It’s all happening. As the NASCAR season starts winding to a close, more and more drivers are announcing big moves. If you haven’t stayed on top of the news this week, don’t worry—we’ll get you caught up.
Driver Erik Jones is taking over the iconic No. 43 at Richard Petty Motorsports for the 2021 season. Jones has been competing in NASCAR full time since 2017, when he teamed up with Front Row Motorsports before then moving to Joe Gibbs Racing. He has two wins, two pole positions, 33 top-five finishes, and 62 top-10 finishes in 144 career starts.
“It is an incredible honor to have Richard Petty want you to drive for his race team and with the car number he made famous,” Jones said in a team release. “Richard Petty Motorsports has a rich history in the sport, but they are not resting on that history.
“They still have something to prove, and I have something to prove. We are both motivated to write a new chapter. I am proud to be a part of Richard Petty Motorsports.”
Jones has had high expectations placed on his shoulders since he joined the Cup Series, expectations that he hasn’t fully lived up to. But his career will continue with the No. 43.
NASCAR Xfinity Series driver and current points leader Chase Briscoe will move to Stewart-Haas Racing to pilot the No. 14 for the 2021 season. He’ll be replacing Clint Boywer, who announced a few weeks ago that he’ll be retiring from racing and instead heading to the FOX Sports commentary booth.
Briscoe has been on top of it this year. He’s won a career-best nine races and has scored 16 top-five finishes, and he’s also secured a spot in the final four in the playoffs.
“In the final three races last season, we saw a confidence in Chase that we hadn’t seen before,” SHR co-owner Tony Stewart said. “There was a transformation, and I think those three races last year were a preview of what we were going to see this year. He’s delivered time and time again this season, and he’s definitely ready for the NASCAR Cup Series.”
No, this one isn’t so much a driver swap as it is a team name announcement, but it’s still an exciting one. We reported a few weeks ago that Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan will be joining up to field a new NASCAR team whose car will be driven by Bubba Wallace. Details were sparse at the time, but now they’ve finally named the team: 23XI Racing.
(Just so we’re all on the same page, that’s pronounced “twenty-three eleven.”)
While I’m not a massive fan of combining numbers and Roman numerals, the name has significance in that it blends Jordan’s number as a six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls as well as Denny Hamlin’s longtime Cup Series number.
The team has also announced its car number: No. 23. That number has popped in and out of NASCAR lineups since 1949, but it hasn’t been on the field for two years. There is also no word yet as to which manufacturer the team will be aligned with.