After just one season, Kody Vanderwal has left Jimmy Means Racing. On Sunday, Vanderwal announced that he will not return to the team or their #52 Chevrolet Camaro for the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season due to sponsorship troubles, though he will continue racing in Super Late Models. A replacement in the car was not immediately revealed.
“As we are closing in on the start of the racing season, it is becoming apparent that Kody will not be competing in the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity series,” read a statement from Vanderwal’s PR team. “Jimmy Means had asked and wanted him to return as his driver; but after more than 3 years of trying to secure partnerships/sponsors, we have yet to obtain any full time commitments. Unfortunately, we can no longer pursue this journey without one/some and Jimmy Means Racing was forced to seek out other options. (They will be making an announcement soon) We remain incredibly grateful for the many opportunities that Kody has had thus far in his racing career and are hopeful that he can keep chasing the dream in one form or another. Stay tuned!
“As of right now, he plans to try to do a few select Super Late Model races with his new car that has been built over the last year. We appreciate each and every one of you for your ongoing support and encouragement!!”
Vanderwal joined JMR in 2020 after spending the last three years in what is now the ARCA Menards Series West, where he won two races in 2017. His Xfinity début in the series’ fourth race at Phoenix, which came shortly before COVID-19 began wreaking havoc on the season, saw him finish twenty-ninth. The 19-year-old would run every race for the rest of the season as he finished thirtieth in points with two top twenties and a best race finish of nineteenth at Pocono in June.
“Extremely thankful to Jimmy Means and everyone on the team for the opportunity last year,” Vanderwal wrote in his own statement on Twitter, where he quote tweeted the original announcement. “As well as every other opportunity I’ve had over the years. Not sure what comes next but I trust God to show me the way!”
JMR intends to continue racing on a full-time basis in 2021. Prior to Vanderwal’s début, J.J. Yeley drove the #52 in the 2020 season’s first three races, scoring a best finish of twelfth in the opener at Daytona. Means, a longtime owner/driver in the sport, has fielded rides for full-time Xfinity drivers like Joey Gase and David Starr since 2014. Gase, currently a Cup Series driver, holds the team’s best finish of fifth at Talladega in 2015.