NASCAR group keeps getting smaller and smaller

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Coca-Cola, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Coca-Cola, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

The amount of NASCAR Cup Series drivers in the Coca-Cola Racing Family continues to dwindle, and they haven’t added any new ones in several years.

The Coca-Cola Racing Family has been a group of various Coca-Cola-sponsored NASCAR Cup Series drivers for close to two and a half decades.

During each race, fans can expect the sport’s broadcast partners to provide updates on where the members of the Coca-Cola Racing Family are running.

But in recent years, the Coca-Cola Racing Family has dwindled, and it is now down to just four full-time drivers. There were five last year, six in 2020, and seven before that.

The most recent addition came in 2018, and that driver is no longer there.

Back in 2017, seven drivers were a part of the Coca-Cola Racing Family: Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Danica Patrick, Daniel Suarez, and Bubba Wallace.

Patrick was replaced by Kyle Larson ahead of the 2018 season, as she stepped away from full-time competition and ran only the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Larson and Coca-Cola quietly cut ties after the 2019 season, a “previously unreported” move that many fans didn’t actually learn about until Coca-Cola provided no statement on his racial slur in April 2020. He wasn’t replaced.

Then after the 2020 season, Wallace left Richard Petty Motorsports and joined 23XI Racing, which had signed Coca-Cola rival Dr. Pepper as one of their five founding partners. While a replacement was initially expected for Wallace, he did not end up being replaced.

Following the 2021 season, Newman found himself without a full-time ride for the first time since 2001, though he still has ties to the brand. He competed in SRX over the summer.

Now the Coca-Cola Racing Family is down to Dillon, Hamlin, Logano, and Suarez, among active drivers.

Some have even called into question Hamlin’s continued involvement with the brand, given the fact that he is the co-owner of 23XI Racing, but he remains a part of the group.

Nevertheless, Coca-Cola continues to play a huge role in terms of NASCAR sponsorship, serving as the title sponsor for the annual 600-mile World 600 race (Coca-Cola 600) at Charlotte Motor Speedway each Memorial Day Sunday.

The late August race at Daytona International Speedway, which is scheduled to take place this Saturday night, is also named the Coke Zero Sugar 400 (previously the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola).

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In fact, Hamlin won this past May’s Coca-Cola 600, becoming the first member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family to win the longest race on the schedule since Dillon pulled off a fuel mileage upset in 2017.