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The Names Every NASCAR Fan Needs to Know

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

New fans who recently watched NASCAR Full Speed on Netflix found out a few of the characters involved in modern NASCAR. However, if you tune in to a NASCAR Cup Series race on a Sunday afternoon or follow NASCAR news on social media, there are plenty of other names that will pop up who went unmentioned in the Netflix Docuseries. These are some of the names that fans need to know in modern NASCAR.

  • For this list, we will focus on those who were not mentioned or mentioned with little context in the Netflix docuseries. The goal is to make new NASCAR fans well-informed about the characters they will see throughout the season.
  • We will separate these names into 4 different categories. These include NASCAR executives, race teams, other dignitaries, and drivers.
  • When longtime NASCAR fans hear these names, they know immediately what they refer to. However, newer NASCAR fans may not know who these are.

NASCAR Executives

These people work high up in NASCAR’s executive corporate ladder. These are the people involved in making big decisions surrounding NASCAR as a whole, and they often are at the forefront of big NASCAR initiatives

President: Steve Phelps

Steve Phelps serves as NASCAR’s President, and he is often seen as the business face of the sport. Whenever NASCAR makes major changes such as signing the new media rights deal or releasing the schedule, Phelps is often the one in the media showing his face and taking questions from the media. He has worked with NASCAR since 2005, and he was appointed President of the sport in 2018.

Chief Operating Officer: Steve O’Donnell

While Phelps focuses more on the business side of the sport, O’Donnell focuses more on the competition side of the sport. He’s responsible for things like the Next-Gen car, rules package changes, working to bring new technologies into the sport. He works very closely with other NASCAR executives such as Ben Kennedy and Scott Miller on the competition, so, those are two names fans may hear often as well. O’Donnell assumed this role in 2022.

CEO: Jim France

While Phelps and O’Donnell are often the ones who speak publicly, Jim France is the ultimate authority as the sports’ CEO. France is the son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., and Jim took over the role as NASCAR CEO in 2018. NASCAR has been owned and operated by the France family since it was founded in 1948, and Jim is the fourth family member to assume the role of NASCAR CEO.

Race Teams

This section will focus on the names of major race teams in the sport. These teams are not out there racing for themselves, rather, they own multiple race cars that all compete for the team. While drivers do compete for their race team and do technically have teammates, only one driver gets the trophy, so, competition within race teams can be as fierce as competition between race teams.

Hendrick Motorsports

Hendrick Motorsports is credited as one of if not the best team in NASCAR and potentially all of motorsports. The team is owned by Rick Hendrick, who made his fortune in the auto industry with a network of car dealerships under the Hendrick Automotive Group banner. Plenty of great drivers have raced for the team, and current drivers are William Byron in the #24 and 2021 Champion Kyle Larson in the #5, both from the Netflix docuseries, alongside Chase Elliott in the #9 and Alex Bowman in the #48.

Joe Gibbs Racing

Joe Gibbs Racing is also one of the top teams in NASCAR, and they carry the banner for Toyota in the sport. The team is owned by NFL Hall of Fame Head Coach Joe Gibbs, who won 3 Super Bowls as the head coach of the Washington Commanders (then known as the Redskins). The team’s drivers are Christopher Bell in the #20, Denny Hamlin in the #11, Martin Truex Jr. in the #19, and Ty Gibbs in the #54. JGR also has a technical alliance with 23XI Racing, which Hamlin co-owns alongside Michael Jordan.

Trackhouse Racing

While teams like Hendrick and Gibbs have been in the sport for decades, Trackhouse is the new kid on the block. The team is co-owned by former driver Justin Marks and rapper Pitbull. The two drivers for the team are Ross Chastain in the #1, featured in the Netflix docuseries, and Daniel Suarez in the #99, who is the only Cup Series driver from Mexico. Trackhouse is one of the Cup Series’ youngest teams, joining the series in 2021.

Team Penske

Team Penske is one of the most historic race teams in all of motorsports. Team owner Roger Penske has teams in IndyCar, NASCAR, IMSA, and the FIA World Endurance Championship, and he owns the entire IndyCar Series alongside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As for his NASCAR team, 2023 Champion Ryan Blaney returns in the #12 alongside 2-time Champion Joey Logano in the #22 and Austin Cindric in the #2.

Richard Childress Racing

While Hendrick (founded 1984) and Gibbs (Founded 1992) have each been around NASCAR for a while, Richard Childress Racing has been involved in NASCAR since the late 1960s. Team owner Richard Childress raced in the Cup Series as an independent owner-driver throughout the 1970s before becoming solely a team owner in 1982. The current driver lineup is 2-time Cup Series Champion, Kyle Busch, and Austin Dillon, Childress’ grandson.

RFK Racing

Roush-Fenway-Keselowski Racing, or RFK Racing for short, has gone through many iterations during its’ time in NASCAR. Jack Roush started the team as Roush Racing in 1988, then John Henry of Fenway Sports Group joined the team in 2007. Driver Brad Keselowski bought into the team in 2022, and he drives the #6 with teammate Chris Buescher driving the #17.

Other Dignitaries

These individuals are involved in different race teams at high levels, and they will be mentioned throughout the season. Each of these individuals is either a former or part-time racer who is still heavily involved with the sport.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon serves as the Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports. As a driver, he won 4 Championships and 93 races for Hendrick in the #24 car. While driving for the team, he became heavily involved with the business side by co-owning the #48 car alongside Hendrick. After retirement, he was a broadcaster for 5 seasons before moving to back Hendrick Motorsports full-time in 2021.

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson is a 7-time Champion and 83-time winner who co-owns the race team Legacy Motor Club. He retired from full-time competition in 2020, and he competed in IndyCar for 2 seasons. In 2024, he will make 9 starts in the #84 car for Legacy Motor Club.

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing alongside Gene Haas. Stewart is a 3-time Cup Series Champion as a driver, including one as an owner-driver for SHR in 2011. He retired from driving in NASCAR full-time in 2016, and he still races in the NHRA with his team Tony Stewart Racing.

Drivers

These drivers are some prominent names that were not featured heavily or at all in the Netflix docuseries. Each of these individuals will get significant TV time on Sundays, and they will be a threat to win week-in and week-out.

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott is NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, and he won the Cup Series Championship in 2020. He is the son of NASCAR legend and 1988 Cup Series Champion, Bill Elliott. Chase struggled in 2023, going winless and missing 7 races. Six of those missed races were due to a broken leg from a skiing accident, and the other race was from a suspension for intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin at Charlotte in May.

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch won the Cup Series Championship in 2015 and 2019, and he won 3 races in 2023 for Richard Childress Racing. 2023 was his first year with RCR after 15 successful seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch previously owned a Truck Series team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, but, that team was sold in the offseason.

Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. is the 2017 Cup Series Champion, and he was the top seed heading into the Playoffs after winning 3 races in the regular season. Many speculate that this may be his last Cup Series season, as he was reportedly mulling retirement throughout the early part of 2023. He’s back for 2024, but it’s only on a one-year contract.

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski won the 2012 Cup Series title, and he joins Denny Hamlin as the two owner-drivers in the field. Keselowski bought into RFK Racing in 2022 after 12 seasons at Team Penske. While he has not won a race since 2021, he finished 8th in the 2023 standings, and many feel he could snap that winless streak this season.

As the 2024 NASCAR season approaches, these are some of the names that new fans should watch out for. Fans will undoubtedly come across these names at some point.

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Joshua Lipowski

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