Start Your Engines!
Inspired by Griffin Spier's One More Spark, the goal of Start Your Engines! is to focus on various what-if scenarios. All of his ideas will be incorporated, and even more, will be included. The results of every race will be simulated in full using NASCAR Racing: 2003 Season. Included in this timeline are fictional teams such as Pacific Coast Racing, a team founded in 1948 renowned for two things: their ingenuity, and their fanatical devotion to Chrysler and its brands, PCR satellite team Kelman Racing, and Kennedy Racing, a Pontiac team, alongside fictional drivers from various NASCAR video games; users can also add their own teams and/or drivers here. Also, well-known NASCAR busts such as Danica Patrick and Trevor Bayne will have much more success in this timeline.
The following mods will be used for this timeline:
- 1987-1988: Aero88
- 1989-1996: Cup90 (Cup Physics version)
- 1997-1998: WC98
- 1999-2002: Cup2000
- 2003: Cup03
- 2004: Cup04
- 2005: Cup05
- 2006-2012: Default Cup
- 2013-2014: BR Gen6
- 2015-2016: Gen6 2015
- 2017: MENCS17
- 2018: MENCS18
- 2019-2020: MENCS19
- 2021-present: NextGen4
- 1988: Aero88
- 1989-1996: Cup90 (CTS Physics version)
- 1997-2010: PWF GNS
- 2011-2012: SRD NWS11
- 2013-2014: DMR NNS13
- 2015-2016: NXS16
- 2017-2018: NXS17
- 2019-present: SRD NXS20
- 1995-2008: PWF CTS
- 2009-2013: NCTS 09
- 2014-present: CWS 15
- 2021-present: Pinty's Series
Detailed race reports, pictures, and additional lore and news for each race can be found on Sim Racing Design (look for the threads started by BNSF1995). Eventually, the series should go on YouTube once editing software and an excellent-quality microphone could be provided for play-by-play commentary (in-studio scenes would require a camera and a suit and/or cordless microphone or headset depending on the budget), as well as graphics packages and music from the broadcasting networks of the time. The Starting Grid music is "Centipede Circle" by Edd Kalehoff. Paint schemes are done by Trevor807 and several other people.
Not to be confused with TbombtheAltHistorian's timeline Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!.
- What if Tim Richmond was still alive? - After the NASCAR championship banquet in 1986, Tim Richmond fell ill and missed the beginning of the 1987 season. In this what-if, the #25 and #35 ran at the same time.
- Richmond stayed in the #25 Folgers Chevrolet, and Benny Parsons drove the #35 car until his 1988 retirement.
- Ken Schrader stayed in the #90 Ford for Junie Donlavey until the end of the 1996 season. After 1997, Richmond moved to the #12 Ford for Penske Racing. He stayed in the car until his retirement in 2007.
- Ryan Newman instead drove the #62 from 2002-2008 full-time, moving to the #39 US Army Chevrolet at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, as in our timeline, then to the #31 JCB Chevrolet at Earnhardt-Childress Racing in 2014, then to the #6 Valvoline Ford at Roush Racing for 2019 (John W. Henry never bought a 50% stake in the team in 2007), and finally back with Team Penske to the #12 in 2020.
- Meanwhile, Ricky Craven drove the #35 from 1993-98, then Wally Dallenbach, Jr. drove from 1998-99, before Casey Atwood ran select races in 2001 and full-time from 2002-09, then Landon Cassill replaced him from 2010 onwards.
- Folgers sponsored the #35 car from 1987-88, DuPont sponsored the #35 from 1993-99, GMAC sponsored from 2001-09, and Folgers returned to sponsoring the car in 2010, while GMAC (now rebranded as Ally since 2010) moved to the #25.
What doesn't Change
- Bobby Allison's crash in the Winston 500 still happened.
- What if Bobby Allison never had his crash? - In the 1988 Miller High Life 400, Bobby had a scary crash that wound up ending his career. In this what-if, Allison retired at the end of the 1991 season.
- The #12 and #84 ran at the same time in the 1989 season.
- Allison spent his final two seasons driving for his own team.
- Hut Stricklin drove for Allison in the Busch Series in 1990 and 1991, before replacing him in the Cup Series in 1992.
- What if Chrysler returned in 1988 instead of 2001? - In our timeline, Chrysler tried breaking back into NASCAR with the Chrysler LeBaron, but General Motors and Ford had built unwavering support bases, though the LeBaron was fielded in ARCA from 1989 to 1998 to great success. In this timeline, Chrysler began fielding the LeBaron in the Winston Cup Series in 1988, with eight cars on track, including Tim Johnson (no relation to the Johnsonverse Tim) in the #80, Sterling Marlin in the #44, Phil Parsons in the #55, Michael Waltrip in the #30, Ken Schrader in the #90, Lake Speed in the #83, Jimmy Means in the #52, and Richard Petty in the #43. Chrysler fielded the LeBaron until 1997, when it brought back the Dodge brand with the Dodge Avenger (though Dodge branding was limited to the Chrysler Pentastar on the A-pillar, which has been a Pacific Coast Racing tradition since 1988), then switching to the Intrepid in 1999, then the Stratus (as an interim car until the Charger begins production under NASCAR's homologation rules) in 2004, then the Charger in 2005 and finally the Challenger in 2019, with the Dart being an eligible bodystyle from 2013 to 2016 that several small teams ran. Sabco always fielded Chrysler products since its 1989 inception, and has continued to do so as Chip Ganassi Racing.
- What if Coca-Cola Superspeedway existed? - Coca-Cola Superspeedway is a restrictor-plate fantasy track made by Papyrus for NR2003. It doesn't exist in real life, but in Start Your Engines!, it does, being built outside Denver, CO in 1988 and getting two dates in 1989.
- What if another NASCAR country album was made? - In 1975, a bizarre country album with songs sung by NASCAR drivers of the day (including Richard Petty, Neil Bonnett, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, and Darrell Waltrip) was released, known as NASCAR Goes Country. In Start Your Engines!, a second album called NASCAR Goes Country: Volume II was released. This new album brought back Petty, Bonnett, Yarborough, Waltrip, and Allison, and also added Dale Earnhardt, Tim Richmond, Rusty Wallace, and then-rookie Tim Johnson. Most of the album ranged from mediocre to cringe-inducing, except for the two songs sung by Johnson, these being "Big Iron" by Marty Robbins (who himself ran several NASCAR races between 1966 and his death in 1982), and the Vaughan Monroe version of "Riders in the Sky", which received praise due to the fact Johnson could actually sing.
What doesn't Change
- Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway is still reconfigured and renamed Richmond International Raceway.
- Phoenix International Raceway still takes the Winston Western 500's old spot on the schedule.
- Restrictor plates are still mandated at Daytona and Talladega.
- The tire war between Goodyear and Hoosier still takes place.
- What if NASCAR never left Riverside? - In this timeline, the residents who complained about the noise were told "deal with it", and the track stayed on the schedule for at least one date, this being the Budweiser 400.
- What if the Winston Cup Series raced at Pike's Peak International Speedway, The Milwaukee Mile, and Road America? - In this timeline, PPIR is built in 1984 instead of 1997, and NASCAR makes two stops at Pike's Peak and The Milwaukee Mile. For Pike's Peak, the Coors 400 is run between the Pepsi 400 and Milwaukee's second date, the Mountain Dew 400, which has the side-effect of moving the Diet Coke 400 at Coca-Cola Superspeedway between Phoenix and the season finale at Atlanta, while a second date for Coca-Cola, the Sprite 500, is added between the July Talladega date and Watkins Glen. Milwaukee's first date, the Pabst Blue Ribbon 400, falls between the spring Martinsville and Talladega dates.
- What if Grant Adcox was still alive? - The seat requirement was enacted much earlier. As a result, Adcox survived, and raced until 2006. He may have even won a few races, but we'll see.
What Doesn't Change
- Sears Point Raceway is still added to the Winston Cup schedule, meaning there are now two road course races in California. Sears Point takes the old Budweiser 400 weekend, while the Budweiser 400 is moved to the week between the Autoworks 500 and the Atlanta Journal 500.
- What if Rob Moroso was still alive? - Moroso was a promising BGN prospect. In 1990, he moved to the Cup Series and struggled. In this timeline, Moroso lived, and he became the fourth Chrysler on track along with Richard Petty, Tim Johnson, and Chloe Johnson (who joined the series as a rookie in 1989). Starting in 1999, Moroso Racing and Rudd Performance Racing merged to form Moroso-Rudd Racing, with Moroso in the #82 and Ricky Rudd in the #83. After the 2015 season, Moroso retired. His replacement was Dakoda Armstrong.
