How does the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup compare to that of the 2019 season? What driver changes took place over the offseason?
The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup is set, and it contains 36 confirmed full-time drivers with an additional two confirmed full-time chartered entries.
However, we already know that not all of these 36 drivers will compete in each of the 36 races on the 2020 schedule, as Gaunt Brothers Racing’s Daniel Suarez and Rick Ware Racing’s J.J. Yeley failed to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Suarez and Yeley are two of the three full-time drivers who are not driving chartered entries in the season, although Yeley is set to drive the chartered #52 Rick Ware Racing Ford throughout the remainder of the year. He failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 driving the #54 Ford for the team. Suarez drives the #96 Toyota.
MBM Motorsports’ Timmy Hill is also set to drive a non-chartered car throughout the whole season. His car, the #66 Ford, was not a full-time entry last year.
There were 33 drivers who competed full-time last season, although only 31 were eligible to score Cup Series points. Only 30 of these 31 drivers competed in all 36 races. But despite the fact that there are only three more drivers in the full-time lineup for 2020 than there were last year, there have been several changes to the lineup from 2019 to 2020.
Of the 33 drivers who competed full-time last season, 27 are set to compete full-time again in 2020, but only 23 of these 27 are set to return to the teams they drove for last year. Additionally, one of these 23 drivers is set to switch cars.
Of the six drivers who competed full-time in the 2019 season but are not set to do so in the 2020 season, two retired, one stepped away from NASCAR due to health reasons, one is set to compete full-time in the Xfinity Series and part-time in the Cup Series, one is set to compete part-time in the Xfinity Series and one simply does not have any ride lined up at this point.
In addition to the 27 drivers who are set to compete full-time again in 2020, nine others are set to join the field as full-time drivers this year. Six of these nine drivers are rookies, but of these six rookies, four have competed in Cup Series races before.
As far as entries are concerned, there are two full-time and chartered entries that won’t be occupied by full-time drivers this year, the #53 Rick Ware Racing Ford and the #77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet. The former acquired a charter when the #36 Front Row Motorsports team shut down after the 2019 season.
Other than that, the rest of the chartered entries are the same; the only difference is that the #51 Rick Ware Racing Ford and the #52 Rick Ware Racing Ford are set to have full-time drivers this year, unlike last year.
Earlier in the offseason, we released a similar list of this nature. With the offseason officially slated to come to a close when the green flag waves to get the 62nd annual Daytona 500 underway this Sunday, here is an updated list of all the changes to the full-time driver lineup from the 2019 season to the 2020 season.
NOTE: (R) means rookie.
Front Row Motorsports
- OUT: Matt Tifft
- IN: John Hunter Nemechek (R)
- OUT: David Ragan
Gaunt Brothers Racing
#96 Toyota (non-chartered)
- IN: Daniel Suarez (full-time)
- OUT: Parker Kligerman (part-time)
JTG Daugherty Racing
- IN: Ryan Preece
- OUT: Chris Buescher
- IN: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- OUT: Ryan Preece
Leavine Family Racing
- IN: Christopher Bell (R)
- OUT: Matt DiBenedetto
#66 Ford (non-chartered)
- IN: Timmy Hill (full-time)
- OUT: Timmy Hill (part-time), Joey Gase (part-time)
- IN: Brennan Poole (R)
- OUT: Ross Chastain
Richard Childress Racing
- IN: Tyler Reddick (R)
- OUT: Daniel Hemric
Rick Ware Racing
- IN: Joey Gase
- IN: J.J. Yeley (non-chartered #54 Ford for Daytona 500, failed to qualify)
Roush Fenway Racing
- IN: Chris Buescher
- OUT: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- IN: Quin Houff (R)
- OUT: Landon Cassill
- IN: Cole Custer (R)
- OUT: Daniel Suarez
Wood Brothers Racing
- IN: Matt DiBenedetto
- OUT: Paul Menard
Fox is set to broadcast the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 live from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, February 16.