Anthony Ballantoni

Look Ahead

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Green flag for 500 in 24 days

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


During the off-season, Look Ahead gives a snapshot of where drivers finished in 2016 and what’s ahead for them in 2017. We will look at drivers who finished in the top 40 in the Sprint Cup Series (now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) in 2017) point standings and those who ended the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series standings in the top 30 in points. Since many teams have yet to firm up their 2017 plans, follow Rotoworld NASCAR Headlines for the latest updates.

With 24 days to go until the 2017 MENCS season-opening Daytona 500, here are a few of the driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2017 Cup driver/team lineups.

NASCAR Cup Series (NSCS):
2016: Kevin Harvick – Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet SS - In 36 races, the Bakersfield, CA driver scored four wins, two poles, 17 top-5s, 27 top-10s, led 1,384 laps, had an 11.7 average start, a 9.9 average finish, earned 2,289 points and made the 2016 Chase to the Sprint Cup. Harvick made it through the Round of 16 races and the Round of 12 races but was eliminated after the Round of 8 events and closed out the season eighth in the standings. He also shared the driving of JR Motorsports No. 88 Camaro with seven XFINITY Series races; two top-5s, five top-10s, best finish 2nd at Indianapolis.
Best 2016 NSCS starts: Pole – Charlotte 10/9 and Homestead 11/20
Best finishes: Win – Phoenix 3/13, Bristol 8/20, Loudon 9/25 and Kansas 10/16
Last career NSCS win: Kansas Speedway on October 16, 2016.
2017 MENCS: Harvick is contracted thru 2019 to drive the No. 4 Ford Fusion for SHR (team switched from Chevy to Ford in 2017). Crew chief Rodney Childers is also under contract to the end of this season. Primary sponsors Busch Beer (16 races) and Jimmy John’s (16 races) will return as well. Harvick will also pilot SHR’s No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza Mustang in four XFINITY Series races in 2017.

2016: Kurt Busch – Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet SS – In 36 races, the Las Vegas, NV driver scored one win, two poles, nine top-5s, 21 top-10s, led 238 laps, had a 12.1 average start, a 12.0 average finish, earned 2,296 points and made the 2016 Chase to the Sprint Cup. Busch made it through the Round of 16 races and the Round of 12 races but was eliminated after the Round of 8 events and closed out the season seventh in the standings.
Best 2016 NSCS starts: Pole – Atlanta 2/28 and Las Vegas 3/6
Best 2016 finishes: Win – Pocono 6/6
Last career NSCS win: Pocono Raceway on June 6, 2016.
2017 MENCS: Busch signed a multi-year contract to remain at SHR driving the No. 41 Ford Fusion. Tony Gibson will return as crew chief for the team. Sponsors Monster Energy, Mobil 1 and Haas Automation will cover expenses on the No. 41 again this season.

2016: Denny Hamlin – Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota Camry - In 36 races, the Chesterfield, VA driver scored three wins, one pole, 12 top-5s, 22 top-10s, led 524 laps, had a 6.3 average start, an 11.8 average finish, earned 2,320 points and made the 2016 Chase to the Sprint Cup. Hamlin made it through the Round of 16 races and the Round of 12 races but was eliminated after the Round of 8 events and closed out the season sixth in the standings. He drove JGR’s No. 18 Toyota in two XFINITY Series races. At the Charlotte race, he started 3rd and won the race. Hamlin started and finished 2nd in the Darlington NXS event.
Best 2016 NSCS start: Pole – Richmond 9/10
Best 2016 finishes: Win – Daytona 2/21, Watkins Glen 8/7 and Richmond 9/10
Last career NSCS win: Richmond International Raceway on September 10, 2016.
2017 MENCS: Hamlin is contracted through 2017 to drive the JGR No. 11 Camry. Talks are going on about a contract extension. Primary sponsors FedEx and Sports Clip will return as well as crew chief Mike Wheeler.

