The Official 2024 NASCAR Season Discussion Thread

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Since there was no NASCAR thread beyond the 2020 season, I'd figure since this is a new year, that I create a 2021 NASCAR discussion thread. This thread will combine offseason and regular seasons for all of NASCAR. This thread will have news from the Camping World Truck Series, the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series.

Anyways, here's a couple of news going on in NASCAR.

Entertainer Pitbull's now co-owner of the new Trackhouse Racing Team with Justin Marks.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- New NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing has brought entertainer Pitbull on as an ownership partner for the organization, which will make its debut next month at the Daytona 500.

Trackhouse made the Friday announcement with a video on Twitter in which the Grammy winner is featured dancing to an "I believe we will win" chant. He also holds signs that say: "Knuckle Up," "Fight Hard" and "Buckle Up."

The Cuban American, known also as Mr. Worldwide, joins NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan as celebrity owners entering NASCAR this year. Jordan is a part owner of 23XI Racing with Denny Hamlin.

"I've been a fan of the NASCAR story since the movie 'Days of Thunder,'" Pitbull said in a statement. "We are going to show the world NASCAR is not only a sport but a culture."

Pitbull noted that the announcement coincided with his 40th birthday on Friday: "So get ready! Dale!" he ended with his signature tagline that translates to "Let's go!"

Trackhouse was launched late last year by former driver Justin Marks, who struggled to find a charter that guarantees entry into every Cup Series race on the schedule. He ultimately leased one from Spire Motorsports to get his organization on the grid.

The team has hired Mexican driver Daniel Suarez for the No. 99 Chevrolet, but it will not be NASCAR's first pairing of a Latino driver and team owner. Juan Pablo Montoya, a Colombian, drove for Chip Ganassi Racing when it was part owned by Felix Sabates, a Cuban.

ESPN
It's good to see Pitbull follow the footsteps of Michael Jordan, by putting interest in co-owning a racing team, having Daniel Suarez drive the #99 car.

This is sort out of the NASCAR realm, but last night Kyle Larson won his second straight Chili Bowl midget race over Christopher Bell:

It took Kyle Larson 13 years to win the coveted Chili Bowl Nationals for the first time, as he finally broke through in 2020 to take home his first Golden Driller. It didn't take him nearly as long to earn his second.

Saturday night in "the Super Bowl of midget racing" in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Kyle Larson paced the A Main and held off a fierce challenge from Christopher Bell to win his second-straight Chili Bowl. Justin Grant finished second, followed by Tanner Thorson, Cannon McIntosh, and Daryn Pittman.

Advancing through several days of racing at the Tulsa Expo Center, Larson took the lead from Grant early on and held him at bay before receiving a serious challenge from longtime dirt rival and fellow NASCAR competitor Christopher Bell. Bell's chances of winning ended when he hit the cushion and went for a wild flip, and Larson was able to survive a pair of restarts to go back-to-back in one of dirt racing's most prestigious events.

I got the jump there and tried to set a fast pace, but they were all over me kind of the whole race," Larson told MAVTV. "Just had to fight all race long, and got the job done. It wasn't easy, but it feels amazing."

While the Chili Bowl centers around a completely different discipline of racing, the annual week of racing held each January features notable NASCAR influences and serves as a kickoff to a new year of racing. In addition to Larson and Bell, other NASCAR drivers who made their way to Tulsa included defending Cup Series Champion Chase Elliott, Cup Rookie of the Year contender Chase Briscoe, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., J.J. Yeley, and several others. Stenhouse would go on to make the A Main, finishing seventh.

Last year, Larson's first victory in the Chili Bowl marked the beginning of what should have been a great 2020 for him. But during a two-month lockdown, Larson lost his Cup ride and good standing with NASCAR after he was caught using a racial slur while joking around with friends during an iRacing event. Larson spent the rest of the season racing sprint cars, but was reinstated by NASCAR at the beginning of the new year after he completed sensitivity training among other acts. Larson will drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2021, driving the team's No. 5.

