Anthony Ballantoni

Look Ahead

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2018 Daytona 500 in 76 days

Monday, December 4, 2017


During the off-season, Look Ahead gives a snapshot of where drivers finished in 2017 and what’s ahead for them in 2018. We will look at drivers who finished in the top 30 in points for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. Since many teams have yet to firm up their 2018 plans, we will include updates in future columns.

With 76 days to go until the 2018 NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, here are a few driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2018 Cup Driver/Team lineups. Teams listed as full-time plan on running all 36 events and have a NASCAR Charter guaranteeing a start in each race.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS):
2017
: David Ragan (Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford) - In 36 races, the Unadilla, GA driver led four laps, scored three top-10s, had a 29.0 average start, a 24.9 average finish, earned 447 points and closed out the season 30th in the standings. Ragan’s best MENCS season start was 19th at Bristol (8/19) and best finish was sixth at Daytona (7/1). His last MENCS win was May 5, 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway.
2018: No firm plans for 2018. Ragan will likely return to the No. 38.

2017: Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford) – Almirola missed seven races due to injuries sustained in a crash in May at Kansas Speedway. In 29 races, the Tampa, FL driver led two laps, scored three top-5s, six top-10s, had a 22.4 average start, an 18.8 average finish, earned 502 points and closed out the season 29th in the standings. Almirola’s best MENCS season start was 10th at Martinsville (10/29) and best finishes were fourth at Daytona (2/26) and Talladega (5/7). His last win was July 6, 2014 at Daytona. Almirola also drove the No. 98 Ford in five XFINITY Series races with a best finish of the win at Talladega on May 6th.
2018: Almirola has been hired by Stewart-Haas Racing to replace Danica Patrick in the No. 10 Ford. Smithfield will follow Almirola as the primary sponsor. Billy Scott will continue as crew chief on the No. 10.

2017: Danica Patrick (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford) - In 36 races, the Roscoe, IL driver led seven laps, scored one top-10, had a 22.1 average start, a 23.8 average finish, earned 511 points and closed out the season 28th in the standings. Patrick’s best MENCS season start was 10th at Dover (6/4) and best finish was sixth at Sonoma (6/25).
2018: Patrick’s 2018 schedule is undecided at this time. She will no longer drive the SHR No. 10 and does not have a ride for 2018. If she can secure a ride, Patrick will be entering the NASCAR Daytona 500, then the Indy 500 (IndyCar Series) and, unless something changes, she plans to retire from racing.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2017: Dylan Lupton (JGL Racing No. 24 Toyota) - In 14 races, the Wilton, CA driver led five laps, had a 24.6 average start, a 22.9 average finish, earned 197 points and closed out the season 30th in the standings. Lupton’s best NXS season start was 15th at Mid-Ohio (8/12) and best finish was 12th at Richmond (4/29).
2018: Lupton does not have any firm plans at this time. He may return to JGL Racing and share the ride of the No. 24 (will be a Ford in 2018) with other drivers as he did in 2017.

2017: Ryan Preece (Joe Gibbs Racing Nos. 18 and 20 Toyota) – In four races, the Berlin, CT driver scored one win, one pole, led 165 laps, had a 3.5 average start, a 3.0 average finish, earned 202 points and closed out the season 29th in the standings. Preece’s best NXS season start was the pole at Iowa (7/29) and best finish was the win in the same race.  He was a regular in the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour where he made 14 starts, collected one pole, five wins and finished the season sixth in the points,  He also made one start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
2018: Preece is scheduled to run in at least 10 NXS races in the JGR No. 18 Toyota, sharing the ride with Kyle Busch and other JGR drivers. He will most likely continue driving the Whelen Modified car as well.

2017: Casey Mears (Biagi-DenBeste No. 98 Ford) – In 14 races, the Bakersfield, CA driver scored two top-10s, had a 22.4 average start, a 20.3 average finish, earned 242 points and closed out the season 28th in the standings. Mears’ best NXS season start was 12th at Homestead (11/18) and best finishes were seventh at Richmond (4/29) and Road America (8/27). His last NXS win was at Chicago on July 8, 2006.
2018: Biagi-DenBeste has partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing to run the NXS No. 98 Ford in 2018. Cup driver Kevin Harvick will ride-share the car and Mears may (or may not .. nothing confirmed) drive some of the other races.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2017: Tyler Young (Young’s Motorsports  Nos. 02 and 20 Chevrolet Silverado) – In eight races, the Midland, TX driver scored one top-10, had an 18.5 average start, an 18.0 average finish, earned 152 points and closed out the season 30th in the standings. Young’s best NCWTS season start was 13th at Texas (11/3) and best finish was 10th at Talladega (10/14).
2018: No plans in place at this time for Young. The team has hired Austin Hill to drive the No. 02 Silverado full-time in 2018.