2016: Matt Kenseth – Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry - In 36 races, the Cambridge, WI driver scored two wins, one pole, eight top-5s, 19 top-10s, led 948 laps, had a 9.6 average start, a 13.8 average finish, earned 2,330 points and made the 2016 Chase to the Sprint Cup. Kenseth made it through the Round of 16 races and the Round of 12 races but was eliminated after the Round of 8 events and closed out the season fifth in the standings.
Best 2016 NSCS start: Pole – Kansas 10/16
Best 2016 finishes: Win – Dover 5/15 and Loudon 7/17
Last career NSCS win: New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2016.
2017 MENCS: Kenseth has a contract with JGR to drive the No. 20 Toyota thru the 2017 season. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff will return to lead the team. Dollar General, Kenseth’s sponsor in previous years, has decided not to return in 2017. DeWalt will return and cover around half the season. No other changes to the team announced at this time.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2016: Ryan Reed – Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford Mustang - In 33 races, the Bakersfield, CA driver scored one top-5, seven top-10s, led eight laps, had a 14.3 average start, a 15.6 average finish, earned 2,205 points and made the 2016 NXS Chase. He made it through the Round of 12 races but was eliminated after the Round of 8 events and closed out the season sixth in the standings. Reed entered the October Talladega Sprint Cup race driving RFR’s No. 99 Ford Fusion; started 18th, completed all 192 laps run and finished in 26th place. He also entered one ARCA Racing Series race (at Pocono) driving Lira Motorsports No. 38 Ford; qualified 19th, finished 12th.
Best 2016 NXS start: 3rd – Phoenix 11/12
Best 2016 finish: 5th – Road America 8/27
Last career NXS win: Daytona Int’l Speedway on February 21, 2015.
2017: Reed will continue to drive the RFR No. 16 Mustang. Sponsorship from the American Diabetes Association has been extended for multiple years. Crew chief Phil Gould will return to lead the team.

2016: Ty Dillon – Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro – In 33 races, the Lewisville, NC driver scored one pole, nine top-5s, 17 top-10s, led 212 laps, had a 9.2 average start, a 10.5 average finish, earned 2,214 points and made the 2016 NXS Chase. After the Round of 12 races, Dillon was eliminated and closed out the season fifth in the standings. He also made 11 Sprint Cup starts for three teams (Stewart-Haas Racing, Levine Family Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing). His best Cup finish was sixth at Talladega filling in for injured Tony Stewart (Stewart qualified the car, Dillon jumped in as the relief driver in the SHR No. 14 Chevrolet at the first caution).
Best 2016 NXS start: Pole – Daytona 2/20
Best 2016 finishes: 2nd – Richmond 4/23, Iowa 6/19, Iowa 7/30 Dover 10/2 and Homestead 11/19
Last career NXS win: Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014.
2017: Dillon will take over the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet SS in the MENCS for the 2017 season. GEICO will continue as primary sponsor on the No. 13. Twisted Tea has signed up as an additional primary sponsor in select races. Dillon has also committed to pilot his grandfather’s (Richard Childress) No. 3 Twisted Tea Chevrolet Camaro in 20 XFINITY Series races in 2017 with other drivers filling in to cover the car for the full NXS season.

