Editor’s note: Today begins NASCAR.com’s countdown of team previews for the NASCAR Cup Series season, ranked in order of best finish in last year’s owner standings. We’ll kick off with teams that finished outside the top 30 in team owner points in 2019 (listed alphabetically).
Engine: ECR Engines
Driver: Brendan Gaughan
2019 stats: 4 starts, 1 top 10, average finish of 19.2.
Racing Insights Numbers to Know: 12 career starts — all the Superspeedways the last three years with driver Brendan Gaughan. Gaughan has announced that he will run the superspeedways in 2020 but plans to retire from NASCAR after the season. Gaughan finished seventh in the 2017 July Daytona race and eighth in the April 2019 Talladega race for the team.
Outlook: Gaughan said in a December appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he plans to enter the four superspeedway events (both Daytona and Talladega races) in 2020, then retire from NASCAR competition. The 44-year-old driver showed some spark in his four-race stint last year, occasionally mixing it up with the front-runners in the No. 62 Chevrolet and bagging team owner Mark Beard’s second-ever top 10.
GAUNT BROTHERS RACING
Engine: Triad/Toyota Racing Development
Driver: Daniel Suarez
2019 stats: 15 starts, average finish of 26.7.
Racing Insights Numbers to Know: The No. 96 car clocked the fastest lap in all of 2019 at Talladega in October with a 205.803 mph and hopes to build on that speed in 2020.
Outlook: One of the biggest questions throughout much of the offseason remains where Daniel Suarez might land, and Marty Gaunt’s No. 96 was the answer, giving the team a talented and experienced driver. Parker Kligerman entered 14 races for GBR last year, but told NBC Sports he would not return to the team in 2020. Suarez gives the organization a chance to punch above its weight.
Engine: MBM Motorsports
Driver: Timmy Hill
2019 stats: 16 starts, average finish of 35.8.
Racing Insights Numbers to Know: The team has run at least 12 races in each of the last three seasons.
Outlook: Carl Long’s organization competed in a part-time schedule last season, with Joey Gase (10 races) and Timmy Hill (six) splitting time in the No. 66 ride. This year, it appears Hill will do the majority of the driving duties, with Gase moving to Rick Ware Racing for 2020. MBM is reported to be dialing back its Xfinity Series operation to a two-car fleet in order to focus more on the Cup Series this year.
Engine: ECR Engines
Driver: Brennan Poole
2019 stats: 62 starts among six drivers in the Nos. 15 and 27 (Ross Chastain, Quin Houff, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Sieg, Garrett Smithley, Reed Sorenson); one top 10, average finish of 29.5.
Racing Insights Numbers to Know: Brennan Poole is making his Cup debut in the Daytona 500. Both of the team’s top-10 finishes, came in the Daytona 500 (2017 and 2019).
Outlook: Though Premium’s cars fought to find headway against powerhouse competition, the 2019 season did produce a modest gain with the organization’s best average finish since Jay Robinson joined the team owner ranks six years ago. Brennan Poole, who drove part-time in the Gander Trucks tour last year, was tapped in December for his first Cup Series season in Premium’s No. 15 ride. Plans for a potential second car have not yet been announced.
Engine: Hendrick Motorsports
Driver: Ross Chastain, TBA.
2019 stats: 36 starts among eight drivers (Justin Haley, Timmy Hill, Quin Houff, Blake Jones, DJ Kennington, Jamie McMurray, Garrett Smithley, Reed Sorenson); 1 win, average finish of 32.6.
The Action Network Best Bet: Ross Chastain will run two races for Spire Motorsports this season — the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600 — with support from Chip Ganassi Racing. The alliance with CGR will offer significant upside in both of these races, making Chastain a savvy target for NASCAR bettors. — PJ Walsh.
Racing Insights Numbers to Know: Justin Haley won the race at Daytona last July, in his third career start. Ross Chastain will run the Daytona 500 for the team in 2020 in a co-op with Chip Ganassi Racing (Jamie McMurray did the same thing in the 2019 Daytona 500).
Outlook: Spire played strategy to perfection with Justin Haley at Daytona last summer, making it the only team outside the top 30 to visit Victory Lane in 2019. The start-up team is back for year two, expecting to field a chartered car for a rotating cast of drivers — including the always savvy Ross Chastain for at least the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600. A technical alliance with Premium Motorsports remains intact for 2020.
Engine: ECR Engines
Driver: Quin Houff
2019 stats: 36 starts, average finish of 29.3.
Racing Insights Numbers to Know: Enters its third full-time season in 2020 with new driver Quin Houff, who has 27 NASCAR national series starts (10 Xfinity, 17 Cup). Landon Cassill ran the entire 2019 Cup season in the No. 00 and earned the team’s best finish of 11th at Daytona in July.
Outlook: The No. 00 team — managed by veteran Derrike Cope — is back for a third full season but with a change behind the wheel. Quin Houff takes over driving duties with a two-year deal, replacing Landon Cassill. The organization said in November that it intends to honor its commitment to Cassill in 2020, but those plans have not been revealed as Daytona nears.
RICK WARE RACING
Engine: TBA, Roush Yates Engines.
Drivers: Joey Gase, JJ Yeley, David Ragan (Daytona 500 only)
2019 stats: 91 starts among 14 drivers for four teams (Stanton Barrett, Josh Bilicki, Spencer Boyd, Jeb Burton, Bayley Currey, Joey Gase, Gray Gaulding, B.J. McLeod, Andy Seuss, Garrett Smithley, Austin Theriault, Cody Ware, Kyle Weatherman, JJ Yeley); average finish of 32.5.
Racing Insights Numbers to Know: 14 different drivers competed for this team in 2019, most of all teams.
Outlook: No single driver entered more than half of the races for RWR in 2019 (B.J. McLeod topped the list with 18 starts), but this year’s plans include full-time rides for both Gase and Yeley. The continuity should help, and so should the support from Front Row Motorsports for a Daytona 500 one-off with David Ragan driving.
NASCAR.com 2020 team previews schedule
Jan. 20: Teams outside the top 30
Jan. 21: Go Fas Racing
Jan. 22: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 23: Richard Petty Motorsports
Jan. 24: Germain Racing
Jan. 27: Leavine Family Racing
Jan. 28: Richard Childress Racing
Jan. 29: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 30: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 31: Roush Fenway Racing
Feb. 3: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 4: Chip Ganassi Racing
Feb. 5: Team Penske
Feb. 6: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 7: Joe Gibbs Racing