Larson is the fourth driver in Chili Bowl history to win the event in consecutive years, all of whom have done so in the last decade. Larson joins Kevin Swindell (2010 - 2013), Rico Abreu (2015 - 2016), and Christopher Bell (2017 - 2019) in that category, with only the late Bryan Clauson interrupting such a trend with his lone victory in 2014.

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Congrats to Larson on getting his second straight victory. He deserves the recognition and with the win, hopefully the win boosts his confidence for the upcoming Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports in the 5 car.
 
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I’m fucking ready! NASCAR YEAH!!!!!


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Ty Dillon has found a ride with Gaunt Brothers Racing, driving the #96 car:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ty Dillon landed a Daytona 500 ride with Gaunt Brothers Racing, a pairing of a driver and team both trying to rebuild in 2021.

Dillon spent four seasons driving for Germain Racing but lost his ride when lack of sponsorship led the team to close. Gaunt Brothers last year ran its first full Cup season but struggled in part because COVID-19 protocols wiped out almost all practice, qualifying and testing.

Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee Company will sponsor the No. 96 Toyota as Dillon attempts to qualify for NASCAR's Feb. 14 opener at Daytona International Speedway. It's the only race Dillon has announced for 2021, but he's eligible for the Busch Clash and could land the 23XI Racing seat for the exhibition event on Daytona's road course.

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It's good to see Ty still managing to get a ride after Germain Racing closed their doors this past season. Hopefully, the Gaunt Brothers Racing team can give him a better ride and opportunity to succeed more in 2021.
 
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An eleven race contract isn't too bad - with three weeks to go till season starts
 
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Spire Motorsports announced Tuesday that Jamie McMurray will return to NASCAR Cup Series competition next month, driving the No. 77 Chevrolet in the Daytona 500.

McMurray last competed in NASCAR’s top division in 2019, also in a one-off start with Spire in The Great American Race. McMurray — who joined FOX Sports as a NASCAR analyst after his full-time driving days — has seven Cup Series victories, including a triumph in the 2010 Daytona 500.

Spire Motorsports announced Tuesday that Jamie McMurray will return to NASCAR Cup Series competition next month, driving the No. 77 Chevrolet in the Daytona 500.

McMurray last competed in NASCAR’s top division in 2019, also in a one-off start with Spire in The Great American Race. McMurray — who joined FOX Sports as a NASCAR analyst after his full-time driving days — has seven Cup Series victories, including a triumph in the 2010 Daytona 500.

NASCAR
I'm happy to see McMurray back in NASCAR part-time and racing the Daytona 500.

I cannot wait for NASCAR season to get here. To be serious, I'll try my best to watch all three Series this season.
 

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For all you e-sports fans, especially eNASCAR fans, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is returning this year:

After a historic debut season that set the high watermark in viewership for televised esports programming, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is set to return in 2021.


NASCAR and iRacing jointly announced today that a new-look Pro Invitational will see NASCAR Cup Series stars compete virtually in a 10-race schedule that will complement NASCAR’s real-life racing schedule, offering fans a new mid-week competition featuring NASCAR’s top drivers. FOX Sports, which helped NASCAR and iRacing set viewership records with the inaugural Pro Invitational last season, will broadcast the first five races of the series live in primetime on FS1. NBC Sports will air the final five races of the series, with its schedule and details to be announced at a later date.

With the NASCAR Cup Series set to visit new tracks and new markets in 2021, this year’s Pro Invitational will feature a mix of tracks designed primarily to preview the upcoming weekend’s "real life" race – a feature that will be particularly beneficial in giving fans an idea of what to expect as the real-life drivers take on challenging new circuits throughout the season.

"The success of our eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was underscored by an industry-wide effort to entertain fans during the early months of the global pandemic," said Tim Clark, NASCAR senior vice president and chief digital officer. "This year the Pro Invitational will return with a schedule of midweek races that will bridge the gap between our real-world races each weekend."