- What if there was a superspeedway in the San Francisco Bay Area? - This one is more of a personal what-if for BNSF1995. This track, called San Jose Motorplex, is located in nearby Gilroy. The track used will be Progressive Speedway.
- What if Michigan and Pocono each lost a date? - Until the advent of the Pocono doubleheader, these tracks' two dates were always close together. In this timeline, both tracks lose a date in 1990 in favor of other venues.
- What if Ontario Motor Speedway was never demolished? - In this timeline, the track was still purchased by the Chevron Land Company, but they did so without any idea what they wanted to do with the land, as well as the Ontario Motor Speedway Historical Society taking the company to court in a drawn-out legal battle. By 1987, they settled, and sold the facility to the society. ARCA held a race here in 1988, a 1/2 mile dragstrip was built for NHRA in 1989, and in 1990, the Los Angeles Times 500 was run once again as the season finale, where it stays to this day.
What Doesn't Change
- Ricky Rudd's rear tire changer Mike Rich is still killed at the Atlanta Journal 500 after Bill Elliott spins on pit road, and pit road speed limits and "lollipops" are implemented.
- What if NASCAR brought back mid-week races?:
- With its growing popularity, NASCAR decides to bring back weekday Winston Cup Series racing, mainly at venues that wouldn't otherwise get any spotlight. These races are broadcast (either live or on tape-delay, depending on if it was a night race; this is done to accomodate fans who are at work or school) as part of ESPN's Wednesday Night Thunder, which they still broadcast even under the 2001-2006 and 2015-2024 television packages; Paul Page has always called these races. Among the tracks run on Wednesdays are Five Flags, Langley, South Boston, Myrtle Beach, Motor Mile, Thompson, Nashville (Fairgrounds), Bowman Gray Stadium, Greenville-Pickens, Heartland Park, Road Atlanta, Portland International Speedway, Huntsville, Winchester, Caraway, IRP, among many other short tracks and road courses.
- The tracks that are raced change every year, with every track part of a rotation; the only tracks guaranteed a spot on the schedule are South Boston, Nashville, Iowa, and Road Atlanta (the latter two by virtue of being owned by NASCAR); tracks were originally planned to be selected by random draw, before it was changed to tracks with a reasonable driving distance to bigger venues for the sake of logistics. A provision was also added during planning that midweek races could only be 200 miles, with a few exceptions such as road courses and tracks that are in markets large enough to justify a 400/500-mile race.
- What if J.D. McDuffie was still alive? - McDuffie retired after the 2000 season (by then, he had only run select events), though he remained a team owner. His replacement was 22-year-old Crissy Hillsworth, who has driven the #70 Pontiac since 2001. 1994 also saw McDuffie's team switch to Chrysler. Wendy’s joined as sponsor in 2003.
- What if the convoluted pit road rules used early in 1991 were never implemented? - Exactly what it says on the tin.
- What if Clifford Allison was still alive? - Allison never had the crash that took his life at Michigan in 1992. He moved up to the Cup Series in 1996, and retired after the 2016 season. He drove the #84 Snickers Ford for Stavola Bros. Racing from 1996 to 1997, the #30 Gumout (later Sara Lee, Viagara, and CF Sauer) Dodge for Bahari/Eel River Racing from 1998 to 2001, the #4 Kodak Chevrolet/Pontiac for Morgan-McClure Racing from 2001 to 2002, and finally the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford for Robert Yates Racing from 2003 to 2016.
What Doesn't Change
- Richard Petty still retired at the end of the season.
- What if Jeff Gordon drove for Bill Davis Racing? - The plan was for Gordon to move up to the Cup Series in 1993 to drive the #22 Maxwell House Ford. However, upon being noticed by Rick Hendrick, Gordon immediately jumped ship to Hendrick Motorsports. In this scenario, Gordon drove the #22 Maxwell House Ford in 1993, and stayed in the ride until the 2015 season, after which he retired. This one change has many, MANY knock-on effects:
- Chase Elliott replaced him in the #22, which was renumbered to #9 for 2018 onwards with permission from Evernham Motorsports
- Bill Davis Racing's downfall never happened
- For Gordon's Cup debut in the 1992 Hooters 500, Davis fielded a second car, the #23, with sponsorship from Gordon's then-sponsor in the Busch Series, Baby Ruth
- Bobby Labonte drove the #23 Baby Ruth car until the end of the 2011 season, with Jason Leffler replacing him from 2012 onwards, as Dale Jarrett stayed in the #18 car
- John Andretti stayed in the #43 Dodge until retiring after the 2011 season
- Reed Sorenson stayed in the #41 in 2009, and became a journeyman driver in 2010, Phoenix Racing fielded the #51, and Michael Waltrip fielded the #01; as a side note, Waltrip ran the correct font for the #01 in the 2011 Daytona 500 with the blessing of Dale Earnhardt
- Ward Burton drove a third car, the #24, from 1996 to 2007 (MBNA sponsored the car from 1996 to 1998, and Caterpillar from 1999 onward)
- Scott Wimmer has driven the #24 since 2008
- Randy LaJoie stayed in the Busch Series
- The #23 Winston Ford fielded by Travis Carter from 1994-1999 is instead the #32
- Penske's #22 is instead the #02, and had the same drivers as in real life (Kurt Busch in 2011, A.J. Allmendinger and Sam Hornish Jr. in 2012, and Joey Logano from 2013 to the present day); after Chase Elliott switched to #9 in 2018, the #02 at Penske became the #22, reserving the #02 for any R&D cars Pacific Coast Racing may wish to run
- BDR switched to Chrysler in 1994 instead of Pontiac (thanks to Jeff Gordon's strong rookie campaign in 1993, this move dealt a major blow to Ford), and remains loyal to Chrysler, as they never switched to Toyota in any series
- The #24 that William Byron currently drives in real life is the #5, as was the original plan; its sponsorship comes from Farmers Insurance and Liberty University
- Andrew Murstein formed his own team with Doug Bergeron, DGB-Medallion Racing, in 2009, fielding the #09 car (from 2009-2011, the driver was A.J. Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose drove the car from 2012-2014; Ambrose stayed in the #47 until 2011, and Sam Hornish, Jr. drove from 2015 onward); Bergeron's share was bought out by Murstein at the end of 2014, and the team is now simply known as Medallion Racing. The team fielded Dodges in 2009, Fords from 2010-2017, and Chevys from 2018 onward.
- The famous DuPont scheme is still seen, but instead of the #24 car (as that number was taken by Bill Davis Racing), it's on the #35 driven by Ricky Craven from 1993 to 1998 (Steve Grissom drove the #41 in 1995 and 1996, while Robert Pressley drove the #29 during those years, and Jeff Green drove the #33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet; the ill-fated ISM Racing entry sponsored by Tabasco has the number 45 instead), then Wally Dallenbach Jr. from 1998 to 1999, at which point sponsorship was transferred over to the #25 car after Budweiser jumped ship for DEI; from 2000 to 2002, Jack Sprague drove the #25, with Brian Vickers taking over in 2003, driving the car for only a year until Ricky Hendrick moved up to the Nextel Cup Series in 2004 and took over; he still runs the #25 Axalta Chevrolet to this day.
- What if Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison were still alive? - Kulwicki's plane crash almost happened in this timeline, but the plane was hijacked by a pilot who knew what he was doing, and successfully landed the plane; a shaken Kulwicki vowed to take Amtrak from that day forward. Davey Allison, meanwhile, never had his helicopter crash at all. Kulwicki continued driving for his own team, switching to Chrysler in 1995, and retired after the 2009 season, while Allison left Yates in 2003 to drive the #90 Fujifilm Ford (which had been acquired from the remains of Donlavey Racing) for Steele Racing with Brett Favre (now Brett Favre Racing after the death of Harold Steele in 2011), and retired after the 2012 season.
