New faces are joining the NASCAR Cup Series in 2020. Four rookies, specifically.
Last season’s “Big 3” in the Xfinity Series have all made the jump to NASCAR’s premier league after a season full of success. Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Christopher Bell finished atop the 2019 Xfinity Series standings in order and now face the challenge of climbing their way back up the ranks. John Hunter Nemechek, who closed out last year seventh, is also moving to the Cup Series with his fellow competitors.
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WAACK: It’s going to be Tyler Reddick, the two-time Xfinity Series champion. No doubt. Reddick is the only rookie entering the Cup Series with such a title, which means he knows how to survive and thrive under the current NASCAR Playoffs format.
Speaking of surviving, Reddick had the fewest DNFs in 2019 out of the incoming newcomers. Reddick had three. Cole Custer and Christopher Bell (with an additional disqualification) had four, while John Hunter Nemechek had five. Doesn’t matter the reasoning or how tight the margin is among them. When it comes to fresh meat in the Cup Series, the key is finishing races. Every one counts.
It also helps Reddick boasted the best average finish among his full-time competition with a 6.3 mark. Custer was further down the list with an average 9.0 finish, Bell had a 9.1, and Nemechek was a 12.5. Reddick had the most top fives (24) and top 10s (27), too.
Then, on top of all that, Reddick already has pulled off a top-10 run (Kansas Speedway in 2019) in the Cup Series. The others can’t say that. This could bring him the confidence he needs to feel comfortable in his new equipment early on.
Reddick is going to get the most he can out of the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
WEAVER: I have my eye on Cole Custer to have the most success out of the rookies in the NASCAR Cup Series. Custer was a member of the “Big 3” for the Xfinity Series who, in my opinion, was overlooked in comparison to Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell. But the soon-to-be 22-year-old had seven wins in 2019, only one less than Bell and one more than Reddick. Last season, Custer won at Auto Club Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Pocono Raceway, Chicagoland Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Darlington Raceway and Dover International Speedway. He had six poles, 24 top-10 finishes and 17 top fives. He came into his own this last season, and now the pressure doesn’t seem to affect him on the track.
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It also helps that Custer will take on his rookie season with Stewart-Haas Racing. He is entering the NASCAR Cup Series with some of the top equipment in the sport and the same crew chief and crew who propelled him to the Championship 4 for the Xfinity Series. Plus, with a mentor like Kevin Harvick, Mike Shiplett’s notebook joined with Rodney Childers and watching what the other veterans will do in that camp, will only improve Custer’s own driving ability.
SHR plans on using resources and effort to make Custer a winning driver in the sport’s top series. The young talent banner for that organization has Custer’s name in bold print. I have personally watched Custer become a different type of driver over the last few years: He is more aggressive, takes chances and will have a successful rookie season in that No. 41 machine.