Last week, I guided you through my 2020 Cup series predictions. This week, my take on how the top teams will fare in the truck and Xfinity divisions.
In the Xfinity series:
• Stewart-Haas Racing: Chase Briscoe is a NASCAR superstar in the making. He will win multiple races and make the final four.
• JR Motorsports: This will be a typical year for Justin Allgaier, who will win races but again fall just short of winning the championship. Noah Gragson and Michael Annett will both have some strong runs, but will fall short of success more often than not. The breakout driver on this team will be Daniel Hemric, who will drive the No. 8 on a part-time basis. He will win his first race this season, and position himself to pick up a top Cup ride for 2021.
• Richard Childress Racing: Myatt Snyder, Anthony Alfredo and Kaz Grala will all compete part-time for this team and fail to make an impression.
• Kaulig Racing: Ross Chastain gave this team its first Xfinity win last season. He will join the team full-time this year and will carry the team into the final four. Justin Haley could also win his first race this year. AJ Allmendinger will run a limited number of races in a third car and should shine on the road courses.
• Joe Gibbs Racing: Brandon Jones will be the veteran on this team, and although he could win another race he will clearly be outperformed by rookie teammates Riley Herbst and Harrison Burton. Herbst will win his first race this year. While Burton will have some strong runs, it will be evident he should’ve spent another year in the truck series before stepping up to Xfinity.
• Team Penske: Austin Cindrick will parlay the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship into a top Cup ride for the 2021 season.
In the truck series:
• Hattori Racing: Austin Hill’s strong 2019 will not continue this season. He could win a race, but otherwise will be a forgotten competitor this year. The team will be aligned with the new McAnally-Hilgemann Racing team, which will field rookie Derek Kraus, who I expect will have some strong runs.
• GMS Racing: Brett Moffitt will clearly be the team leader on a squad which will also feature young drivers Sheldon Creed, Tyler Ankrum and Zane Smith. While each driver will at least contend for wins, Moffitt will win multiple races and mount a serious challenge for the championship. Teenager Sam Mayer and World of Outlaws driver David Gravel will run part-time for this team and could each steal headlines. I’ll be particularly interested to see how Gravel performs as he’s being highly touted by Jeff Gordon.
• Kyle Busch Motorsports: This team will feature two rookies who should shine, Canadian Raphael Lessard and ARCA champion Christian Eckes. I’m predicting Eckes will win at least one race and be eyed by Toyota for a rapid movement through NASCAR’s top ranks.
• Thorsport Racing: Johnny Sauter will emerge from a disappointing 2019 season to pick up his second championship in 2020. Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes will all challenge for victories and remain in championship contention throughout the playoffs.
• DGR Crosley: This team switches from Toyota to Ford, which I suspect will cause a setback in performance. Tanner Gray, a former NHRA Pro Stock champion, will run for Rookie of the Year Honors with this team and could struggle. The team will be aligned with Front Row Racing’s new truck team, to be driven by Todd Gilliland. All I can write about that combination is that a back marker Cup team will be fielding a truck for a driver who has thus far failed to live up to expectations.
• Niece Motorsports: Touted rookie Ty Majeski will race full-time for this team, which mounted a surprising challenge for the championship last season with Ross Chastain. Majeski will at least challenge for his first win. Chastain will run part-time for this team and should continue to shine. Natalie Decker will run part-time for this team and will continue her trend of finding new ways to crash every time she takes to the track.
• Halmar Racing: This team’s switch from Chevy to Toyota won’t slow Stewart Friesen down. In fact, it will speed him up. Friesen will win several races and again make the final four.