MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — There are two other championship races taking place this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, besides the big Cup Series finale on Sunday afternoon.
On Friday night, the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series crowns their 2019 champion, while the NASCAR Xfinity Series will crown theirs on Saturday night.
For all twelve championship drivers, their plans are pretty much set for 2020. All four NASCAR Cup Series drivers will return to their selective rides next year.
Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, NXS) and Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, NXS) have been confirmed for Cup already, while Justin Allgaier will remain at JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series in the No. 7 Chevrolet.
Only Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, NXS) has not been 100% confirmed, but a report by Motorsport.com landed him in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the Cup Series next season in 2020.
(EDIT: On Friday morning, Cole Custer was officially announced as the driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in 2020 in the Cup Series.)
On the truck side, Ross Chastain moves up to Xfinity with Kaulig Racing into the No. 10 Chevy, while his three competitors will remain truckin’ in 2020, although nothing is confirmed officially for Stewart Friesen, who hopes to be back in trucks, most likely in the No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet.
Brett Moffitt will return to drive the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevy, while Matt Crafton says he’s going truck racing for as long as he physically can with Thorsport Racing (No. 88 Ford), hoping to catch Ron Hornaday in championships one day.
On Thursday afternoon, I asked each driver who won’t be Cup racing in 2020 what a championship would mean to their future careers, or what it would mean for their legacy during the media rounds.
Here is what each driver said:
BRETT MOFFITT, No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet, NGOTS: “I’ve said all along, I don’t want to be in mid-pack equipment, or back-of-the-pack equipment just to be a Cup of Xfinity driver. I want to be in positions to win.
“I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve lost my love for racing doing that. I just have to take this as a chance to win, and continue on with it.
“Maury Gallagher and the Gallagher family gave me a great opportunity here, but for me, it’s just building a resume. You’re never going to make a huge living truck racing in this day and age or anything like that.
“It’s just building a resume to hopefully appeal to a cup team one day down the road where you can go back to racing on Sundays and be in winning equipment and win championships in that series.”
ROSS CHASTAIN, No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet, NGOTS: “I honestly don’t know. You see guys win championships and lose their rides. You see some guys win and it’s the last thing that you hear about. I don’t know, you’re only as good as your last race. You have to keep preparing.
“I mean, it’s not going to hurt, but honestly, in my experience, on the Cup side, a lot of team owners don’t really see the trucks. They don’t watch the races, I mean, just in my experience. When I talk about what I’ve done, they’re like ‘oh, really,’ or they say ‘oh, well that’s trucks,’ it’s like, I don’t know.
“Honestly, I don’t know how much it helps. I mean, it can’t hurt, but I think you have to keep proving and keep winning to make it all work.”
MATT CRAFTON, No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford, NGOTS: “At the end of the day, what I look at it is going one step closer to the greatest Truck Series driver there was, Ron Hornaday. I firmly believe that.
“I said it earlier to somebody, it’s like Jimmie (Johnson) chasing Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for championships. If I could at least be able to go tie, if I won this year, I’d be one shy of getting to Ron Hornaday.
“If I could go there and have four championships at some point in my career, to say I was tied with Ron Hornaday, I think that be alright.”
STEWART FRIESEN, No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet, NGOTS: “It’s big, you know? It kind of culminates a lot of hard work. A lot of people have been behind me, behind my career, and I think that would be the most special part. To win the championship for all the car owners that gave me breaks over the years and supported me.
“Obviously, my boss now, Chris Larsen… it would be so special, for everything he puts into this race team, and the tools that he gives us to go out there and execute, to win a trophy for him.”
JUSTIN ALLGAIER, No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, NXS: “I don’t know that it does anything for my future. As odd as that may sound, for me, I tell you, I love where I’m at.
“I’m in a great place, I love everybody at JR Motorsports. It’s a fantastic organization. There’s nothing more that I want than to give Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) and Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller) and Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and everybody at our organization a championship.
“I’m happy where I’m at.”
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