Last year was punctuated by the “Big 3” in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the season. Well that is until the most important point of the schedule when Joey Logano won the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale to take the championship.
This season the narrative has shifted to the Xfinity Series where Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer are ruling the roost. The trip have combined to win ten of the first 14 races of the season and a whopping 1,643 laps with Bell pacing the field for 186 of 200 laps in his Iowa win last Sunday.
Bell and Reddick are in their third full seasons in NASCAR‘s number two division while Custer is in year four. Reddick is the defending series champion. There‘s nothing left for any of the three to prove in the Xfinity Series and are appear more than capable to move to Cup in 2020.
But that‘s where things get sticky.
There is not a clear cut path to NASCAR‘s top tier for any of the talented drivers as of right now. With seats at a premium, at least of the competitive variety, some significant movement will need to happen for the talented trio to be in Daytona next February trying to make the 500.
Bell is property of Toyota and the manufacturer does not intend to let the uber-talented driver slip away. But Joe Gibbs Racing is at max capacity with its quartet of Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones, who reported at Michigan a contract extension was in work. That would leave Leavine Family Racing, which entered into a satellite arrangement with JGR this year and driver Matt DiBenedetto to perhaps expand to a two car operation. But as of now that appears unlikely.
Reddick has outperformed his Richard Childress Racing Cup counterparts on the Xfinity Series side this year. Team owner Richard Childress would have the option of adding a third car to his stable next season alongside Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric but the Hall of Famer has made it clear sponsorship has to be in place before such an expansion.
Custer faces a similar dilemma at Stewart-Haas Racing with four seats currently occupied at the Cup level. Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola appear set while Daniel Suarez is working on a contract extension. There is some speculation around Clint Bowyer‘s future with the team but as of now no clear cut indication he‘ll vacate the seat he inherited from the retired Tony Stewart.
Whether they like it or not, there‘s more than an outside shot the trio could stay right where they are for the 2020 Xfinity Series season. Selfishly that wouldn‘t be the worst thing to happen at least from a series spectator standpoint given the competition between the three this year.
Racing on Sundays is the goal of every NASCAR driver. But for now this group will have to settle for the first day of the weekend.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.