The Daytona 500 is still three weeks away from the green flag flying.
Silly Season is fully seven to eight months away!
The recent news of Denny Hamlin joining forces with the iconic sports legend Michael Jordon to form a new NASCAR race team in ’21, 23 XI Racing, added to the most recent news from the Hamlin stable that he wants to race more short track races this season. Things may be changing at JGR at the end of this season.
To this observer, it may signal that Hamlin’s days at JGR could be numbered. Hamlin’s contact runs out at the end of this season, from all public record indications.
When the new 23XI Racing began to put out data and plans the floor plan of their new headquarters it appears to be set up for a four car team. There are four distinct offices labeled “crew chief”, and there were show four cars enumerated in the lobby of the building. Those indications lean towards the idea that 23XI Racing has plans to expand past the current one car team. Add to the fact that there will be a next gen car on the horizon beginning in 2022, that year would be a good year to expand to possibly a two car team as a minimum.
Remember that Hamlin’s contract with JGR ends at the end of this season! So it makes sense that Hamlin may be leaning extremely hard towards moving over to his new racing venture, and work on establishing that team as a championship contender.
Now with those assumptions in place, the next question to ask is who will take Hamlin’s position behind the wheel in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing FedEx Toyota Camry?
Looking at the drivers who are in the Toyota pipeline at JGR, those drivers includes Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, and Harrison Burton.
Let’s take an overview of those three drivers.
Daniel Hemric has 170 races in all three series, Trucks, Xfinity, and Cup. In those 170 races Hemric has yet to log a victory. However, he has racked up 46 top 5’s and 83 top 10 finishes in that time frame. Keep in mind that Hemric’s star has risen in the past, from Truck series to the Xfinity series, even one year with RCR in the Cup series, and then back to JGR in the Xfinity series. Now it appears that star to be either stabilized or sinking somewhat as he tries to revitalize his career with JGR.
Looking at Brandon Jones‘ career. Jones has completed in 219 Truck and Xfinity races over the past five years. Of those 219 races, Jones has calked up 5 victories, four of which were in the Xfinity Series with one victory in the Truck Series. Jones has also logged 33 top 5 finishes and 93 top 10’s, as well. The Atlanta native may have found his high water mark in the Xfinity series, whereby he can be a part of the weekly equation. The 2021 season could be a critical time in Jones’ career.
Lastly, looking at second generation driver, Harrison Burton, and his statistics reveals less experience, but better percentages. Even though Burton has competed in just 80 races in the Truck Series and the Xfinity Series, his numbers/percentages appear to be higher. Burton has chalked up 4 wins (all in the NXS), 27 top 5 finishes, and 45 top 10 results.
It would appear by looking at the performance and the numbers, Joe Gibbs has a rising star driving the JGR No. 20 Toyota Camry in the name of young Harrison Burton. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Harrison Burton as the driver who will be replacing Denny Hamlin when he leaves JGR.
If gut feelings have any validity, and that is a post for another time, I am predicting that young Harrison Burton will be promoted into the JGR No 11 FedEx Toyota Camry when Hamlin leaves at the end of this season!
You may think that Billy Joel may have said right:
You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for
Turn out the light
Don’t try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right
Remember that you most likely heard this here first!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!