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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

NASCAR 101: Active Drivers With the Most (& Least) Team Owners

Once again, NASCAR Silly Season is in full bloom. We’ve got retirements and alignments, sponsorships and ownerships, hirings and firings and, of course, Matt DiBenedetto.

This annual late-summer/early-fall tradition is filled with nerves, excitement and surprises. On the note of surprises, Paul Menard joins David Ragan as the second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver to announce their departure from full-time competition at season’s end following his sudden retirement announcement made on Sept. 10.

While Menard’s current ride has already been filled by another driver for 2020, Ragan’s seat has not, which makes the Bob Jenkins-owned No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford arguably the biggest open ride left to be filled next season. A total of 37 drivers have wheeled an FRM car, but that number will likely go up by one with an acquisition of a driver from a different team.

While Jenkins has had his fair share of competitors fill his seats, 60 drivers have made at least one start for a combined total of 21 team owners in 2019 as of this writing. Jenkins has been able to call three of those five dozen individuals his drivers. However, thanks to the silly seasons throughout the years, these 60 drivers have averaged around four MENCS team owners throughout their cup careers.

But who currently has had the most owners in their career so far?

Well, up until a few weeks ago, that honor went solely to part-time driver Reed Sorenson. Thanks to his start earlier this season with Spire Motorsports at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sorenson has amassed rides with 16 car owners. Yes, that’s 16.

Just for the record, the 33-year-old has tallied starts for Chip Ganassi Racing, Phoenix Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Braun Racing, Team Red Bull, Robby Gordon Motorsports, Turn One Racing, FAS Lane Racing, Humphrey Smith Racing, Leavine Family Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing, Team Xtreme, Front Row Motorsports, Premium Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing and Spire Motorsports. Not to be outdone, Sorenson has attempted to qualify for other MENCS events for two additional teams.

Although the Georgia driver has competed every year since 2005, Sorenson has only driven full time for five seasons. The remaining seasons have been filled wheeling part-time rides for various car owners.

However, Sorenson’s mark was just tied at Darlington Raceway, when Joe Nemechek strapped behind the wheel of Premium Motorsports’ No. 27 Chevrolet. Since making his first start for his own team back in 1993, Nemechek has taken rides for 16 teams, including the likes of Hendrick Motorsports, Team SABCO (now Chip Ganassi Racing) and Furniture Row Racing.

Sitting two back of Sorenson and Nemechek is JJ Yeley, who has driven for 14 teams. Finally, at fourth on the list is the first current full-time driver: Michael McDowell. While McDowell has bounced around from team to team in some of the smaller organizations in the NASCAR garage, one of the 34-year-old’s 10 car owners was Joe Gibbs. McDowell’s lone start for Gibbs came in 2011 at Texas Motor Speedway after the suspension of Kyle Busch for one event.

Landon Cassill and Aric Almirola are the next full-time drivers on the list. Cassill has driven for nine organizations, while Almirola has competed for seven.

Menard and Kurt Busch sit at six owners apiece. Interestingly, Busch’s six were all full-time rides, the most out of any active driver.

On the flip side, 15 active drivers have made starts for just one team in their careers. Jimmie Johnson leads the way with the most. Johnson’s 641 starts since 2001 have all come for Hendrick Motorsports. Like Johnson, Denny Hamlin has not been a part of the silly season before. Since 2005, Hamlin has driven for just one team: Joe Gibbs Racing.

Chase Elliott, William Byron, Daniel Hemric, Bubba Wallace, Matt Tifft and Ross Chastain are the remaining full-time drivers who have competed for just one organization.

Here is the complete list of drivers and team owners:

DriverNumber of Team Owners
Reed Sorenson*16
Joe Nemechek*16
JJ Yeley*14
Michael McDowell10
Landon Cassill9
Timmy Hill*8
Aric Almirola7
Casey Mears*7
Jeffrey Earnhardt*7
Kurt Busch6
Paul Menard6
Joey Gase*6
Brendan Gaughan*6
Martin Truex Jr.5
Ty Dillon5
David Ragan5
Jamie McMurray**5
Stanton Barrett*5
Gray Gaulding*5
Clint Bowyer4
Ryan Newman4
Austin Dillon4
Corey Lajoie4
Garrett Smithley*4
Joey Logano3
Brad Keselowski3
Alex Bowman3
Matt DiBenedetto3
Jeb Burton*3
DJ Kennington*3
Kyle Busch2
Kevin Harvick2
Kyle Larson2
Erik Jones2
Ryan Blaney2
Daniel Suarez2
Chris Buescher2
Ricky Stenhouse Jr2
Ryan Preece2
Quin Houff*2
BJ McLeod*2
Cody Ware*2
Parker Kligerman*2
Kyle Weatherman*2
Ryan Sieg*2
Denny Hamlin1
Chase Elliott1
William Byron1
Jimmie Johnson1
Daniel Hemric1
Bubba Wallace1
Matt Tifft1
Austin Theriault*1
Andy Seuss*1
Ross Chastain1
Bayley Currey*1
Josh Bilciki*1
Justin Haley*1
Tyler Reddick*1
Spencer Boyd*1

*Designates a driver currently competing part-time

**Although currently retired, Jamie McMurray did start this year’s Daytona 500, thus making him an active driver this season.

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About Zach Gillispie

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A lifelong race fan, Zach Gillispie joined Frontstretch fresh out of high school in the summer of 2018 as a news writer. In addition, Zach coordinates Frontstretch's industry-wide weekly power rankings column. Originally from Charlotte, NC, he resides in western PA with his family. He currently attends Grove City College and is a die-hard fan of the Atlanta Braves. Follow Zach on Twitter @gillispie_zach

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