- What if Cale Yarborough successfully fielded the Mercury Cougar? - See this link. Because he successfully fielded it, Mercury returned to NASCAR for the first time since 1980 (barring Mercury engine parts used by Pacific Coast Racing during the "Junkrat" years and the Mercuries that ran in the Busch Series, Goody's Dash Series, and ARCA), and lured back their old golden boys, Wood Brothers Racing; they switched to the Sable in 1997, and continued running until Ford pulled them and Lincoln at the end of 2002, though Sables could still be found in the Busch Series throughout 2003, and they lingered in ARCA as late as 2009. On NR2003, it will be used on a Chevrolet body, as no 1993 Mercury Cougar body exists in the Cup90 mod. Mercury stays in NASCAR until the end of 2002, using this template from 1999 to 2002 (1997-98 will probably use layer parts from the Cup2000 template).
What Doesn't Change
- New Hampshire International Speedway is still added to the Winston Cup schedule.
- Electronic scoring is still introduced.
- What if Neil Bonnett was still alive? - Bonnett never had the crash at the 1990 TranSouth 500 at Darlington. From 1990, he drove the #31 Mom 'N' Pops Country Ham Lumina for Richard Childress before retiring at the end of 1996. He then became a broadcaster for TNN and later NBC/TBS full-time. As a result, Dale Jarrett drove for Wood Brothers Racing in 1990.
- What if Rodney Orr was still alive? - Orr ran full-time in 1994, and didn't do terribly, but gradually improved in performance as time passed. He retired after the 2011 season.
- What if Ernie Irvan never had his crashes? - Irvan drove the #88 for Robert Yates Racing until retiring at the end of the 2008 season. Dale Jarrett drove the #18 Interstate Batteries car for Joe Gibbs Racing until his 2008 retirement. Kyle Busch stayed in the #5 Kellogg's car for another year, and Casey Mears continued the #25 National Guard car for another year.
What Doesn't Change
- NASCAR still starts racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- What if GMC entered NASCAR? - When the Craftsman Truck Series was created in 1994, General Motors entered GMC as the fourth manufacturer. Their reasoning was so the series would have a Pontiac equivalent. Factory support for GMC was pulled after the 1999 season, but GMC Sierras could still be seen as late as 2002.
What Doesn't Change
- The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is still created.
- What if Casey Elliott was still alive? - In 1994, Elliott planned to move up to the Busch Series. However, he would succumb to bone cancer in 1996 at only 22. In this scenario, Elliott never had his cancer, and was able to move up to the Busch Series and eventually the Cup Series in 1996 in the #94. Because of this, his uncle Bill Elliott used the #9 in honor of Melling Racing, the team he drove for from 1981 to 1991, as he used the #94 in honor of his nephew, with Melling using the #92 instead. For the 1997 Brickyard 400, Ron Barfield ran the #93. Elliott still drives the #19 Dodge.
- What if John Nemechek was still alive? - Either his crash never happened, or it did, but he survived. Either way, he moves up to the Winston Cup Series in 1999, and is still racing today. Because he survives, John Hunter Nemechek is simply known as Hunter Nemechek.
- What if Tim Steele never had his crash? - In 1998, Steele started driving the #15 Nike/Sony Ford owned by his father Harold and Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. Steele retired after the 2016 season, and Parker Kligerman was his replacement. Greg Biffle instead drove the #06 for Jack Roush.
- What if NASCAR never left North Wilkesboro? - Instead of sending both of North Wilkesboro's races to Texas and New Hampshire, respectively, the historic track retained the Tyson Holly Farms 400, moved to a former off-weekend.
- What if Oldsmobile returned? - In 1997, with the advent of the SAFER Car, the Oldsmobile Alero was one of the eligible bodystyles; there was some debate as to whether it was truly an Alero, as it was built on the GM W platform (the same platform used by the Pontiac Grand Prix of the time), and therefore should have been the Oldsmobile Intrigue; however, the Intrigue wouldn't begin production until May 5 of that year, meaning it was ineligible under NASCAR's homologation rules. Only a few small teams ran the model, did not do well due to a lack of factory support, and Oldsmobile quietly left for the last time at the end of 1998, never to be seen again before shutting down altogether in 2004; Aleros could still be found in the Busch Series as late as 2002, and ARCA as late as 2011. It will use this template.
What Doesn't Change
- Texas Motor Speedway and California Speedway still join the schedule. The former comes under heated circumstances, as Texas World Speedway had heavily lobbied to be put back on the schedule after completing the necessary work to get the track back to NASCAR standards. After a drawn-out legal fight over the course of 1996, a compromise is reached: Texas Motor Speedway will hold races on odd-numbered years, and Texas World Speedway on even-numbered years; conversely, the track that doesn't hold any NASCAR races that year will instead host IndyCar, and vice-versa.
- Atlanta Motor Speedway is still reconfigured.
- Homestead-Miami Speedway is also still reconfigured, though to ensure better competition.
- What if the #64 Arby's FansTeam car actually raced? - In 1997, Bahari Racing co-owner Dick Bahre planned to start a team funded by fans that would debut in the 1998 season. The car number was going to be the #64, and would've been sponsored by Arby's. However, the team didn't get the required 2,500 signatures in time, and Arby's dropped out, with Bahre moving to Mansion Motorsports. In this scenario, the team races a Chevrolet in the 1998 season (as one t-shirt and the TNN website showed a Chevy), with a rookie from a different series driving. For more, see this link.
- What if Lincoln returned to NASCAR? - See this link. In 1998, Lincoln became the sixth manufacturer in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (fielding the Mark VIII, later rebadged as the Continental in 1999 due to the Mark VIII being discontinued in 1998), alongside Chevrolet (with the Monte Carlo), Dodge (with the Avenger), Ford (with the new Taurus), Mercury (with the Sable), and Pontiac (with the Grand Prix). Like Mercury, it, too, left NASCAR in 2003 due to the Ford Motor Company paring its focus down to just its main marquee in order to counter the growing threat presented by Dodge; Lincolns could still be seen in the Busch Series as late as 2006, and at least three are still running in ARCA. On NR2003, it will use this template from 1999 to 2002, and these template layers for 1998 only.
- What if the Florida wildfires never happened? - The Pepsi 400 was held in July and broadcast on CBS as planned. Jeff Green and Geoff Bodine ran the paint schemes that wound up unused in OTL (Green's Tampa Bay Rays scheme and Bodine's patriotic scheme).
- What if Steve Park didn't have either of his wrecks (1998 and 2001)? - Park wound up being a much better driver; he stayed with DEI until the end of the 2005 season, and went back to the Truck Series for 2006 onwards due to being more comfortable there. Darrell Waltrip stayed in the #17 Speedblock Chevrolet for the rest of the season (Speedblock paid their checks in this timeline), while the #45 Tabasco Pontiac shut down after 1998 with Todd Bodine and Rich Bickle sharing the car in 1998. Waltrip still sold his team to Tim Beverly after the season, however.
What Doesn't Change
- Las Vegas Motor Speedway still joins the schedule.
- What if Darrell Waltrip drove for DEI instead of Travis Carter? - In real life, Waltrip had a horrible tenure with Travis Carter, missing several races during that time. Before Waltrip drove for Travis Carter, there were rumors that, if Waltrip couldn't find a ride, he would drive a second car for DEI, using equipment acquired from Buzz McCall's American Equipment Racing team. In this timeline, Waltrip drove the #17 MBNA Chevrolet for DEI in 1999 and 2000; he still retired after the 2000 season and became a color commentator for Fox from 2001 to 2019. The #17 was taken by his brother Michael, who used the number for his Michael Waltrip Racing team starting in 2007 (Roush's #17 team IOTL is instead #66). The #66 (which still became #23) was driven by Todd Bodine instead.
- What if the three-digit numbers were reinstated? - Before the 1999 season, it was announced that, for the first time since 1971, three-digit numbers could be fielded once again.
What Doesn't Change
- Homestead-Miami Speedway is still added to the schedule, but in this case, as part of the year-to-year midweek rotation.
- What if Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, and Tony Roper were still alive? - In 2001, Petty and Roper began running in the Winston Cup Series full-time, with Petty in the #45 Sprint Intrepid and Tony Roper in the #63 TracFone Monte Carlo. Irwin stayed in the #42 Cingular Intrepid. Kyle Petty stayed in the #44 car until his 2008 retirement, with a better send-off; he's currently the listed owner of Adam's #45 Dodge. Buckshot Jones stayed in the Busch Series. Michael Waltrip Racing started as a two-car operation with the #01 and #55 due to Dale Jarrett staying at JGR.
- What if Cale Yarborough was still a team owner? - Yarborough still fields the #98 today. The car fielded by Mike Curb, Phil Parsons and then Premium Motorsports from 2011-2016 is instead the #89.
