Spotters are a crucial cog in the success or failures for any team. If a spotter makes a mistake, not only do you lose the race, but chances are you also lose a race car. On Friday, we learned, through an update from FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass, that several spotters will be on the move to new assignments for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Here is a breakdown of it all:
No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports
Kyle Larson’s spotter in his return to the NASCAR Cup Series will be Chris Monez. Monez has been climbing his way up the ladder in the NASCAR Cup Series garage for several years. From a part-time effort with TriStar Motorsports to full-time with Ty Dillon at Germain Racing the last few years, Monez now finds himself in the best position of his NASCAR Cup Series spotting career.
No. 7 Spire Motorsports
Corey LaJoie’s multi-year tenure with Spire Motorsports in the No. 7 machine will get kicked off with Geoff Doucette as his eye in the sky. Doucette has been a spotter in the NASCAR Cup Series in recent years with Roush Fenway Racing and will look to guide LaJoie to a successful first season at Spire Motorsports.
No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
This is a weird one as Clayton Hughes has been Martin Truex Jr.’s spotter seemingly forever. Hughes was a spotter with Furniture Row Racing for the entire tenure of the team’s existence and he followed Truex to Joe Gibbs Racing after the team shut down in 2018. After 25 wins and a championship together, the duo is being split up.
Truex’s new spotter for 2021 will be Drew Herring, a former developmental driver for Toyota Racing, who has one career NASCAR Cup Series start as a driver, which came in the 2019 season finale at Homestead.
No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
Stevie Reeves, a former NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series competitor, will stick with Christopher Bell as the 25-year old driver moves to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for the 2021 season.
No. 23 23XI Racing
As Bubba Wallace ventures into possibly the most anticipated new team in the sport in the last decade — or longer — he’ll be doing so with a familiar voice on the radio in Freddie Kraft. Kraft has been the spotter for Wallace in his various NASCAR division starts for the last decade and the pairing will enter their 11th season together in 2021.
Make it 11 years with @BubbaWallace
— Freddie Kraft (@FreddieKraft) November 10, 2020
If Michael Jordan’s first foray as a NASCAR owner will be successful, it’ll be in large part to the rapport on the radio between Wallace and Kraft.
No. 34 Front Row Motorsports
Clayton Hughes, who will be moving on from Martin Truex Jr. in 2021, will move to Front Row Motorsports’ No. 34 team. While it hasn’t been officially announced, Michael McDowell is fully expected to return as the driver for the team in 2021, and Hughes’ tweet following word breaking that he is going to the No. 34 suggests it will be McDowell driving the car and that Drew Blickensderfer will return as crew chief.
I’m so excited to be working with my buddy Drew. He’s the best crew chief in the garage. I can’t wait for to be on the radio with Michael in Daytona!!! We are going to have a great year!!!
— Clayton Hughes (@SpotterClayton) December 5, 2020
No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing
Brandon McReynolds, the son of legendary NASCAR Cup Series crew chief Larry McReynolds, will serve as Ross Chastain’s spotter in his first full-time NASCAR Cup Series season with Chip Ganassi Racing. Chastain has racked up wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series, all he needs is a trip to victory lane in the Cup Series to cap off the NASCAR career triple crown.
No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports
Erik Jones will move to a new team in 2021 in Richard Petty Motorsports, but aside from driving the iconic No. 43 machine, things will seem quite familiar for Jones on the radio, as Rick Carelli will follow him to RPM. Carelli is a four-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and he has helped guide Jones to his two-career NASCAR Cup Series wins to date.
No. 99 Trackhouse
Daniel Suarez will be moving to the upstart No. 99 Trackhouse team, which will be owned by Justin Marks. Suarez will bring with him Steve Barkdoll, who served as his spotter a season ago at Gaunt Brothers Racing. The duo, despite running for an underfunded team, had a successful season from a safety standpoint. Suarez was only involved in three incidents during points-paying races in 2020. Suarez’s 0.086 incidents per race was the second-lowest rate of all drivers who competed in at least 30 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2020. Only Timmy Hill (0.083) had a lower incident rate.
If Suarez and Barkdoll can see an improvement in performance in the Trackhouse cars in addition to mirroring that safety on the track, they may surprise some folks in 2021.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.