full season. The 12 races are yet to be determined.

Sam Mayer:

2020 – Part-time in the Truck Series and competing in select races in the ARCA Series for GMS Racing

2021 Status – Mayer will move to JR Motorsports and drive the second half of the Xfinity Series season in 2021. He will drive full-time in the series in 2022.  

B.J. McLeod:

2021 Status – On Nov. 20, it was announced that Matt Tifft and B.J. McLeod have formed a Cup Series team named Live Fast Motorsports after purchasing Archie St. Hilare’s ownership interest of Circle Sports Racing’s charter with Joe Falk. McLeod will drive the team’s No. 78 Ford and the organization will have a strategic partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Brett Moffitt:

2000 – No. 02 Our Motorsports Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series/No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet in the Truck Series

2021 Status – Moffitt will drive full-time in the No. 02 Chevrolet for Our Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.  

John Hunter Nemechek:

2020 – No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford in the Cup Series.

2021 Status – On Nov. 16, FRM released a statement saying that Nemechek had informed them that he would “not be returning to the organization.” Nemechek posted a statement on Twitter indicating that any “future plans to be announced at a later date.” Front Row Motorsports has not addressed its plans for 2021.

*Update on Nov. 23 – Kyle Busch Motorsports announced that they have signed Nemechek to drive the No. 4 Toyota in the Camping World Truck Series for the 2021 season. He replaces Raphael Lessard in the No. 4. Lessard’s status with KBM was not addressed in the press release.

Chase Purdy:

2020 – Part-time in Truck Series for GMS Racing

2021 Status – Purdy will compete full-time with GMS Racing next year in the Truck Series

Tyler Reddick:

2020 – No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Reddick will return for his second season in the Richard Childress Racing No. 8 Chevrolet next year.  

Mark Setzer:

2020 – Crew Chief for JD Motorsports w/Gary Keller

2021 Status – Setzer will serve as crew chief for the No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet next season, replacing Andrew Abbott.

Zane Smith:

2020 – No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet in the Truck Series

2021 Status – Smith will return to GMS Racing for a second season.

Adam Stevens:

2020 – Crew chief for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series.

2021 Status – Stevens will move to the No. 20 JGR team as crew chief for Christopher Bell next season. He worked with Kyle Bush from 2015–2020, winning two championships.  

Daniel Suarez:

Current ride – No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota in the Cup Series

2021 Status – Suarez will compete full-time in the No. 99 Chevrolet with the newly formed Cup Series team of Trackhouse Racing. Travis Mack will join the team as crew chief.   

Ryan Truex: 2020 – No. 40 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, part-time.

2021 Status – Announced on Nov. 24, Truex will return to drive the No. 40 Niece Motorsports Chevy in the Camping World Truck Series but will upgrade to a full-time season. It will be his first full-time ride in the series since 2017.

Bubba Wallace:

2020 – No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet in the Cup Series

2021 Status – On Sept. 21, Wallace and Denny Hamlin announced that Wallace would drive the No. 23 car for 23XI Racing in 2021, a new team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan, to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series. Freddie Kraft will transition from RPM to continue as spotter for Wallace at 23XI Racing with Mike Wheeler as crew chief.

Mike Wheeler:

2020 – Competition director for Leavine Family Racing in the Cup Series.

2021 Status – Wheeler will join 23XI Racing to serve as the crew chief for Bubba Wallace and the No. 23 team.


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