- What if Nickelodeon sponsored a NASCAR stock car? - Since 2000, Nickelodeon has sponsored the #32 Ford (later Chevrolet) for PPI Racing. It was driven by Jerry Nadeau from 2000 to 2007, and is currently driven by former Hendrick developmental driver Boston Reid. Go FAS Racing instead fields the #65. As an aside, Nickelodeon is not mismanaged in this timeline due to someone other than Cyma Zarghami or Brian Robbins heading the network. The rundown of represented shows:
- 2000: Generic scheme
- 2001: Invader Zim
- 2002: The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and The Fairly OddParents (alternates races)
- 2003: My Life as a Teenage Robot
- 2004: Danny Phantom and Drake & Josh (alternates races)
- 2005: Avatar: The Last Airbender
- 2006: All Grown Up
- 2007: Back at the Barnyard
- 2008: iCarly
- 2009: The Penguins of Madagascar
- 2010: T.U.F.F. Puppy and Victorious (alternates races)
- 2011: Winx Club
- 2012: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Legend of Korra (alternates races)
- 2013: Adventure Time
- 2014: Henry Danger
- 2015: Harvey Beaks
- 2016: The Loud House
- 2017: Welcome to the Wayne
- 2018: Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- 2019: SpongeBob SquarePants 20th Anniversary and Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty (alternates races)
- 2020: The Casagrandes and It's Pony (alternates races)
- What if the Unocal 76 Challenge was never discontinued? - The award program for winning from the pole was never discontinued, still existing today as the Sunoco Challenge.
- What if Dale Earnhardt was still alive? - Earnhardt's crash never happened, and he continued driving the #3 Goodwrench Chevrolet until retiring at the end of 2005 following a joint farewell tour with Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd, at which point Jeff Burton inherited the car; Burton retired at the end of the 2014 season, and Austin Dillon has driven the car ever since (he drove the #33, renumbered from the #30, in 2014, as Ty Dillon started driving the car in 2015). Earnhardt's survival also has numerous knock-on effects for the future of NASCAR as a whole. Earnhardt made one last start at the 2008 Daytona 500, driving the #3 with Burton in the #33; GM Goodwrench returned for this one-off effort. This also means Ron Fellows moved to the Cup Series in 2002 to replace Steve Park in the #1, with Park moving to the #81.
- What if the double yellow line rule was never implemented? - Self-explanatory.
- What if Jeff Gordon never discovered Jimmie Johnson? - This is a minor one as it doesn't change much, but since Jeff Gordon drove for Bill Davis instead of Rick Hendrick, he never discovered Jimmie Johnson. Instead, Jimmie just happened to be in the right position at the right time, that being free agency, to become the driver for the new #50 Lowe's Chevrolet (because 24 times 2 equals 48), a car he stayed in until his retirement in 2020. Rick didn't hire Jimmie for his talent, but because he needed a driver for his new team; he didn't realize the kind of deal he got.
- What if Turner put NASCAR races on TBS instead of TNT under the 2001-2006 television contract? - In our timeline, Turner originally intended to put races on TBS, but when TNT introduced their new slogan "We Know Drama", they moved NASCAR to that network. In this timeline, NASCAR remained on TBS, broadcasting the same races TNT did between 2001 and 2014, using the classic NASCAR on TBS theme, "Zipliner".
- What if CBS was still in NASCAR? - In this timeline, CBS is still in NASCAR, under the 2001-2006, 2007-2014, and 2015-2024 television contracts, using the classic 1998-2000 theme and much of its broadcasting team; Ken Squier returned to the booth after Mike Joy left for Fox, while Greg Gumbel took over hosting duties. CBS broadcasts the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, and the summer portion of the schedule.
- What if Blaise Alexander was still alive? - Blaise drove a third Evernham car, the #91 for five races in 2002, before moving up to the Cup Series in 2003. He stayed in the ride until the end of 2003, after which he left for Penske Racing to drive the #77 from 2004 to 2010 (Michael Waltrip stayed with DEI for one more season in the #01). Between 2011 and 2020, Blaise drove the #2 for the same team, retiring after the 2020 season; Austin Cindric took over the car in 2021. Brad Keselowski has driven the fourth Hendrick car, the #52, since 2010 (Mark Martin drove the #52 in 2009 as a one-year stopgap, before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing from 2010 to 2013).
- What if Casey Atwood wasn’t rushed up to the Cup Series? - Atwood stayed in the #27 for 2001, and did five races for Hendrick Motorsports in a third car, the #35. He moved up to the Cup Series full-time in 2002 in the car, and moved to Roush Racing in 2010 in the #97. Hendrick's current lineup is William Byron in the #5, Ricky Hendrick in the #25, Landon Cassill in the #35 (Front Row Motorsports instead ran the #26 in 2014 and 2015, with Swan Racing running the #63 instead), Kyle Larson in the #50, and Keselowski in the #52.
What Doesn't Change
- Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway are still added to the schedule. However, like with the Texas tracks, Chicagoland is run on odd-numbered years, while Chicago Motor Speedway is run in even-numbered years, and the track that didn't host a NASCAR race that year hosts IndyCar.
- Kentucky Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway are still added to the Busch Series schedule, with Kentucky eventually getting a coveted weekend race in the Sprint Cup Series in 2011 (bumping The Milwaukee Mile's remaining date to a midweek slot), and Nashville Superspeedway becomes one of the many, many midweek races in rotation starting in 2004. As of June 3, 2020, the "what-if" of Nashville Superspeedway hosting a Cup Series event of any kind is now outdated, as the Cup Series will indeed go to Nashville Superspeedway in 2021.
- 9/11 still happened, and the New Hampshire 300 was still delayed.
- What if Ricky Hendrick never had his injuries and was still alive? - Ricky never had the injuries that forced him into retirement, and as a result, drove the #5 car in 2002 and 2003 full-time, with Brian Vickers driving the #55 instead. The Hendrick plane crash still happened, but there were multiple survivors, including Ricky, John Hendrick's twin daughters Kimberly and Jennifer, and pilot Elizabeth Morrison; everyone else aboard, including general manager Jeff Turner, chief engine builder Randy Dorton, DuPont executive Joe Jackson, Tony Stewart's pilot Scott Lathram, and the other pilot, Richard Tracy, were killed. Morrison was booked on charges of reckless endangerment. Hendrick moved up to the Cup Series in 2004 in the #25 car, which he still drives today. Brian Vickers drove the #52 from 2004 to 2006, and Casey Mears drove the car in 2007 and 2008.
What Doesn't Change
- Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes still dies in a car crash, and all of the DEI cars still honor her by painting a black stripe under their left headlight decals.
- What if Jerry Nadeau never had his career-ending crash? - Nadeau stayed in the #32 Nickelodeon Ford until 2007, before joining Hendrick from 2008 to his 2017 retirement, in the #5 Amp Energy/Mountain Dew car. Mark Martin drove the #52 for 2009, before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing from 2010 to his 2013 retirement to drive the #66 Burger King Chevrolet. Kasey Kahne remains at Evernham Motorsports.
- What if the No Bull 5 stuck around for one more year? - In this timeline, the No Bull 5 was held for one more year before Nextel took over title sponsorship of the Cup Series.
What Doesn't Change
- Pontiac still leaves at the end of the season, but in this timeline, they never go under and eventually return in 2015 (more on that below).
- The Approved Body Configuration (ABC) is still introduced (represented by the Default Cup cars).
- What if the Chase never happened? - With the replacement of Winston with Nextel as the title sponsor for the Cup Series, Brian France wanted to incorporate a postseason playoffs for the last ten races called the "Chase for the Cup". Dale Earnhardt, however, balked at the idea of NASCAR "copying the NFL", and France, wary of alienating one of the sport's biggest drivers, backed down and kept the 1975 Bob Latford format in place.
- What if the Green-White-Checkered finish was never implemented? - This is a simple one. The GWC is never implemented, and neither was freezing the field on a caution. This one is for practical reasons, owing to limitations with NR2003.