2017: Harrison Burton (Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota Tundra) – In six races, the Huntersville, NC driver scored one top-five, one top-10, had a 12.8 average start, a 12.3  average finish, earned 162 points and closed out the season 29th in the standings. Burton’s best NCWTS season start was seventh at Martinsville (4/1) and best finish was fourth at Martinsville (10/28). The 16 year-old son of former Cup driver Jeff Burton ran full-time (14 races) in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East earning the 2017 series championship after picking up five wins and 14 top-10 finishes. Burton also entered one race in the ARCA Racing Series (Toledo) and one CARS Super Late Model (Concord). He won both events.
2018: No firm plans announced at this time but Burton will likely drive one of Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra’s again in 2018. Also, no plans announced at this time in the K&N Series, but he will probably return to the No. 12 Toyota in that series to defend his title.

2017: Joe Nemechek (NEMCO Motorsports No. 83 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 16 races, the Naples, FL driver scored one top-five, one top-10, had a 21.8 average start, a 26.9 average finish, earned 166 points and closed out the season 28th in the standings. He also entered two XFINITY Series races for JD Motorsports with a best finish of 27th at Homestead. Nemechek’s best NCWTS season start was ninth at Daytona (2/24) and best finish was fifth in the same race.
2018: No plans announced at this time but, since most of the 16 races he entered in 2017 were “start-and-park” efforts in support of the main NEMCO team truck (son John Hunter’s No. 8 Chevy), Nemechek is expected to continue doing this in 2018.

Tentative 2018 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/Discount Tire/Alliance Truck Parts/Wurth

Ford

Team Penske

3

Austin Dillon

Dow/American Ethanol/AAA

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

4

Kevin Harvick

Busch Beer/Jimmie Johns/

Mobil 1

Ford

Stewart  Haas Racing

6

Trevor Bayne

AdvoCare/Liberty National

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

9

Chase Elliott

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

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

10

Aric Almirola

Smithfield

Ford

Stewart Haas Racing

11

Denny Hamlin

FedEx/Sport Clips

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

13

Ty Dillon

Geico/Geico Military/Twisted Tea

Chevrolet

Germain Racing

14

Clint Bowyer

Haas Automation

Ford

Stewart Haas Racing

15

?

?

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Fastenal/Fifth Third Bank/

SunnyD/Ford EcoBoost

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

18

Kyle Busch

M&M’s/Skittles/Pedigree Dog Food/

Interstate Batteries

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

19

Daniel Suarez

Arris/Stanley

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

20

Erik Jones

?

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

22

Joey Logano

Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader/AAA

Ford

Team Penske

24 *

William Byron

Liberty University/Axalta/UniFirst

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

27

?

?

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

31

Ryan Newman

Caterpillar

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

32

Matt DiBenedetto

Can-Am

Ford

GoFAS Racing

33

Jeffrey Earnhardt

?

Chevrolet

Circle Sport

34

?

?

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

37

Chris Buescher

Scott Products/Kroger/Bush’s Beans/Kleenex/Natural Light

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

38

?

?

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

41

? Kurt Busch

?

 

Ford

Stewart Haas Racing

42

Kyle Larson

Credit One Bank

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

43 *

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Click n’ Close/Smithfield Foods/U.S. Air Force/STP

?

Richard Petty Motorsports

47

AJ Allmendinger

Kroger/Scott Products/ Kingsford Charcoal/Bush’s Baked Beans/Louisiana Hot Sauce

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

48

Jimmie Johnson

Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools/Jimmie Johnson Foundation

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

51

Ray Black Jr.

?

?

Rick Ware Racing

78

Martin Truex Jr.

Furniture Row/Bass Pro Shops/5-Hour Energy/Auto Owners Insurance

Toyota

Furniture Row Racing

88

Alex Bowman

Nationwide Insurance

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

95

Kasey Kahne

WRL General Contractors

Chevrolet

Leavine Family Racing-Circle Sport

 

 

* Rookie of The Year candidate

 

 

No Charter Guarantee/Part-time/Questionable

7**

?

?

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

12**

Ryan Blaney

Menards/REV Group/Fitzgerald Glider Kits/PPG

Ford

Team Penske

16

?

?

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

21**

Paul Menard

Menards/Motorcraft/Quick Lane

Ford

Wood Brothers Racing

23

Multiple drivers

?

Toyota

BK Racing

44

?

?

?

Richard Petty Motorsports

52**

Multiple drivers

?

?

Rick Ware Racing

55**

?

?

Chev/Toyota

Premium Motorsports

66**

David Starr

Eureka Vacuums

Chevrolet

MBM Motorsports

66**

Mark Thompson

Phoenix Air (Daytona only)

Ford

MBM Motorsports

72**

Cole Whitt

?

?

TriStar Motorsports

75**

Brendan Gaughan

Beard Oil/TSS Logistics

Chevrolet

Beard Motorsports

77**

?

?

?

Furniture Row Racing

83**

Multiple drivers

?

Toyota

BK Racing

96**

?

?

Toyota

Gaunt Brothers Racing

 

 

 ** No Charter Guarantee

 

 

 Teams With An Used Charter Available for Lease/Sale

 Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Go Fas Racing and Front Row Motorsports

 



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



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