As part of their hit song “September,” Earth, Wind & Fire sang “Do you remember, 21st night of September?” as the first verse.
When the clock struck midnight on September 21, 2020 there were a lot of people saying “Hell yeah, we’ll remember” after two big Silly Season announcements were made on the same day. With the announcements, two drivers and teams revealed their plans for 2021.
Early in the day, Chip Ganassi Racing announced Ross Chastain will drive the team’s No. 42 Chevrolet full time next year. Matt Kenseth has been the wheelman since Kyle Larson was suspended by NASCAR and fired by CGR after uttering a racial slur in an online race during the COVID shut down.
Chastain did have a full-time Xfinity ride with CGR a few years ago and has been a development driver with them since 2018. He lost the full-time opportunity when the sponsor ran into legal and financial problems. Known as “Melon Man” because of his family’s watermelon business, Chastain has been racing for – and winning – with Kaulig Racing this year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He is also Playoff contender for the series championship.
In a statement from Chip Ganassi, he said of Chastain, “Ross has been a part of this organization for a few years now and I am happy to announce him as our driver for the No. 42 team. In three races with our organization in 2018, and watching ever since, he showed me and everyone he’s a tenacious driver who wants to win.”
His new teammate, Kurt Busch, also threw his support to Chastain via Twitter welcoming him to CGR.
Later that evening, the question of where Bubba Wallace was going to race next year became public knowledge. After announcing he was parting ways with Richard Petty Motorsports a few weeks ago, where Wallace would end up brought a lot of speculation.
Talk around town had Denny Hamlin forming a team with Michael Jordan and IF that happened, would Wallace be their pick to drive.
Well, the talk was true with Jordan buying the charter from Germain Racing, who announced a few weeks ago they were closing the team and selling, and Wallace as their driver. With the NBA Hall of Famer Jordan as the principal owner, it was also announced current Joe Gibbs Racing driver and Cup Playoff contender Hamlin would be a minority owner
In a statement, Hamlin announced he and Jordan would be fielding the single-car team next year and why Wallace is going the driver.
“Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series, and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level,” Hamlin said. “He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins, and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that.”
Of course, Hamlin added he’s focused on winning a championship this year with his No. 11 Toyota team at JGR.
Okay, there are two pieces of the Silly Season puzzle now in place. Remaining are the open seats of the No. 48 of Hendrick Motorsports, the No. 32 of Go Fas Racing, the No. 43 of RPM and the No. 96 of Gaunt Bros Racing.
Some drivers who already announced they are parting ways with their current teams after Phoenix and still without a ride are; Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie and Daniel Suarez. So, the question is…who goes where? Does a team bring up a NXS driver to Cup? Does someone get left out when the musical race cars stop?
It all does seem kind of odd for this to be taking place during the Playoffs adding an almost race-within-a-race atmosphere. But, then again, it’s called Silly Season for a very good reason. Stay tuned.