2016: Erik Jones – Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry – In 33 races, the Byron, MI driver scored four wins, eight poles, 15 top-5s, 20 top-10s, led 627 laps, had a 3.1 average start, an 11.6 average finish, earned 4,032 points and made the 2016 NXS Chase. He made it through the Round of 12, Round of 8 and into the season-finale Chase Championship 4. After a ninth-place finish at Homestead-Miami, Jones closed out the season fourth in the standings. Jones also drove the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota Tundra in the truck race at Gateway; started 17th and finished fifth.
Best 2016 NXS starts: Pole – Phoenix 3/12, Bristol 4/16, Richmond 4/23, Charlotte 5/28, Pocono 6/4, Iowa 6/19, Bristol 8/19, Kentucky 9/24 and Dover 10/2.
Best 2016 finishes: Win – Bristol 4/16, Dover 5/14, Iowa 7/3 and Chicago 9/17
Last career NXS win: Chicagoland Speedway on September 17, 2016.
2017: In October 2016, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team owner Furniture Row Racing announced a second team, partnering Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota Camry. Erik Jones was named the driver of the No. 77 Five Hour Energy Toyota full-time in the MENCS. Chris Gayle will lead the No. 77 team as crew chief. Jones may still run some XFINITY Series races in the JGR No. 20 Camry this season.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2016: Daniel HemricBrad Keselowski Racing No. 19 Ford F-150 - In 23 races, the Kannapolis, NC driver scored 11 top-5s, 17 top-10s, led 119 laps, had an 11.2 average start, an 8.6 average finish, earned 2,163 points and made the 2016 NCWTS Chase. After the Round of 8 races, he was eliminated and closed out the season sixth in the standings.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: 2nd – Texas 11/4
Best 2016 finishes: 2nd – Chicago 9/16 and Las Vegas 10/1
Last career NCWTS win: None so far.
2017: Hemric parted ways with BKR at the end of 2016 and moved up to the XFINITY Series. Richard Childress Racing announced that Hemric will pilot the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro full-time in the NXS. Two-time NASCAR championship winning crew chief Danny Stockman will work with Hemric as he competes for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors and the XFINITY Series driver championship.

2016: William ByronKyle Busch Motorsports No. 9 Toyota Tundra – In 23 races, the Charlotte, NC driver scored seven wins, three poles, 11 top-5s, 16 top-10s, led 727 laps, had a 5.6 average start, a 9.2 average finish, earned 2,199 points and made the 2016 NCWTS Chase. Byron made it through the Round of 8 races but was eliminated after the Round of 6 events and closed out the season fifth in the standings. Byron also claimed Rookie of the Year honors in the NCWTS. Venturini Motorsports put Byron in their ARCA Racing Series entries at Daytona and Pocono; finished second and eighth, respectively.
Best 2016 NCWTS starts: Pole – Loudon 9/24, Phoenix 11/11 and Homestead 11/18
Best 2016 finishes: Win – Kansas 5/6, Texas 6/10, Iowa 6/18, Kentucky 7/7, Pocono 7/30, Loudon 9/24 and Homestead 11/18
Last career NCWTS win: Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2016.
2017: Byron will move up to the XFINITY Series driving a partial season (17 of the 33 events) in the JR Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro. Long-time sponsor Liberty University will follow Byron to his new ride. Dave Elenz will be crew chief for the No. 9 team.

2016: Timothy Peters – Red Horse Racing No. 17 Toyota Tundra - In 23 races, the Providence, NC driver scored one pole, eight top-5s, 16 top-10s, led 105 laps, had an 11.5 average start, a 9.1 average finish, earned 4,024 points and made the 2016 NCWTS Chase. He made it through the Round of 8, Round of 6 and into the season-finale Chase Championship 4.  After a ninth-place finish at Homestead-Miami, Peters closed out the season fourth in the standings. He also entered one CARS Late Model Stock Tour race at Orange County (NC) Speedway in Nelson Motorsports No. 12B Toyota. He started on the pole, led 40 laps and won the 150-lap event.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: Pole – Las Vegas 10/1
Best 2016 finish: 2nd – Michigan 8/27
Last career NCWTS win: Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2015.
2017: Peters will return for another full season driving the RHR No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra. At this time, RHR’s web site shows a blank (to be determined) entry for the 2017 team No. 17 crew chief.

