Anthony Ballantoni

Look Ahead

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Look Ahead: Daytona in 70 days

Sunday, December 10, 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 70 days to go before 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: AJ Allmendinger (JTG-Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet) - In 36 races, the Los Gatos, CA driver led seven laps, scored one top-five, five top-10s, had a 23.9 average start, a 22.0 average finish, earned 531 points and closed out the season 27th in the standings. Allmendinger's best MENCS season start was fifth at Sonoma (6/25) and best finish was third at Daytona (2/26). His last MENCS win was August, 10, 2014 at Watkins Glen.
2018: Allmendinger is contracted thru 2020 to drive the No. 47 Chevy. Ernie Cope continues as crew chief as well as all 2017 sponsors.

2017: Michael McDowell (Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet) – In 36 races, the Phoenix, AZ driver led 10 laps, scored one top-5, one top-10, had a 23.9 average start, a 22.2 average finish, earned 542 points and closed out the season 26th in the standings. McDowell’s best MENCS season start was 11th at Pocono (6/11) and best finish was fourth at Daytona (7/1). He has yet to score a win in the MENCS.
2018: No current plans in place for Michael McDowell. Kasey Kahne (formerly in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet) has been hired to drive LFR's No. 95 Chevrolet in 2018.

2017: Chris Buescher (JTG-Daugherty Racing No. 37 Chevrolet) - In 36 races, the Prosper, TX driver led five laps, scored four top-10s, had a 25.3 average start, a 21.4 average finish, earned 564 points and closed out the season 25th in the standings. Buescher’s best MENCS season start was ninth at Sonoma (6/25) and best finishes were sixth at Michigan (8/13) and Kansas (10/22). His last MENCS win was on August 1, 2016 at Pocono Raceway.
2018: Buescher is contracted thru 2019 to drive the No. 37 Chevrolet. Trent Owens will continue as crew chief as well as all 2017 sponsors.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2017: Ray Black Jr. (SS Green Light Racing No. 07 Chevrolet) - In 21 races, the Palm Coast, FL driver led two laps, had a 30.5 average start, a 25.6 average finish, earned 245 points and closed out the season 27th in the standings. Black’s best NXS season start was 31st at Phoenix (3/18) and best finish was 12th at Daytona (6/30). Black also debuted in the Cup Series in 2017. He piloted the Rick Ware Racing (RWR) No. 51 Chevrolet in three events.
2018: No plans have been announced for the No. 07 for the upcoming NXS season. Black has been tapped to move up to run full-time in the MENCS driving the RWR No. 51 Chevrolet (may be a Ford or Toyota). Crew chief and sponsors have not been announced at this time.

2017: B.J. McLeod (B.J. McLeod Racing Nos. 8 and 78 Chevrolet) – In 25 races, the Wauchula, FL driver led one lap, had a 29.3 average start, a 27.2 average finish, earned 247 points and closed out the season 26th in the standings. McLeod’s best NXS season start was 22nd at Texas (11/4) and best finish was 11th at Daytona (6/30). McLeod also drove the No. 51 Chevy for Rick Ware Racing (RWR) in eight MENCS races (best finish of 33rd at Charlotte).
2018: McLeod is tentatively scheduled to drive a support team entry for Ray Black Jr.'s No. 51 RWR team, most likely the No. 52. He will share that car with a couple of other drivers in 8 to 10 races. No plans announced at this time for the XFINITY Series No. 8 and 78 Chevrolets in 2018.

2017: David Starr (B.J. McLeod Motorsports No. 99 Chevrolet Ford) – In 33 races, the Houston, TX driver scored one top-five, one top-10, had a 32.8 average start, a 27.8 average finish, earned 315 points and closed out the season 25th in the standings. Starr's best NXS season start was 22nd at Richmond (4/29) and best finish was fifth at Daytona (6/30). Starr also drove the MBM Motorsports No. 66 in three MENSC races; best finish was 28th at Phoenix (11/23).
2018: Plans are in place for Starr to run in the Cup Series driving the MBM No. 66 Eureka Vacuums Chevrolet. He is scheduled to run full-time, except for Daytona. Mark Thompson will drive the No. 66 (as a Ford) in the season-opener. No word at this time on any XFINITY Series races for Starr next season.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2017: Todd Gilliland (Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota Tundra) – In six races, the Sherrills Ford, NC driver scored two top-5s, three top-10s, had a 9.2 average start, an 11.2 average finish, earned 178 points and closed out the season 27th in the standings. Gilliland’s best NCWTS season start was fourth at Gateway (6/17) and best finish was third at Loudon (9/23). He competed full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West (14 races each) in 2017. In the K&N East schedule, Gilliland scored four wins, one pole, 13 top-10s and finished second in the series championship. In the K&N West, he scored six wins, seven poles (including a series record setting five consecutive), 13 top-10s and secured his second consecutive series championship.
2018: KBM has yet to release the driver lineup for their Tundras but Gilliland will probably run at least a few races for the organization.

2017: Parker Kligerman (Henderson Motorsports No. 75 Toyota Tundra) – In seven races, the Westport, CT driver led five laps, scored one win, one top-five, five top-10s, had a 14.1 average start, a 12.3 average finish, earned 184 points and closed out the season 26th in the standings. Kligerman’s best NCWTS season start was fourth at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (9/3) and best finish was the win at Talladega (10/14). He made one start on 8/7 in the XFINITY Series; finished 10th driving the Precision Performance Motorsports No. 46 Chevrolet at the Road America road course. Kligerman has also been working for the NBC Sports Network as a NASCAR analyst and a Pit Reporter for select races.
2018: No firm plans announced at this time but, besides continuing his work with NBC Sports, Kligerman will run partial schedules in the NCWTS and XFINITY Series.

2017: Jennifer Jo Cobb (Jennifer Jo Cobb No. 10 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 18 races, the Kansas City, KS driver had a 28.7 average start, a 24.7 average finish, earned 221 points and closed out the season 25th in the standings. She also entered the annual XFINITY Series race at her hometown track, Kansas Speedway (10/21); finished 35th. Cobb's best NCWTS season start was 22nd at Kentucky (7/6) and best finishes were 18th at Pocono (7/29) and Las Vegas (9/30).
2018: No plans announced at this time but, unless something changes, Cobb will repeat her 2017 schedule in the NCWTS (full-time in her No. 10 Chevy truck) and include a home-town stop at Kansas City for the XFINITY Series event.

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

Chevrolet

Richard Petty Motorsports

47

AJ Allmendinger

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

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

48

Jimmy 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

?

?

Chevrolet

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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