- What if there was no video game exclusivity? - In this timeline, EA Sports never scored the exclusive license to make NASCAR games, though they still make NASCAR games. Papyrus released NASCAR Racing: 2004 Season (NR2004) alongside EA Sports' NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup, and continues making NASCAR games to this day, having released NASCAR Racing: 2020 Season (NR2020) alongside NASCAR 21 and Atari's NASCAR Heat 2021. The difference between the three series is night-and-day:
- The EA Sports games are more arcadey, though still realistic enough. NASCAR 10 reintroduced production cars, and also introduced the NASCAR Camping World East and West Series. NASCAR 11 saw the return of Fight to the Top mode (with new features such as factory support for owned teams, the ability to create and name your own team and hire multiple drivers, and the ability to purchase equipment from other teams or use older-model cars such as the Ford Taurus or Dodge Stratus or even some brands that are not in NASCAR, such as Oldsmobile, Buick, Mercury, Lincoln, and others; players can also play Fight to the Top without a 20-season limit like previous games had done), and also did away with fantasy drivers in the Whelen Modified Tour in favor of real drivers such as Mike Stefanik, Ron Silk, and Bobby Santos III; it also added the Whelen All-American Series, which players now start out driving in in Fight to the Top driving pavement late models. NASCAR 12 introduced the new Nationwide Series bodystyle and manufacturers to the Camping World Truck Series and Whelen Modified Tour. NASCAR 13 brought back the Swap Car command, and added the ARCA Racing Series. NASCAR 14 introduced the new bodystyle for the SAFER Car, as well as revamped Fight to the Top to add midweek races to the Sprint Cup Series. On an unrelated note, EA never fell to greed in this timeline; in fact, the company is heavily against microtransactions and loot boxes, and doesn't milk the franchises they acquire.
- NASCAR Heat focuses on immersion. Every game since Dirt to Daytona has used the same style of career mode, though starting with NASCAR Heat 2004, Infogrames followed EA Sports' lead and added the Busch Series; that game also had the option to use a Pontiac body in the Busch Series, and replaced the street stocks in the Dodge Racing Series with dirt late models (though the street stocks were brought back in NASCAR Heat 2009). Proceeding games would take inspiration from EA Sports, adding such features as a Team Communicator (though with more complex commands), various challenges, more unlockables, and eventually replacing fantasy drivers altogether with more obscure real drivers.
- NASCAR Racing Season is a simulator first and foremost. NASCAR Racing: 2004 Season, too, took notes from EA, and added the Craftsman Truck Series and Busch Series by default, as well as a more in-depth career mode and replay data being saved while accelerating time. NASCAR Racing: 2010 Season took note of the growing offline league community and added a director's mode that allows races to be edited and posted to YouTube. This also means that Papyrus didn't shut down in this timeline. We’ll go more in-depth on all these games on a later date.
- What if the grandfather clause didn't exist?
- What if Kevin Grubb never did drugs? - This means that Grubb is still a regular in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and is still alive.
What Doesn't Change
- Toyota still enters the Truck Series with the Tundra.
- What if NASCAR never left Rockingham? - The Ferko lawsuit was declared a mistrial (through a set of complex circumstances), and as a result, not only did Texas and California not get their second dates, but Darlington and Rockingham still retain both of their dates, including the Southern 500 being on Labor Day weekend. In 2006, Texas and California did get second dates, but they were part of the midweek rotation.
- What if Racing Champions and Hot Wheels still produced diecasts? - In this timeline, neither company left NASCAR, and still makes diecasts alongside Lionel.
What Doesn't Change
- Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd still retire at the end of the season, after going on a joint retirement tour with Dale Earnhardt.
- Mark Martin still announces he's retiring at the end of 2005, but doesn't actually do so until 2013.
- The Busch Series still starts racing in Mexico. However, they are still racing there today along with Montreal.
- What if Shane Hmiel never did drugs?
- What if the Car of Tomorrow was never made? - Because Dale Earnhardt never died, NASCAR wasn't spurred to make safety enhancements. For one, they had already mandated the HANS Device after Greg Moore was killed in a CART crash at California Speedway in 1999, and numerous safety enhancements had already been implemented with the new body in 1997, colloquially called the SAFER Car. The controversial CoT, as a result, never existed, and the Gen-4 car stuck around until 2013, when it was replaced by the Gen-6 car, though in this timeline, the car was merely a new body for the SAFER Car to better reflect cars in the showrooms, which had become taller since 1997. It was replaced by the new Next Gen car in 2021, again a new body for the SAFER Car chassis to better reflect car design trends.
- What if Benny Parsons was still alive? - In this timeline, Parsons' cancer never occurred. He joined the TBS broadcast crew for the 2007-2014 contract as planned, and rejoined NBC's crew under the 2015-2024 contract in place of Steve Letarte. As of 2021, he is still active as a color commentator for NBC/NBCSN at the age of 79.
- What if Hoosier returned? - In late 2006, Goodyear workers went on strike, putting tire production in jeopardy. NASCAR met with Hoosier and created a backup plan that called for Hoosier to produce tires for the 2007 season. In our timeline, the strike ended before the plan was needed, but in Start Your Engines!, it didn't, and most of the season was run on Hoosier tires across all three national series and all regional series that had been running Goodyears. Hoosier's return ended up being one of the top stories of Speedweeks, along with the various cheating scandals during qualifying. Goodyear tires finally returned in time for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega in the fall.
What Doesn't Change
- Toyota still entered the Nextel Cup and Busch Series with the Camry.
- Bobby Hamilton still died.
- What if Dale Earnhardt Jr. never left DEI? - Because his father never died, Junior didn't become disillusioned with the team under his stepmother Teresa's control (as a side note, Dale Sr. would eventually divorce Teresa in 2008 in a very messy, very public divorce that dominated the headlines of Speedweeks 2008), and he remained in the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet until his 2017 retirement. In 2018, his nephew Jeffrey (who had driven the #81 since his 2012 rookie campaign) took over, and flourished. Jeffrey was replaced in the #81 for one year by Brendan Gaughan (with the car renumbered to #62 for that year) before Daniel Hemric took over in 2019.
What Doesn't Change
- The Great Recession still happens.
- The Nextel Cup Series still becomes the Sprint Cup Series, and the Busch Series still becomes the Nationwide Series.
- What if Yates Racing never went under? - In this timeline, Robert Yates continued owning his team until his 2017 death; his son Doug took control and renamed it to Yates Racing in the 2018 season. Yates still acquired the #96 Hall of Fame Racing team, however.
- What if Jeremy Mayfield was clean? - Because Mayfield was clean, he was more successful in NASCAR. He spent his final years in the #88 for Robert Yates from 2009 (replacing Ernie Irvan) to his 2015 retirement.
- What if Dale Earnhardt Inc. never merged with Chip Ganassi Racing?:
- Instead of merging with CGR, DEI instead merged with Richard Childress Racing to stave off the effects of the Great Recession, forming Earnhardt-Childress Racing (ECR), a six-car operation (in this timeline, the four-car limit was never established in 2010).
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued driving the #8 Budweiser car, Martin Truex, Jr. kept the #1 Bass Pro Shops car, Kevin Harvick stayed in the #30 Shell-Pennzoil car, Jeff Burton retained the #3 Reese's car, Clint Bowyer moved over to the #31 Cheerios car, and Matt Kenseth drove a new car bearing the #81; teams that didn't work pre-merger were eliminated, these being the #01 of Paul Menard and the original #81 of Regan Smith (inherited from MB2 Motorsports). In addition, the #14 driven by Sterling Marlin (who retired at the end of 2008) was absorbed into the #1 team. Kenseth left for Joe Gibbs Racing after the 2011 season, and was replaced by Jeffrey Earnhardt, meaning Joey Logano moved to Penske one year earlier.
- Because of this, CGR never switched to Chevy from Dodge, and remained a three-car operation with the #40 of David Stremme, the #41 of Reed Sorenson, and the #42 of Juan Pablo Montoya. From 2010-2018, Jamie McMurray returned to Ganassi to replace Stremme in the #40, like in real life, though McMurray used the #40 instead of the #1. Bryan Clauson took the #41 since 2010, and like in real life, Kyle Larson replaced Montoya in the #42 for 2014 onward.
- The #41 for Stewart-Haas Racing is instead the #00.
- The current lineup for ECR is Truex in the #1, Austin Dillon in the #3, Jeffrey Earnhardt in the #8, Ty Dillon in the #31, Tyler Reddick in the #33, and Daniel Hemric in the #81 after Jeffrey moved to the #8 (Brendan Gaughan drove the car in 2018, as said above). Because of this, Kurt Busch stayed with Furniture Row Racing until the end of the 2018 season, and Stewart-Haas Racing hired Ryan Truex to drive the #00 Haas Automation Chevy (later Pontiac). For the 2019 season onwards, Busch has used the #40. Hillman Racing used the #04 instead, Casey Mears is still at Germain Racing, and Cole Custer still replaced Ryan from 2020 onwards.
