As Sam Hunt Racing prepares for their first full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series season, they now have a triumvirate of drivers that will pilot the #26 Toyota Supra, all of whom know a thing or two about road course racing. In two announcements on Tuesday and Thursday, the team revealed Brandon Gdovic and Kris Wright will race for them. Wright will make his series début and serve as their road course ringer, while Gdovic will race the ovals alongside Santino Ferrucci.
Just a year ago, Wright was supposed to continue racing in single-seaters as he geared up for a run in the Euroformula Open Championship after spending 2019 in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship. However, COVID-19 disrupted those plans and he returned to the United States to begin dabbling in stock cars. Thanks to his open-wheel résumé and success in sports cars, the latter of which included winning the 2018 IMSA Prototype Challenge LMP3 championship and a runner-up class finish in the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, he made his ARCA Menards Series West début in June at the Utah Motorsports Campus, where he finished second and third in the weekend’s doubleheader.
His road course background led him to the Camping World Truck Series as he ran the Daytona road course event in August, finishing twenty-fifth for GMS Racing. For 2021, his main driving duties will come in the series as he contests the full schedule for Young’s Motorsports.
As an Xfinity driver, Wright will run the series’ seven road course races: the Daytona RC (20 February), Circuit of the Americas (22 May), Mid-Ohio (5 June), Road America (3 July), Watkins Glen (7 August), Indianapolis RC (14 August), and the Charlotte Roval (9 October). While it will be his first time racing on these tracks in a stock car, he has experience on them in open-wheel and sports cars, including a win at Watkins Glen in the IMSA Prototype Challenge in 2017.
In 2020, Gdovic was Sam Hunt Racing’s road ringer. The 2015 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America champion ran the Indianapolis and Daytona RC events, where he respectively finished twelfth and twenty-eighth. They were his first starts in the NASCAR national series since 2015 and 2016, when his schedule was primarily ovals and his lone road race was a thirteenth at The Glen in the former year. The 28-year-old has also competed in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and IMSA, the latter of which includes the Rolex 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring.
For the 2021 season, he will once again run an oval-centric schedule as he shares the #26 on those tracks with Ferrucci, who joined the team last Friday.
Gdovic posted on Instagram, “Pretty excited to be announcing my return to @team_shr26 to start off the #NASCAR #Xfinity series season at @disupdates! Looking forward to putting the #26 in the draft and battling it out!”
The news means SHR, which has contested ten races since 2019, will have a trio of drivers with extensive road racing backgrounds. While Gdovic’s main road course experience is in sports cars and Wright’s in a balance of sports cars and open-wheel, Ferrucci climbed the European single-seater ladder before spending the last two years in the IndyCar Series.
NASCAR might be stereotyped as only having left turns and thus cast SHR’s driver lineup of road course stars in a curious light, but the sanctioning body’s three national series will feature plenty of right turns in 2021. As the Xfinity Series visits seven road courses, Wright will race on four such tracks in the Trucks while the Cup Series boasts a series record seven such dates.
Gdovic’s schedule begins with the season opener at Daytona on 13 February, followed by Wright on the superspeedway’s road course a week later. Ferrucci, who is doing the bulk of the calendar, will début at Homestead on 27 February.