Each year when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series invades Daytona International Speedway in February to begin the new season, the one thing for certain is that you may need to buy a program to figure who is driving what car.
Owners and sponsors no longer have the patience to stick with a driver and give him a few years into developing into someone capable of winning races and championships.
Drivers now have a very small window when they get a ride to show what they are capable of doing as the crop of young and talented drivers in the Xfinity Series and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series has become a pipeline to the Cup Series.
Owners now have many of these young drivers under contract and have farmed them out to other owners in the Xfinity and Truck Series until one of their Cup rides become open.
The problem with farming out young talent to other owners in the two series is once they have established themselves and is being looked upon as a driver capable of winning at the highest level that it attracts the attention of every owner in the Cup Series.
That is what has been taking place in recent seasons as owners have had to make room for them in their Cup stable of teams or risk seeing the driver take his talent to another organization.
It is the way the series now does business and unless you are one of the established drivers that frequent victory lane and are a fixture in the playoffs, you may find yourself looking for a new ride at season’s end. Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric has become the latest victim of the youth movement as he was told several weeks ago that he would be let go at the end of the season.
This is Hemric’s third season with RCR and his first at the Cup level after spending the first two years driving for Childress in the Xfinity Series.
Childress will be replacing one rookie with another for the 2020 season as he already announced that Tyler Reddick who has been highly successful in the Xfinity Series will become the driver of his No. 8 Chevrolet.
Hemric is yet to find a ride for next season but he has been linked to potential openings at both JTG Daugherty Racing and Front Row Motosports.
Matt DiBenedetto driver of the Leavine Family Racing Toyota found himself in the same situation as Hemric as he was also informed that he would not be back for the 2020 season.
His stats for the season especially with a one-car organization would more than support him returning but it came down to Toyota needing a seat for Christopher Bell who is one of the up and coming stars that now drives in the Xfinity Series.
Bell’s move up to the Cup level comes as no surprise as at one point in the season he was being rumored to be taking over Erik Jones’ ride at Joe Gibbs Racing for next season.
It didn’t take long for the very popular Dibenedetto to find a seat for next season as he will take over the fabled Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford that became open when Paul Menard announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season.
It’s one of the best rides in the sport as the Wood Brothers have a working relationship with Penske Racing and gets its engines from Roush-Yates.
You have to get the feeling that driving in this series can have somewhat of a musical chair feel to it and that there are still a few more “chairs” that will see some change before the haulers doors are closed of the trip to Daytona in February. It’s nothing new, it happens every season and when a driver gets in this series he knows that this is what awaits him.
Steve Mickey writes about NASCAR for HD Media.