Commentary

TRACKING THE CHANGES: NASCAR Xfinity Series

By: Ashley McCubbin

The theme of each NASCAR Silly Season is figuring out what the changes will be, so that way you can find the ride that your favourite driver(s) is(are) behind the wheel of. It’s why News From The Pits is here to help you sort through it all.

JR Motorsports will be the home of familiar faces in 2022, but some of them will be securing some new roles. Sam Mayer and Josh Berry will each transition to full-time status, as Michael Annett steps away from racing full-time.

Mayer made the move to JRM in 2021 after winning the ARCA Menards Series East title in 2020 to run a partial schedule, gaining experience with one top-five and six top-10’s. The young racer found himself at the wrong-end of run-ins at times, and bent fenders as he continued to learn the next step of motorsports. Just another rookie learning curve, ladies and gentleman.

Berry, meanwhile, made the most of a limited opportunity after success in Late Models via scoring a victory at Martinsville Speedway. With the world’s attention on him accomplishing the American dream, sponsorship money will allow the long awaited full-time schedule to come together. Expect him to make the playoffs after scoring 22 top-10’s in 2021, and possibly contend for the championship.

Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson will also both return full-time, but notably Gragson will have a new crew chief with Dave Elenz heading to the NASCAR Cup Series. Ensuring the young driver has a good person on top of the helm will be important, given his aggressive, all out-there nature as the right harness will allow him to contend for a title.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will also make his yearly appearance behind the wheel of the No. 88, but no further details have been announced for the fifth car. Let’s face it- they’re going to be busy enough.

Sheldon Creed is finally seeing the benefits of being a champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pay off, as he gets to move up to the Xfinity Series with Richard Childress Racing. Consistently a threat to win each week with GMS Racing last season, expect Creed to be right alongside the aggressive strengths in Xfinity battling for victories.

Myatt Snider, who drove that car to victory lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will drive the No. 31 for Jordan Anderson Racing in 2022. A pair of top-five’s and six top-10’s in their first year with seven different drivers aboard proves the potential that is there for the future. Can Snider deliver, though? He has yet to have a stand-out performance since beginning in the sport.

Taking advantage of opportunities will see Bayley Currey land his feet in 2022 with a full-time opportunity for JD Motorsports with Gary Keller. With only one top-10 to his name thus far in his career, an improvement in equipment should allow him to regularly challenge in the teens.

Landon Cassill, who put JD Motorsports on the map, will hope to make a name for himself in some pretty strong equipment as he heads to Kaulig Racing. With only 14 top-10’s to his name to date, this is the best opportunity he has been given in NASCAR. It hasn’t been without hard work as he has been one to fight for opportunities within the sport constantly. Now it’s time to put up or shut up, because if he cannot perform here, then the dreams may be done.

He is jumping behind the wheel of the No. 10 previously piloted by Jeb Burton to 16 top-10’s including a victory. Burton will remain in the series, signing a two-year with Our MotorsportsThe organization made a splash onto the racing scene last year in scoring 10 top-10’s with Brett Moffitt behind the wheel. Burton’s talent, combined with knowledge from time with JR Motorsports and Kaulig Racing, could be exactly what they need to go to the next level.

Speaking of Brett Moffitt, he will remain with the organization for the 2022 campaign.

Patrick Emerling, who made his debut last season and has scored a best finish of 24th in four starts, is ready to make his stamp on the series in forming Emerling-Gase Motorsports with Joey Gase. While a new face for Xfinity Series, Emerling has proven his steady growth behind the wheel as evident by coming off a break-out campaign in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Modified Tour with a runner-up points finish and a trio of wins. It will be interesting to see how the team starts off, and where they go as the year goes on.

Circling back around to Kaulig Racing, they also have another new driver in house with Justin Hayley set to drive their Cup Series entry full-time. After capturing the world’s attention with a thrilling first career victory to capture the championship, Daniel Hemric will take his talents to Joe Gibbs Racing. Given his ability to run up front through each of the past seasons and the monkey now being off of his back, the question may not be if there’s another trophy to collect, but how many? After all, he’s going to the team known for #TrophyHunting.

Although not confirmed yet, it is likely Ty Gibbs will be the replacement at JGR. After all, he is the boss Joe Gibbs’ grandson, and he was your 2021 ARCA Menards Series Champion. There’s also the fact that despite being a rookie, he scored four wins and 10 top-10’s in 18 starts. He’s not even announced yet for the year, and his name can be spotted on the early championship picks for many fans.

Our Motorsports will expand to three-cars with Anthony Alfredo behind the wheel of a the third-entry. ‘Fast Pasta’ brings a season worth Cup Series experience to the equation as the team hunts for the secret to run inside the top-five. Returning back up front should be a priority for Alfredo, as he only scored a single top-10 in 2021. While many fans write him off for that reason, he scored a pair of top-five’s and nine top-10’s in 19 starts with RCR in Xfinity the year before.

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