The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season featured a robust rookie class consisting of four drivers: Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek, who staged a competitive yearlong battle for rookie-of-the-year honors.
No such battle will exist this year, however, as Stewart-Haas Racing newcomer Chase Briscoe is the only full-time driver with rookie status. While it’s virtually a foregone conclusion that Briscoe will be rookie of the year, what isn’t known is how Briscoe will do in Year One at NASCAR’s premier level after a nine-win NASCAR Xfinity Series campaign with SHR in 2020.
Briscoe’s new ride is the No. 14 SHR Ford formerly driven by Clint Bowyer.
“Wins are my benchmark, and Chase has done a lot of winning,” SHR co-owner Gene Haas said. “His stats alone merit his place in Cup.”
It’s pretty uncommon for a driver to begin a new season as a lame duck, but that’s precisely where Matt DiBenedetto finds himself. After making the playoffs on the basis of points but going winless in his first season with Wood Brothers Racing, DiBenedetto was granted a one-year contract extension, with the caveat that 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric would be taking over the No. 21 car in 2022.
In other words, no matter how well DiBenedetto does this year, he’s going to need a new ride for 2022. Nevertheless, DiBenedetto is thankful to be back in the iconic No. 21 Ford for another season.
“I’m confident that with a full season under our belt and working together as a team, we will produce even better results,” DiBenedetto said.