NASCAR News/Rumors (1/3/21): Larson reinstated, Wood Brothers with full ownership of charter

Kyle Larson stands by his car during practice for NASCAR Cup Series Penzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Feb. 21, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Read for a recap of the latest news and rumors around NASCAR:

Kyle Larson officially reinstated

With the turn of the year, Kyle Larson is officially reinstated by NASCAR and cleared for racing in 2021. Larson was suspended on April 13, 2020, after he was caught saying a racial slur during an iRacing event.

Once NASCAR announced in the fall that Larson would be eligible to race in 2021, Hendrick Motorsports signed the 28-year-old to a multi-year contract.

Larson will drive the No. 5 car with Cliff Daniels, formerly the Crew Chief of Jimmie Johnson, calling the shots. Sponsorship has yet to be announced.

Wood Brothers Racing now has full control of charter

According to their Twitter page, Wood Brothers Racing has purchased full ownership and control of their Cup Series charter. Since 2017, the team co-owned a charter with Go Fas Racing.

Wood Brothers Racing ran part-time from 2006-2015, going to victory lane once in that span with Trevor Bayne behind the wheel in the 2011 Daytona 500. The team began full-time operations again in 2016 with Ryan Blaney driving, and he remained with the team through the 2017 season before his switch over to Penske Racing. Paul Menard replaced Blaney as the driver of the No. 21 in 2018 and 2019 before Matt DiBenedetto took over the ride in 2020.

DiBenedetto will drive the car for one more season before Austin Cindric takes over in 2022.

Five teams remain without a driver

The Daytona 500 is just six weeks away, and five race teams remain without a driver: The No. 15, No. 51, No. 52, and the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing, and the No. 38 for Front Row Motorsports. John Hunter Nemechek’s departure to the Camping World Truck Series opened the No. 38, with a full-time driver is expected to sign there eventually. Anthony Alfredo has been linked to the team, but nothing’s confirmed. Alfredo made 19 starts for the Richard Childress Racing No. 21 car in the 2020 Xfinity Series, picking up a pair of top-5s and 9 top-10s.

In contrast, a combination of drivers are expected to fill the four rides for Rick Ware Racing. The organization typically doesn’t hire drivers full-time.

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