Much like last season’s schedule, which had to be significantly altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new season will likewise feature numerous one-day shows – a break from the customary two- and three-day race weekends.
The only events that will feature qualifying and practice are the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, the championship race at Phoenix and those held at new venues and configurations.
Last season, some drivers – most notably, Kyle Busch – voiced criticism about the lack of practice sessions. It will be interesting to see how the continued absence of qualifying and practice at many tracks affects some drivers’ attitude and performance.
At the very least, 2020 proved it’s possible for NASCAR to have a season without weekly practices and qualifying sessions.
On the heels of a legendary career, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson retired from NASCAR at the end of 2020. Replacing him at Hendrick Motorsports is Kyle Larson, but Larson is driving Hendrick’s No. 5 car, which hasn’t competed for several years.
Meanwhile, Hendrick driver Alex Bowman has moved from the No. 88 to Johnson’s old No. 48. William Byron is back in the No. 24 Hendrick Chevy while reigning series champ Chase Elliott returns in the No. 9.
With the addition of 28-year-old Larson and the absence of 45-year-old Johnson, the average age of Hendrick Motorsports’ driver lineup is now 26 years old.
“I’m excited about our roster of young talent,” team owner Rick Hendrick said. “We have a team that is built to win races and compete for championships for years to come.”