NASCAR’S SILLIEST SEASON?

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Dalton Janousek

 The 2020 NASCAR season has been anything but normal, from schedule changes due to covid-19 and famous legends stepping down. Maybe some of the biggest changes of the year are the unknowns for next year. NASCAR always goes through silly seasons either when Infamous drivers switch to different teams or even step down. One of the last biggest silly Seasons NASCAR witnessed arguably was back in 2015 when 4-time champion Jeff Gordon announced he would step down from the famous 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. But now, as the 2020 season comes to an end within four weeks, the 2021 season is looking ever so iconic. The biggest mover to set everything off happened back in April of 2020 when Kyle Larson, driver of the 42 Credit One Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, was fired after using racial slurs on an online racing platform. The event, which was being live-streamed at the time, jumped to social media quickly after the occurrence. Chip Ganassi released a statement. “After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson,” according to the team’s statement.

 

“As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take.“

 

Arguably the next surprise was when the driver of the 48 Ally Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson announced his plan to retire at the end of the 2020 season. Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR champion, announced that he wanted to move on to different things in his life. Johnson later announced in the 2020 season that he would run part-time in the Verizon Indycar series next year. Jimmie Johnson has been at the top end of the bad luck charts lately. With his last win back in 2017 at the Dover International Speedway.

 

 The next event to take place in the 2020 season was when the fight for social and racial equality took over in NASCAR. With the only black driver on the current roster, Bubba Wallace took to social media after the events of George Floyd’s death saying, “I would like to see the Confederate flag be banned at all sporting events.” After seeing the tweet on Twitter, NASCAR announced the next day that the Confederate flag would be banned at all NASCAR sanctioned events. This announcement caused an uproar throughout the racing community on social media and positive and negative ways. Just a few weeks later at Talladega Superspeedway, garage personnel reported a noose-like rope hanging in the stall of Bubba Wallace’s garage. NASCAR immediately took to action by contacting the FBI to start an investigation. Later in the investigation, NASCAR and the FBI concluded that the Rope was already tied like that before the racing events at Talladega. After all the outpour and support from fellow drivers and the racing community, sponsors were starting to show up at the doorstep of Richard Petty Motorsports and the 43 STP Chevrolet. But what people didn’t see in the background was a relationship starting to build with fellow driver Denny Hamlin, driver of the number 11 FedEx Toyota, and former NBA legend Michael Jordan. In September Denny Hamlin, Michael Jordan, and Bubba Wallace released a statement saying that Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan would have joined forces in the 2021 season to be team owners. They then announced that Bubba Wallace would be the driver for the team. This would leave the number 43 Chevrolet open at Richard Petty Motorsports. But Darrell Wallace Jr was not the only driver to step away from his team. In early October, Clint Bowyer, driver of the number 14  Peak Ford,  announced his plans for retirement from the racetrack and joining the Fox broadcast booth. Boyer, a Kansas native said in a press release. “This is the ultimate time, as I saw the weeks go by, the future seemed to be more clear, and I knew it was time. I didn’t want to step away completely but, I knew the opportunity at Fox was there, and I wanted to take it.” Boyer has been with Stewart-Haas Racing since 2017 when former NASCAR legend, Tony Stewart retired.

Image from Sportnaut