- What if Petty Enterprises never merged with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports? - In this timeline, Petty Enterprises was more successful in the 2000s, as Adam Petty brought renewed confidence and more sponsorship money to the team (STP rejoined the team in 2005, though this time, sponsoring the #45 full-time due to STP's desire to sponsor a Petty). Because of this, owner Richard Petty saw no need to merge with any team. Petty Enterprises is currently a six-car operation with the #04 Smithfield Dodge of Aric Almirola, the #07 7-Eleven Dodge of Daniel Suárez, the #43 Click n' Close Dodge of Bubba Wallace, the #44 Twisted Tea Dodge of Chad McCumbee, the #45 STP Dodge of Adam Petty, and the #46 Mello Yello Dodge of Austin Petty (who ran for ROTY in 2003), and is widely considered the best team on the grid, reaching levels unseen since Richard himself drove the #43. Evernham (Gillett was bought out by Evernham in late 2010) currently fields the #19 and #91 entries for Casey Elliott and Ross Chastain, respectively. The #19 car that Joe Gibbs fields for Carl Edwards is instead the #54, and Gaunt Brothers Racing remained a part-time operation.
What Doesn't Change
- Tony Stewart still left Joe Gibbs Racing to become an owner-driver for Stewart-Haas Racing. However, crew chief Greg Zipadelli and sponsor Home Depot followed him to the #14 Chevrolet, and Chevron took over as sponsor of the #20 until being replaced by Dollar General in 2013 and DeWalt in 2015 with the coming of Matt Kenseth.
- The Craftsman Truck Series still becomes the Camping World Truck Series.
- What if Brian Vickers was always healthy? - Vickers ran the full season in 2010. He has run the #55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing since 2012 full-time.
- What if the five-car limit was never abolished? - Self-explanatory. NASCAR instead expanded the limit to six cars, allowing Earnhardt-Childress Racing to expand to a six-car operation in 2012 with Jeffrey Earhnardt driving the #81 Cessna Chevrolet, and Petty Enterprises to do the same in 2016 with Matt DiBenedetto driving the #07 7-Eleven Dodge.
- What if Roush Racing never went under? - Because the team gained new confidence, Roush remains one of the most consistent teams on the grid, with Greg Biffle continuing to drive the #06 Ford today.
- What if the Sprint Cup Series raced at Iowa Speedway? - Along with the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, the Sprint Cup Series began racing at Iowa in 2011.
- What if Trevor Bayne wasn't a bust? - Bayne became a dependable driver upon moving up to the Cup Series full-time in 2012. He still drives for Wood Brothers Racing. This means that Paul Menard drove the #12 with Ryan Blaney in the #77 (the second Furniture Row Racing car is the #87 instead), and after his retirement, Ryan Newman reunited with Penske for 2020 driving the #12 Menard's Dodge, and Ty Majeski replaced him in the #6.
- What if tandem drafting never existed? - Since the Car of Tomorrow never existed, neither did their flat noses. Although the superspeedway bodies used for the SAFER Car do have flat noses, the rear bumpers aren't low enough to make the tandem viable.
- What if Team Red Bull was still in NASCAR? - Scott Speed continued driving the #82 until 2014, when he decided to focus on his Global Rallycross Championship career. A. J. Allmendinger returned to the team to replace Speed, and the car was renumbered back to #84. David Reutimann replaced Brian Vickers in the #83, and Alex Bowman drove the #82 as a third car in 2014; Matt DiBenedetto replaced him in 2015. After he left at the conclusion of 2015, the #82 was shut down. When Reutimann retired after the 2020 season, Justin Haley took over the #83.
What Doesn't Change
- Juan Pablo Montoya still destroyed a jet dryer at the Daytona 500.
- The row between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer still occurred, though at Coca-Cola instead of Phoenix.
- What if Jason Leffler was still alive? - Because Kenny Irwin, Jr. survived, Leffler didn't move to the Cup Series until 2002, when he started driving the third car for Joe Gibbs Racing. With more Cup experience, Leffler knew what to do to prevent his tragic accident from happening.
- What if Tony Stewart never broke his leg? - Because he never did so, his performance never started slipping, combined with a more liberal rules package that perfectly suited his driving style and the Kevin Ward Jr. affair never happening. As of 2020, Stewart is still active in the Cup Series, still driving the #14 Pontiac (more on that below).
- What if Spingate never happened? - Because the Chase never existed, Spingate was rendered pointless. Michael Waltrip Racing is still competitive, and NAPA never left the team (as an aside, MWR never expanded to three cars until 2015, when Brett Moffitt was signed to drive the #56; NAPA was on the #55 instead; the team switched to Honda as its star team in 2015). Aaron's sponsors Chase Elliott instead, and its spot in the #55 is taken by AAA Insurance. Clint Bowyer stayed with the #01 team until the end of the 2018 season, being replaced by Michael's daughter Macy Waltrip.
- What if Dodge never left NASCAR? - In this timeline, Dodge maintained a loyal base, including Team Penske, Moroso-Rudd Racing, McDuffie Racing, Bill Davis Racing, Petty Enterprises, Evernham Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, and of course, Pacific Coast Racing. The merger with Fiat still happened, but they allowed Dodge to remain in the sport due to their base, and is even considering bringing Plymouth back as a performance car brand for the 2022 season.
- What if Danica Patrick wasn't a bust? - This may seem blunt, but let's face it, she was a bust (Black Flags Matter says so). In this timeline, emboldened by the successes of Chloe Johnson, Belle Armstrong, and Jenny Smith (again, no relation to their Johnsonverse counterparts), Patrick found more success in NASCAR, and is still in the #10. Aric Almirola and Smithfield are still at Petty Enterprises.
- What if Robby Gordon stayed in NASCAR? - Gordon still runs road courses every season. He switched from Dodge to Nissan for 2021.
What Doesn't Change
- What we know as the Generation 6 car is still introduced, but in this timeline, instead of being a new body for the Car of Tomorrow chassis that is marketed as a new car, it is a new body for the existing SAFER Car chassis, the first major update since the introduction of the Approved Body Configuration (ABC) in 2003. The main goal was to return the "stock" in stock car, as the low-profile bodies of the original SAFER Car design did not lend themselves to properly representing the cars in the showrooms, especially the Dodge Charger, whose NASCAR counterpart was too sleek compared to the muscle car it actually is; the Nationwide Series had fixed this by introducing its own new body for the SAFER Car in 2011, better representing the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger (though their version of the Chevrolet Impala was given the derisive name "Frankenpala", and the Nationwide Camry was also too angular compared to its street counterpart; this was intentional on NASCAR's part to prevent a new Aero War from breaking out, though one did break out in the Sprint Cup Series once Pontiac and Honda made their entrance).
- What if Pontiac never went under? - In this timeline, while Pontiac still left NASCAR at the end of 2003 (with one or two being run in the Cup Series until 2004, the Busch Series until 2005, and in ARCA as late as 2007), they never went bust during the Great Recession; instead, Pontiac was reorganized as GM's performance division, selling the G6, G8, Trans-Am, Firebird, and GTO. GM, wanting to counter the growing threat from Dodge and Toyota, elected to bring Pontiac back to NASCAR in 2015 with the G8 in the Sprint Cup Series, and the Firebird in the Xfinity Series (they had already been providing factory support for the Whelen Modified Tour and Pinty's Series). The model would change over the years (in the Cup Series, Pontiac switched to the G6 in 2017, then to the Trans-Am in 2019), but it's still Pontiac. Their flagship team is Stewart-Haas Racing.
- What if Honda entered NASCAR? - 2015 also sees Honda throw its hat into the NASCAR ring with the Accord. With the Next Gen car, this what-if may become outdated.
- What if Bryan Clauson was still alive? - After doing five races in 2009, Clauson ran for Rookie of the Year in 2010 in the #41 Juicy Fruit Dodge. He still does sprint car races from time to time, though due to having more experience in Cup, Clauson successfully prevented his death.