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Lineup full-time teams

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

1

Jamie McMurray

Cessna/McDonald’s/GearWrench

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

2

Brad Keselowski

Miller Lite/Alliance Truck Parts/Wurth/Autotrader

Ford

Team Penske

3

Austin Dillon

Dow//Bass Pro Shops/American Ethanol/AAA

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

4

Kevin Harvick

Busch Beer/Jimmie Johns/Mobil 1

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

5

Kasey Kahne

Farmers Insurance/Great Clips/LiftMaster/Quicken Loans/ Panasonic/Mountain Dew/AARP/UniFirst

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

6

Trevor Bayne

AdvoCare/Liberty National/ Performance Plus

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

10

Danica Patrick

Nature’s Bakery/Aspen Dental/ TaxACT/Mobil 1/Code 3 Assoc.

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

11

Denny Hamlin

FedEx/Sport Clips

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

13

Ty Dillon *

Geico/Twisted Tea

Chevrolet

Germain Racing

14

Clint Bowyer

Haas Automation/Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Fastenal/Fifth Third Bank/SunnyD

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

18

Kyle Busch

M&M’s/Skittles/Interstate Batteries

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

19

Daniel Suarez *

Arris/Stanley/Sport Clips/Subway

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

20

Matt Kenseth

DeWalt

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

21

Ryan Blaney

Motorcraft/Quick Lane/SKF

Ford

Wood Brothers Racing

22

Joey Logano

Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader/AAA

Ford

Team Penske

23

Joey Gase

Best Home Furnishings (3 races)

Toyota

BK Racing

23

Gray Gaulding *

? (33 races)

Toyota

BK Racing

24

Chase Elliott

NAPA Auto Parts/3M/Kelley Blue Book/Mountain Dew/SunEnergy1/Hooters

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

27

Paul Menard

Menards

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

31

Ryan Newman

Caterpillar/Grainger

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

32

Matt DiBenedetto

Can-Am/Keen Parts/Visone RV

Ford

GoFAS Racing

33

Jeffrey Earnhardt

Starter

Chevrolet

Circle Sport w/TMG

34

Landon Cassill

Love’s Travel Stops/Taco Bell

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

37

Chris Buescher

Scott Products/Cottonelle Mega

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

38

David Ragan

Taco Bell

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

41

Kurt Busch

Monster Energy/Haas Automation/Mobil 1

 

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

42

Kyle Larson

Target/CreditOne

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

43

Aric Almirola

Smithfield Foods/U.S. Air Force/Fresh From Florida

Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports

47

AJ Allmendinger

Kroger/Scott Products/ Kingsford Charcoal/Bush’s Baked Beans

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

48

Jimmie Johnson

Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

77

Erik Jones *

5-Hour Energy

Toyota

Furniture Row Racing

78

Martin Truex Jr.

Furniture Row/Denver Mattresses/Bass Pro Shops/5-Hour Energy/Auto-Owners Insurance/WIX Filters

Toyota

Furniture Row Racing

83

Corey LaJoie

Dustless Blasting (14 races)

Toyota

BK Racing

83

Gray Gaulding *

? (2 races)

Toyota

BK Racing

88

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Nationwide/Axalta Coatings/Diet Mountain Dew

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

95

Michael McDowell

?

Chevrolet

Leavine Family Racing

 

 

* Rookie of The Year candidate

 

 

Part-time/Questionable teams

7

Elliott Sadler **

Golden Corral(Daytona 500 only)

Chevrolet

Tommy Baldwin Racing

16

**

 

 

Roush Fenway Racing

30

**

???

Chevrolet

The Motorsports Group

44

**

 

 

Richard Petty Motorsports

51

Timmy Hill **

?  (Daytona 500 only)

Chevrolet

Rick Ware Racing

55

Reed Sorenson **

?

Toyota

Premium Motorsports

96

D.J. Kennington **

Castrol/Lordco Auto Parts (Daytona 500 only)

Toyota

Gaunt Brothers Racing

 

 

 ** No Charter

 

 

 



Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at RotoWorld.com.
Email :Anthony Ballantoni



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