"After last year’s Pro Invitational success, we’re proud that our partners at NASCAR, FOX, and the race teams view the series as an integral part of their marketing and fan engagement strategies for 2021," said Steve Myers, iRacing executive producer. "It’s even more fulfilling that the industry has rallied around our platform not only as the most authentic re-creation of the sport, but also a terrific tool to help grow NASCAR’s audience and generate revenue to strengthen the entire ecosystem."

The first five mid-week events will air on FS1 on select Wednesday nights beginning March 24th, featuring an exciting mix of races that include Bristol Motor Speedway’s new dirt configuration, fan-favorites such as Talladega Superspeedway and Darlington Raceway, and Austin, Texas’ famed Circuit of the Americas’ facility. NBC Sports will pick up the second half of the 10-race season once the network’s broadcast window begins in June.

"FOX Sports embraced the eNASCAR iRacing Invitational Series in the spring as a way to keep race fans entertained, but we quickly realized it was a product and collaboration that we would continue to explore," said FOX Sports Executive Producer, EVP/Head of Operations and Production Brad Zager. "The product is best-in-class, it delivers NASCAR to an even broader audience and, let’s face it, it’s a heckuva lot of fun."

Details around the fifth race in the FS1 window, plus further plans for the second half of the ’21 Pro Invitational schedule, will be announced at a later date.

2021 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series (First Five-Races)
DateVenueNetworkTime (ET)
Wednesday, March 24Bristol – DirtFS18-9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 21TalladegaFS17-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 5DarlingtonFS18-9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 19COTAFS17-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 2Track-TBDFS18-9:30 p.m.


JAYSKI'S SILLY SEASON SITE
 
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ThorSport is back with Toyota. I knew that they were leaving Ford, but hoped that they would go back to Chevy.


Enfinger not racing full time after all is bad news for me in fantasy. He will be sharing a ride with Christian Eckes. I chose him thinking that he was racing full time in Trucks again. He had more success than Sauter and Crafton last year I thought. I don't get their thinking with that.
 
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Damn, they wasn’t even with Ford that long was they?


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Damn, they wasn’t even with Ford that long was they?


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Nope. Only 3 years. I wonder what Ford teams are in the truck series because Ford depended on ThorSport after BKR closed down.

Edit: Ford basically is leaning on David Gilillands teams and Front Row now. Hailie Deegan and Todd G.
 
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Martin Truex Jr. offered a brief update on Friday regarding his contract status, as the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season serves as the last year of his current deal with Joe Gibbs Racing.

While negotiations are ongoing, the 2017 champ continuing his driving duties in the No. 19 Toyota beyond this year appear to be trending in a positive direction.

“We have had talks and things have moved forward,” Truex Jr. said during his Daytona 500 Media Day availability.

On Feb. 1, the organization announced that Truex’s teammate, Denny Hamlin, signed a multi-year contract extension to remain at JGR. Hamlin’s longtime sponsor, FedEx, also agreed to a multi-year partnership with the No. 11 Toyota team.

In two seasons under the Joe Gibbs Racing banner, Truex has earned eight victories, 29 top-five and 47 top-10 finishes.
NASCAR

Truex deserves an extension with the success he's had with JGR no doubt. The team will continue to succeed with outstanding drivers, as long as they continue to stay together for many years.
 

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I really wish that somehow MTJ would leave JGR but there probably wont be any good Chevy rides open for next year unless Kurt Busch retires and I doubt that Truex would go back to that 1 car.

Anyway, BUSCH CLASH tonight!
 
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Getting closer to the green!

Green Flag is supposed to be 7:14.


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Starting Lineup


1st – Ryan Blaney
2nd – Alex Bowman
3rd – Denny Hamlin
4th – Brad Keselowski
5th – William Byron
6th – Tyler Reddick
7th – Chase Elliott
8th – Cole Custer
9th – Erik Jones
10th – Joey Logano
11th – Ryan Newman
12th – Matt DiBenedetto
13th – Chris Buescher
14th – Ty Dillon
15th – Kurt Busch
16th – Kyle Busch
17th – Kevin Harvick
18th – Martin Truex Jr.
19th – Austin Dillon
20th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21st – Aric Almirola


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He’s just trying to make it interesting.


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WE ARE RACING!!!!