- What if the Charter System never existed? - Brian France was considering this, but again, Dale Earnhardt convinced him it was a bad idea due to its potential of being exploited by poorly-performing teams at the expense of more competitive ones, and alienating existing or potential team owners. The field remains an even 42 (due to NR2003 being incapable of using 43 computer opponents without a very specific exploit), as a result, rather than 40 or less, and teams never shut down in droves, notably HScott Motorsports, which still has Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier as drivers (after the death of Harry Scott, Jr. in 2017, the team was sold to Terry and Bobby Labonte, who renamed it Labonte Motorsports). Rick Ware Racing also only has one car: the #27 for Cody Ware.
What Doesn't Change
- Donald Trump is still elected president.
- What if Carl Edwards never retired? - Edwards still drives the #54 for Joe Gibbs Racing. Daniel Suárez instead drove the #87 Arris Toyota for Furniture Row Racing from 2017 to 2018, and Christopher Bell drove the car in 2020. Matt DiBenedetto still drives the #95 Procore Pontiac for Leavine Family Racing, and Suárez replaced him in the #07 7-Eleven Dodge for Petty Enterprises.
- What if NASCAR never introduced stage racing? - Because the Chase was scrapped, there was no need for stage racing to create artificial drama. Dale Earnhardt stated in an interview before the 2017 Daytona 500 that he considered potential gimmicks NASCAR could have taken, such as stage racing, that would have caused its downfall.
- What if Tommy Baldwin Racing improved, not worsened? - Baldwin switched to Dodge for 2017 with support from Pacific Coast Racing. It expanded to two cars in 2019 with James Buescher, and switched to Nissan in 2021.
- What if Matt Kenseth was never forced out of his ride? - Kenseth still drives the #20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Erik Jones still drives the #75 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota for Furniture Row Racing.
- What if Furniture Row Racing never shut down? - Self explanatory.
What Doesn't Change
- Brian France still gets arrested for a DUI on the day the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ran at Watkins Glen, and still resigns and is replaced by his uncle Jim.
- What if NASCAR never made year-to-year changes to the rules package? - Instead of constantly tweaking the cars every year and wildly changing the racing product, NASCAR hasn't touched the package since the SAFER Car was introduced in 1997 (due to the manufacturers having more input in the cars), and has given teams more leeway on what's acceptable. Because the racing product never degraded, sponsors never left NASCAR in droves, and the growth NASCAR experienced in the 90s and 2000s has been sustained. For example, Home Depot, 5-Hour Energy, and Lowe's never left the sport, still sponsoring the #14 of Tony Stewart, the #40 of Clint Bowyer, and the #50 of Jimmie Johnson, respectively.
- What if Macy Waltrip was a NASCAR driver? - Macy moved up to the Cup Series in 2019, replacing Clint Bowyer in the #01 MBNA Honda, as Bowyer moved to Furniture Row Racing to drive the #78 Toyota for Furniture Row Racing, with Kurt Busch moving to Chip Ganassi Racing, like in real life.
- What if Matt Tifft wasn't sidelined by health issues? - Self-explanatory.
- What if the COVID-19 pandemic never happened? - This assumes that the coronavirus either never left China, is so minor that it is literally just another form of the common cold, or straight-up doesn't exist, period. Not only did the season not stop, but the implementation of the Next Gen car (which in this timeline is known as the New Body Program II, as it's merely a new body on the existing SAFER Car chassis dating back to 1997) wasn't pushed back to 2022. Finally, Kyle Larson never got fired from Chip Ganassi Racing by using a racial slur on an iRacing live stream. This also means that Leavine Family Racing never shut down, and Go FAS Racing never became a part-time team.
What Doesn't Change
- John Andretti still died of cancer.
- Auto Club Speedway was still announced as a short track for 2022.
- Joe Biden was still elected president.
- Kobe Bryant still died in a helicopter crash.
- Ryan Newman's last-lap crash at the Daytona 500 still happened.
- The Cup Series still adopted the tiered sponsorship system.
- Clint Bowyer still retired and joined Fox after the season. He was replaced by Chase Briscoe in the #78.
- What if the Dash Series came back? - In 2021, NASCAR announced the return of the old Dash Series, officially known as the Blue-Emu Dash Series. The series officially runs four models: the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Focus, Dodge Neon (really a Mexican-rebranded Fiat Tipo), and Toyota 86, with one team running a Pontiac Sunfire and another running a Mazda Miata, marking Mazda's official debut in American NASCAR competition. The initial series will use this carset created by Thunder98 on Stunod Racing, which uses the Pinty's Series mod.
What Doesn't Change
- Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin still formed 23XI Racing.
- Kyle Larson still went to Hendrick Motorsports, though he drives the #50.
Current Cup Series Teams as of 2021
|Make||Model||Year Introduced||Previous model||Factory Team(s)|
|Chevrolet||Camaro SS||2020||Returning||Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt-Childress Racing|
|Camaro ZL1 1LE|
|Dodge||Challenger||2019||Returning||Chip Ganassi Racing, Evernham Motorsports, Pacific Coast Racing, Petty Enterprises, Team Penske|
|Charger||2005||Returning (hiatus in 2019-2020)|
|Ford||Mustang||2019||Returning||Roush Racing, Yates Racing, Wood Brothers Racing|
|Honda||Accord||2015||Returning||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|Nissan||GT-R||2021||New||Team Red Bull|
|Pontiac||Trans-Am||2019||Returning; G6 ineligible||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|Toyota||Camry||2007||Returning||Furniture Row Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Supra||2021||Previously Camry from 2007-20|
Note: Factory teams are teams that get direct support from their OEM. Equipment is then disseminated to non-factory teams.
|Chevrolet||Cale Yarborough Racing||98||Shane Hmiel||Westinghouse||Camaro SS|
|Earnhardt-Childress Racing||1||Martin Truex, Jr.||Bass Pro Shops||Camaro ZL1 1LE|
|3||Austin Dillon||Monster Energy
Bass Pro Shops
|Hendrick Motorsports||5||William Byron||Farmer's Insurance
|Camaro ZL1 1LE|
|52||Brad Keselowski||John Deere|
Mountain Dew AMP
|Medallion Racing||09||Sam Hornish, Jr.||Medallion Financial||Camaro SS|
|Phil Parsons Racing||198||Josh Wise||Camaro SS|
|PPI Motorsports||32||Boston Reid||Nickeodeon||Camaro ZL1 1LE|
|Premium Motorsports||49||Brennan Poole||fluctuates between races||Camaro ZL1 1LE|
|Rick Ware Racing||27||Cody Ware||fluctuates between races||Camaro ZL1 1LE|
|Spire Motorsports||74||Corey LaJoie||fluctuates between races||Camaro SS|
|79||Reed Sorenson||fluctuates between races|
|B. J. McLeod|
|Trackhouse Racing||92||Daniel Suárez||CommScope||Camaro SS|
|Dodge||AK Racing||7||James Kulwicki||Walmart||Charger|
|Bill Davis Racing||9||Chase Elliott||Aaron's
|93||Jason Leffler||Baby Ruth|
AARP Drive to End Hunger
|Chip Ganassi Racing||39||Dylan Kwasniewski||DC Solar||Challenger|
|40||Kurt Busch||Coor's Light|
Credit One Bank
|Evernham Motorsports||19||Casey Elliott||Dodge Dealers||Charger|
|91||Kasey Kahne||Stanley Tools|
|Kelman Racing||86||Sophie Kelman (R)||AT&T||Challenger|
|Labonte Motorsports||46||Michael Annett||Pilot
(restrictor-plate events only)
|McDuffie Racing||170||Crissy Hillsworth||Wendy's||Charger|
|Moroso-Rudd Racing||82||Dakoda Armstrong||Skoal Bandit||Challenger|
|Pacific Coast Racing||60||Katie Johnson||Makita
Hasbro (The Transformers)
Hasbro (G.I. Joe)
road course events only)
Hasbro (My Little Pony)
Hasbro (Potato Head)
|Petty Enterprises||04||Aric Almirola||Smithfield||Challenger|
|43||Erik Jones||Click n' Close|
World Wide Technologies
U.S. Air Force
|44||Chad McCumbee||Twisted Tea|
|46||Austin Petty||Mello Yello|
