Race Weekend Central

NASCAR 101: So, What Else Is New?

Silly Season practically begins halfway through the previous season every year, and chances are you’ve heard the narratives of drivers like Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer and Brian Scott (and more!) plenty by now, so much so that you’re practically an expert when it comes to the driver and team changes that have permeated the discussion surrounding the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pre-season.

But, look, I get it. Not all of us have time to keep up with every single change, each announcement, any and all revelations about the minutiae that is the NASCAR team charts. And that’s OK! Things to do, right? People to see. Other sports to watch. Internet articles about Chase Elliott on which to comment.

As NASCAR enters the first full weekend for its three national series, take a gander at some of the other roster changes that happened over the offseason as you prepare for a Friday, Saturday and Sunday full of racing.

Landon Cassill, No. 38 Front Row Motorsports, Sprint Cup Series: Landon Cassill remains in the Cup Series full-time this season, but with a new team: Front Row Motorsports, rather than his previous Hillman Racing ride. Look for the No. 38 (formerly driven by David Gilliland) to provide some much-needed stability and backing for Cassill that he hasn’t necessarily possessed the last few years.

Chris Buescher, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports, Sprint Cup Series: Speaking of Front Row Motorsports, Chris Buescher moves into a full-time Cup ride as Cassill’s teammate. There’s major Roush Fenway Racing help with the team this year, so don’t be surprised if both teams — especially, perhaps, the team of defending XFINITY Series champion Buescher — improve on the organization’s 2015.

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade NKP)
After three years in the XFINITY Series, Regan Smith heads back to Cup with the same number.(Photo: Nigel Kinrade NKP)

Regan Smith, No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing, Sprint Cup Series: Remember when Regan Smith drove the No. 7 for JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series the last few seasons? Same number, very different team and series for 2016.

David Ragan, No. 23 BK Racing, Sprint Cup Series: After finishing out the season for Michael Waltrip Racing before its demise, David Ragan is back to an underdog role with BK Racing, this time as a teammate to Matt DiBenedetto.

Elliott Sadler, No. 1 JR Motorsports, XFINITY Series: Same number, different team (think Clint Bowyer in the Cup Series); Elliott Sadler jumps ship again, this time to JR Motorsports, virtually taking over for Chase Elliott. Expect more of the same — which is to say, plenty of solid runs, maybe a few wins. Championship this time around? Stay tuned.

Justin Allgaier, No. 7 JR Motorsports, XFINITY Series: Justin Allgaier leaps back into the XFINITY Series after two season trying out Cup, but don’t think of this as too harsh a demotion; he’ll be competing for a championship in Regan Smith’s old ride.

Blake Koch, No. 11 Kaulig Racing, XFINITY Series: Similar situation as last season for Blake Koch, who drove the No. 8 for TriStar Motorsports in 2015, except now he’s with Kaulig Racing, operated by the same folks as his sponsor LeafFilter.

Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing, XFINITY Series: Not much to speak of here, just a number and crew chief change.

Dakoda Armstrong, No. 28 JGL Racing, XFINITY Series: Dakoda Armstrong moves from Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 to JGL Racing’s No. 28. Not as much prestige there, but JGL has been steadily improving, so keep Armstrong and Co. in mind as possible surprises.

Jeb Burton, No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports, XFINITY Series: Did Jeb Burton move to the Cup Series too soon? Very possibly. Well, now’s his chance to redeem himself a bit.

Ryan Preece, No. 01 JD Motorsports, XFINITY Series: Ryan Preece finally gets a shot for the full season in a NASCAR national series. Ross Chastain impressed with the organization last year, and don’t think Preece won’t have a similar trajectory.

Ray Black, Jr., No. 07 SS-Greenlight Racing, XFINITY Series: Ray Black, Jr. and his Truck Series team move up to XFINITY for 2016. Probably the biggest unknown of the bunch given the team and driver’s novelty in the series.

(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
With a win to his name and the defending champions to ride with, Chris Bell shows potential for 2016.(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)

Christopher Bell, No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports, Camping World Truck Series: The defending series driver championship-winning team gains a new driver in Eldora-winning Christopher Bell. A second title probably isn’t in the cards — Bell’s still fairly new to this whole pavement thing — but strong runs should be on the menu.

William Byron, No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports, Camping World Truck Series: The other full-time driver for Kyle Busch Motorsports impressed in ARCA last season, despite his less-than-stellar Truck Series debut late last season.

Daniel Hemric, No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing, Camping World Truck Series: Daniel Hemric moves up in the series hierarchy a bit, from NTS Motorsports to Brad Keselowski Racing. Expect an uptick in average finish too, maybe even a win.

Johnny Sauter, No. 21 GMS Racing, Camping World Truck Series: Well, it’s not ThorSport Racing, but Johnny Sauter should remain dependably strong this season.

Austin Self, No. 22 AM Racing, Camping World Truck Series: ARCA standout Austin (Wayne, occasionally) Self moves to the Truck Series with his own team. Key word: own team, which is also a new team to the series. Lots of unknowns, but Self has shown potential.

Tyler Reddick, No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing, Camping World Truck Series: Virtually the same, except in the No. 29 instead of the No. 19.

Grant Enfinger, No. 33 GMS Racing, Camping World Truck Series: The defending ARCA champion is in a truck this year. Whether it’s a full-time ride or not may be up in the air; some reports have had Kaz Grala potentially driving as well.

Ben Rhodes, No. 41 ThorSport Racing, Camping World Truck Series: This will probably be a much better fit for Ben Rhodes, who spent last season in a part-time situation with JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series. The results will come as a result.

Tommy Joe Martins, No. 44 Martins Motorsports, Camping World Truck Series: Tommy Joe Martins, who tried a full-time effort in the XFINITY Series in 2014, tries again in the Truck Series this time.

Jordan Anderson, No. 66 Bolen Motorsports, Camping World Truck Series: This team ran a few times in 2015 with Jordan Anderson, using Mike Harmon’s No. 74 number and points. This time around, they’re on their own.

Carlos Contreras, No. 71 Contreras Motorsports, Camping World Truck Series: After bouncing around the sport the last few years, Carlos Contreras lands with his own team, the No. 71, co-owned by his brother Enrique. Don’t be surprised if Enrique Contreras, III, Contreras’ nephew, shows up a few times.

Ryan Truex, No. 81 Hattori Racing Enterprises, Camping World Truck Series: As it stands, Ryan Truex and Shigeaki Hattori plan to run the full season in the No. 81, though an interview with Truex indicated there are plenty of details that seem to still need worked out.

Rico Abreu, No. 98 ThorSport Racing, Camping World Truck Series: You’ll hear a lot about Rico Abreu, who takes over for Johnny Sauter at ThorSport this season. Believe the hype.

About the author

Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.

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