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.
The first edition published did not have a crew chief yet for Noah Gragson, but that has changed with Luke Lambert being named for the role earlier this month. The veteran brings NASCAR Cup Series experience to JR Motorsports after spending last season with Roush Fenway Racing, and having led Ryan Newman to a Championship 4 appearance in 2014.
The senior leadership may be what is needed to get the most out of Gragson. His aggressive nature has not been kept a secret, and it has come back to bite him at times. Perhaps Lambert can find the balance that is necessary to make the No. 9 a bigger contender for the title.
JR Motorsports also revealed Miguel Paludo will once again join the team for the road course events after scoring a season-best seventh on the Daytona road course. He is known for his abilities in other forms of motorsports, and scored eight top-five’s during his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series tenure.
Sheldon Creed also knows whom his teammate will be at Richard Childress Racing, with fellow past Truck Series competitor Austin Hill joining him. Hill has been impressive the past couple seasons with Hattori Racing Enterprises, scoring multiple victories and putting himself into the championship conversation repeatedly. Just as we see with Creed, this is a natural progression that should produce results.
Although the news coming out that a NASCAR Xfinity Series ride for Team Penske is disappointing after their dominance through the years, there is some hope for Ford fans as SS Green Light Racing joins the party. It may be the boost that Joe Graf Jr. needs to put his team in the spotlight, as certainly the technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing to boost them to top-15 contention, if not better.
The team will also get solid feedback with Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe set to spend time in a second entry, running four races and a single event respectively. Both were solid contenders for championships during their foray in the series, which propelled them to the premiere series. So certainly having someone whose recently been involved and knows the ingredients to succeed can’t be a bad thing.
Ryan Truex’s persistence in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series including some stellar runs has paid off, as he will be running multiple Xfinity Series races in 2022 with Sam Hunt Racing. One of the youngest owners in the garage, the team made a statement with success in their first year of competition, including top-10 runs by John Hunter Nemechek.
Alpha Prime Racing is already making headlines, and maybe not for the right reasons as Andy Lally was signed for six road course events, only to be released from his contract two months later. Tommy Joe Martins, whom owns the newly formed organization with Caesar Bacarella, still remains on the driver card alongside Ryan Ellis.
There is one thing certain, though, as the second car will have a full-time driver with Sage Karam behind the wheel. The NTT IndyCar Series competitor made his Xfinity debut in 2021, making four starts for a best result of 16th at Bristol. With having proven his diversity in talent via success in Nitro Rallycross, he could be an underdog to watch on the road courses as the team builds their oval program.
DGM Racing is mixing things up for 2022, signing Mason Massey for the majority of the events. He enters with 23 races of experience under his belt, including a trio of top-20 finishes with B.J. McLeod Motorsports.
Josh Williams, who was able to score 17 top-10 finishes with DGM in 2021, will shift over to B.J. McLeod Motorsports for next season as he hopes to carry them to the next level.
Nick Sanchez was seen testing at New Smyrna Raceway, as he will get to run several races in 2022 for BJ McLeod Motorsports. Sanchez has proven himself in ARCA Menards Series conversation, steadily running inside the top-five on a weekly basis with a trip to victory lane.
Jesse Iwuji has made his mark by going racing after serving his company, and will hope to leave his own impact on the sport in starting his own team for 2022. Whether or not he is able to find success will be interesting. After all, we’ve seen other drivers only to find themselves outside of the top-20 on a weekly basis. He has only able to score a best finish of 23rd in five series starts.
RSS Racing will have a pair of cars once again, with Parker Retzlaff running a minimum of 10 races following success on the iRacing platform. Recall, this is the team that became a favorite underdog for everyone to route for when Ryan Sieg put them in the playoffs with steady consistency on a weekly basis. It will be interesting to see how Retzlaff adapts with good equipment underneath him.