By: Ashley McCubbin
Every NASCAR Silly Season results in several drivers finding new rides for the upcoming campaign, with a couple others either retiring or left on the outside looking in. The 2021 version was no different, with drivers moving forward to other ventures and many switching seats.
So as we have done in past years, allow us to break down the changes for you, once again for the second time in 2021.
A curveball was thrown by Big Machine Records – yes, the label responsible for Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, and others – owned by Scott Borchetta has formed an Xfinity Series team that will debut in 2021. Jade Buford will be behind the wheel after running the four road course events last year for SS Green Light Racing with a best finish of eighth at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.
Santino Ferrucci is making the switch from open-wheel competition to full body stock cars, running a partial schedule for Sam Hunt Racing, focusing on intermediate tracks. While new to Xfinity, SHR has been competing in the ARCA Menards East Series for the past six seasons, scoring six top-10’s in 2019 with Colin Garrett. Ferrucci, meanwhile, comes off an NTT IndyCar Series season where he picked up five top-10’s, including a fourth in the Indianapolis 500, for Dale Coyne Racing.
Brandon Gdovic is also signed with SHR, set for limited schedule that focuses primarily on oval tracks, including the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Their alignment is no surprise, as they were teammates in 2012 at Precision Performance Motorsports. Over the past five years, the Virginian has made 10 Xfinity Series starts with a career-best 12th last year in the Indianapolis Grand Prix.
The road courses, meanwhile, will fall in the hands of Kris Wright as he will be running all seven of those events. The opportunity comes following three top-10’s in six ARCA Menards Racing Series starts, and alongside a full schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Young Motorsports.
Miguel Paludo makes his return to NASCAR competition, set to run three road course events for JR Motorsports behind the wheel of the No. 8. He previously competed full-time in the Truck Series, with his last season coming in 2013 with four top-five’s and 11 top-10 finishes. He should be competitive, though, considering he has four championships, 16 wins and 53 podiums in Porsche Carrera Cup Brasil competition.
The No. 8’s schedule is close to solidified with Dale Earnhardt Jr. set for a single start, Josh Berry running 12 events, and now three races for Paludo equals 16 – and that does not equate for the unknown number for Sam Mayer.
Ryan Sieg will once again be driving for his family’s team in RSS Racing, but with a new manufacture on the car as he switches from Chevrolet to Ford. The switch comes as a shock, following a break-out campaign that saw the underdog have a break-out campaign with his best season to date – seven top-five’s and 11 top-10’s.
B.J. McLeod Motorsports continues to confirm their line-up, with Vinnie Miller returning for three races, along with Stefan Parsons, Ryan Ellis, and Mason Massey. They will be joined with the previously announced Jesse Little and Matt Mills.
Our Motorsports also made an additional announcement, confirming Blaine Perkins for a minimum of six events in 2021. In ARCA Menards West competition last year, he scored three wins and eight top-five’s en route to a runner-up in points. With only Tyler Reddick as the only other announced driver (confirmed for Daytona and a possible partial schedule with his Cup Series commitments), there are still plenty of holes left to fill. As previously discussed, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Patrick Emerling is slated for a possible select number of events after running Bristol Motor Speedway in 2020.