|Team Penske||2||Austin Cindric (R)||Miller Lite||Charger|
|77||Ryan Blaney||Discount Tire|
Alliance Auto Parts
|Ford||Front Row Motorsports||26||Matt Tifft||fluctuates between races||Mustang|
|34||Michael McDowell||Love's Travel Stops|
|38||Hunter Nemechek||fluctuates between races|
|Go FAS Racing||65||Ryan Ellis||fluctuates between races|
|Live Fast Motorsports||05||B. J. McLeod||fluctuates between races|
|Roush Racing||06||Greg Biffle||Grainger|
Fifth Third Bank
|97||Casey Atwood||Crown Royal|
|Wood Brothers Racing||21||Trevor Bayne||Motorcraft|
|Yates Racing||28||Davey Allison, Jr.||Texaco Havoline|
|96||Ryan Reed||Circuit City|
|Honda||Beard Motorsports||62||Noah Gragson
(superspeedway events only)
|Brett Favre Racing||15||Parker Kligerman||Nike |
|Germain Racing||13||Casey Mears||Geico|
|JTG Daugherty Racing||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Cottonelle|
|Michael Waltrip Racing||17||Macy Waltrip||MBNA|
|55||Brian Vickers||Square D|
|Nissan||Robby Gordon Motorsports||107||Robby Gordon
(road-course events only)
|Team Red Bull||83||Justin Haley (R)||Red Bull|
|84||A. J. Allmendinger||Red Bull|
|Tommy Baldwin Racing||36||J. J. Yeley||Accell Construction
|Pontiac||Kennedy Racing||03||Louise Kennedy||Aflac||Trans-Am|
|Leavine Family Racing||95||Anthony Alfredo (R)||Procore|
|StarCom Racing||05||Quin Houff||fluctuates between races|
|Stewart-Haas Racing||00||Cole Custer||Haas Automation|
|4||Kevin Harvick||Jimmy John's|
|14||Tony Stewart||Home Depot|
Bass Pro Shops
Rush Truck Centers
|Toyota||23XI Racing||23||Bubba Wallace||DoorDash
|Furniture Row Racing||75||Kaz Grala (R)||Auto-Owners Insurance||Camry|
|78||Chase Briscoe (R)||5-Hour Energy|
|Gaunt Brothers Racing||196||Stephen Leicht||Wendy's||Supra|
|Joe Gibbs Racing||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx||Camry|
|Orr Motorsports||37||Regan Smith||Burger King||Camry|
|No.||Race name||Venue||Track Type||Date||TV|
|1||Dodge/SaveMart 350||Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma||Road course||January 31||Fox|
|Busch Clash||Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach||Superspeedway (restricted)||February 9||CBS|
|Gatorade Twin 125's||February 11|
|2||Daytona 500||February 14|
|3||O'Reilly 200||Wall Stadium, Belmar||Short Track||February 17||ESPN|
|3||Subway 400||Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham||Intermediate||February 20||Fox|
|4||Kobalt Tools 200||Caraway Speedway, Ashboro||Short Track||February 24||ESPN|
|5||Pennzoil 400||Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas||Intermediate||February 28||Fox|
|6||Old Spice 200||Kern County Raceway Park, Bakersfield||Short Track||March 3||ESPN|
|7||Auto Club 400||Auto Club Speedway, Fontana||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||March 7||Fox|
|8||Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500||Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton||Intermediate||March 14||Fox|
|9||Home Depot 300||Road Atlanta, Braselton||Road Course||March 17||ESPN|
|10||TranSouth Financial 500||Darlington Raceway, Darlington||Egg-Shaped Intermediate||March 21||Fox|
|11||Food City 500||Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol||Short Track||March 28||Fox|
|12||Carolina Dodge Dealers 200||Bowman Grey Stadium, Winston-Salem||Short Track||April 7||ESPN|
|13||First Union 400||North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro||Short Track||April 11||Fox|
|14||Flex Seal 500||Irwindale Event Center, Irwindale||Short Track||April 14||ESPN|
|15||Silicon Valley 500||San Jose Motorplex, Gilroy||Superspeedway (restricted)||April 18||Fox|
|16||FanShield 500||Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale||Intermediate||April 25||Fox|
|17||Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500||Martinsville Speedway, Ridgway||Paperclip Short Track||May 2||Fox|
|18||Hasbro 200||Huntsville Speedway, Huntsville||Short Track||May 5||ESPN|
|19||GEICO 500||Talladega Superspeedway, Lincoln||Superspeedway (restricted)||May 9||Fox|
|20||Peterbilt 400||Dover International Speedway, Dover||Intermediate||May 16||Fox|
|21||Fritos 150||Bridgehampton Race Circuit, Sag Harbor||Road Course||May 19||ESPN|
|NASCAR All-Star Open||Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord||Intermediate||May 23||Fox|
|NASCAR All-Star Race|
|22||Coca-Cola 600||May 31||CBS|
|23||Diet Coke 500||Coca-Cola Superspeedway, Denver||Superspeedway (restricted)||June 6||Fox|
|24||Denver Post 400||Pikes Peak International Speedway, Fountain||Intermediate||June 9||ESPN|
|25||Pocono 400||Pocono Raceway, Long Pond||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||June 13||CBS|
|26||Lehigh Valley 400||Nazareth Speedway, Nazareth||Intermediate||June 20||CBS|
|27||FireKeepers Casino 400||Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||June 27||CBS|
|28||US Cellular 400||Iowa Speedway, Newton||Short Track||June 30||ESPN|
|29||Pepsi 400||Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||July 3||CBS|
|30||Ford EcoBoost 400||Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead||Intermediate||July 7||ESPN|
|31||Harley-Davidson 250||Road America, Lake Elkhart||Road Course||July 11||CBS|
|32||Pabst Blue Ribbon 400||Milwaukee Mile, West Allis||Intermediate||July 14||ESPN|
|33||Foxwood Casino Resort 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon||Intermediate||July 18||NBC|
|34||Lucas Oil 400||Lucas Oil Raceway, Brownsburg||Short Track||July 21||ESPN|
|35||Brickyard 400||Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||July 25||NBC|
|36||Bud 500||Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol||Short Track||July 31||NBC|
|37||Sam's Town 500||Memphis International Raceway, Memphis||Short Track||August 4||ESPN|
|38||Music City USA 420||Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, Nashville||Short Track||August 7||NBC|
|39||Ally 400||Nashville Superspeedway, Lebanon||Intermediate||August 11||ESPN|
|40||Tesla 500||San Jose Motorplex, Gilroy||Superspeedway (restricted)||August 15||NBC|
|41||HP Hood Oxford 500||Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford||Short Track||August 18||ESPN|
|42||Go Bowling at the Glen||Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen||Road Course||August 22||NBC|
|43||Bulls-Eye BBQ 200||South Boston Speedway, South Boston||Short Track||August 25||ESPN|
|44||Pennsylvania 400||Pocono Raceway, Long Pond||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||August 29||NBC|
|45||Greenville 200||Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Greenville||Short Track||September 1||ESPN|
|46||Southern 500||Darlington Raceway, Darlington||Egg-Shaped Intermediate||September 5||NBC|
|47||Mopar 400||Chicago Motor Speedway, Cicero||Paperclip Intermediate||September 8||ESPN|
|48||Pontiac Excitement 400||Richmond International Raceway, Richmond||Short Track||September 11||NBC|
|49||EchoPark Texas Grand Prix||Circuit of the Americas, Austin||Road Course||September 14||ESPN|
|50||Dodge Dealers 400||Dover International Speedway, Dover||Intermediate||September 19||NBC|
|51||Goody's 500||Martinsville Speedway, Ridgway||Paperclip Short Track||September 26||NBC|
|52||GM Goodwrench 200||Evergreen Speedway, Monroe||Short Track||September 29||ESPN|
|53||DieHard 500||Talladega Superspeedway, Lincoln||Superspeedway (restricted)||October 3||NBC|
|54||Hollywood Casino 400||Kansas Speedway, Kansas City||Intermediate||October 10||NBC|
|55||Bank of America 500||Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord||Intermediate||October 16||NBC|
|56||AC Delco 400||Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham||Intermediate||October 24||NBC|
|57||Budweiser 400||Riverside International Raceway, Riverside||Road Course||October 31||NBC|
|58||Sprite 500||Coca-Cola Superspeedway, Denver||Superspeedway (restricted)||November 7||NBC|
|59||Atlanta Journal 500||Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton||Intermediate||November 14||NBC|
|60||Mojang 200||Willow Springs International Motorsports Park, Rosamond||Road Course||November 17||ESPN|
|61||Los Angeles Times 500||Ontario Motor Speedway, Ontario||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||November 21||NBC|