Anthony Ballantoni

Look Ahead

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2018 Daytona 500 in 42 days

Sunday, January 7, 2018


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, follow Rotoworld NASCAR Headlines (www.rotoworld.com/headlines/nas) for the latest updates.

With 42 days to go before the 2018 NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season-opening Daytona 500, here are a few driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2018 MENCS 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: Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) No. 5 Chevrolet) - In 36 races, the Enumclaw, WA driver scored one win, three top-fives, six top-10s, had a 17.9 average start, a 19.4 average finish, led 41 laps, earned 2,198 points and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. Kahne did not advance into the Chase Round of 12 and closed out the season 15th in the standings. Kahne's best MENCS season start was third at Bristol (8/19). His best finish was the win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23rd. Kahne drove JR Motorsports' No. 88 Chevrolet in the two XFINITY Series restrictor plate races. He started ninth at Daytona (2/25), led 13 laps and finished second. He started 2nd at Talladega (5/6), led 18 laps and finished 15th.
2018: After six years and six wins, Kahne finished his run at HMS at the end of 2017. He joined Leavine Family Racing to pilot their No. 95 Chevrolet full-time in 2018. Travis Mack, former car chief on HMS' No. 88 Chevrolet, will be Kahne's crew chief. Procure, WRL General Contractors and Tommy Williams Drywall have been announced as primary sponsors. Kahne also plans on competing in 20 to 30 World of Outlaw open-wheel races driving his No. 4 Kasey Kahne Racing sprint car. In addition he is driving the No. 67 midget car in the next week's Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, OK.

2017: Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford) – In 36 races, the Las Vegas, NV driver scored one win, one pole, six top-fives, 15 top-10s, had an 11.8 average start, a 16.5 average finish, led 16 laps, earned 2,217 points and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. Busch did not advance into the Chase Round of 12 and closed out the season 14th in the standings. Busch’s best MENCS season start was the pole at Texas (11/5) and best finish was the win in the season-opening Daytona 500 (2/26).
2018: Busch will return for another season with Stewart-Haas Racing. Taking over as crew chief for the No. 41 team is Billy Scott who joined SHR in 2016 as crew chief for Danica Patrick and the No. 10 team. Monster Energy and Haas Automation will sponsor the No. 41 again this year.

2017: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford) - In 36 races, the Olive Branch, MS driver scored two wins, one pole, four top-fives, nine top-10s, had a 15.9 average start, a 17.1 average finish, led 56 laps, earned 2,222 points and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. Stenhouse also made it through the Chase Round of 12 but did not advance into the Chase Round of 8. He closed out the season 13th in the standings. His best MENCS season start was the pole at Talladega (5/7) and best finishes were the restrictor plate victories at Talladega (5/7) and Daytona (7/1).
2018: Stenhouse is signed thru 2019 to drive the No. 17 Ford. Brian Pattie will continue as crew chief for the No. 17 team. Fastenal and Fifth Third Bank have signed thru at least 2018 to be primary sponsors and SunnyD has extended thru 2019.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2017: Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing No. 39 Chevrolet) - In 33 races, the Tucker, GA driver scored one top-five, one top-10, had a 21.4 average start, a 20.8 average finish, led one lap, earned 551 points and closed out the season 15th in the standings. Sieg’s best NXS season start was eighth at Indianapolis (7/22) and best finish was second at Iowa (6/24). Sieg also made five Cup Series starts driving BK Racing's No. 23 and 83 Toyota's. His best finish was 26th at Dover (6/4).
2018: No plans yet but Sieg is the team owner of RSS Racing and will most likely field the No. 39 again this season. Also, drivers in the shared Cup Series Toyota's at BK Racing have not been named for 2018 at this time.

2017: J.J. Yeley (TriStar Motorsports No. 14 Toyota) – In 33 races, the Phoenix, AZ driver scored one top-10, had a 24.5 average start, a 20.0 average finish, led one lap, earned 588 points and closed out the season 14th in the standings. Yeley's best NXS season starts were 18th at Phoenix (3/18) and Mid-Ohio (8/12). His best finish was sixth at Iowa (7/29). He has yet to win in the NXS. Yeley also drove Tommy Baldwin Racing's No. 7 Chevrolet in four Cup races; best finish of 26th at Charlotte (5/18). In the Truck Series, he entered eight races for several teams posting a best start of 18th at Eldora (7/19) and best finish of ninth at Daytona (2/24).
2018: Yeley is still listed as driver of the TriStar No. 14 but no firm plans for this team or any other series rides at this time.

2017: Ross Chastain (JD Motorsports No. 4 Chevrolet) – In 33 races, the Alva, FL driver scored one top-five, two top-10s, had a 21.7 average start, a 19.5 average finish, led one lap, earned 595 points and closed out the season 13th in the standings. Chastain's best NXS season start was 11th at Bristol (4/22) and best finish was fourth at Iowa (6/24). He has yet to win in the NXS. Chastain made two starts in the Premium Motorsports shared-ride No. 15 Chevrolet; best finish was 20th at Dover (10/1). He also entered seven Truck Series races in the Bolen Motorsports No. 66 Silverado; best start (fifth) and finish (seventh) at Martinsville (4/1).
2018: Chastain will return for another full season in the No. 4 Chevrolet. Evan Snider will continue as crew chief. No word on sponsorship for the team at this time.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2017: Austin Wayne Self (several teams including his own) - In 18 races, the Austin, TX driver scored one top-five, two top-10s, had a 20.6 average start, a 17.1 average finish, earned 364 points and closed out the season 15th in the standings. Self’s best NCWTS season start was 15th at Texas (6/9) and best finish was second at Daytona (2/24). He has yet to win an NCWTS race. Self also drove one ARCA Racing Series race for Win-Tron Racing. He piloted the No. 33 Toyota at the Road America road course; started sixth and finished 12th.
2018: Self has been hired by Niece Motorsports to drive one of their two Chevrolet Silverados. He drove four of the 18 races last season for Al Niece. The truck number, crew chief and sponsors have yet to be announced. Self will be a teammate to Justin Fontaine (Niece's No. 45 Chevy).

2017: Stewart Friesen (Halmar Friesen No. 52 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 19 races, the Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario driver scored one pole, two top-fives, five top-10s, had a 16.4 average start, a 17.2 average finish, led 103 laps, earned 422 points and closed out the season 14th in the standings. Friesen's best NCWTS season start was the pole at Eldora (7/19) and best finish was second in the same race. He has yet to win in the NCWTS.
2018: No announced changes at this time but, since Friesen is part owner of the team, he will continue driving the No. 52 this season. NASCAR.com has picked him as one of the "Five candidates to break out in 2018: Camping World Truck Series".

2017: Cody Coughlin (ThorSport Racing No. 13 Toyota Tundra) – In 23 races, the Delaware, OH driver scored one top-five, three top-10s, had a 16.1 average start, a 15.0 average finish, led nine laps, earned 511 points and closed out the season 13th in the standings. Coughlin's best NCWTS season start was eighth at Bristol (8/16) and best finish was third at Phoenix (11/10).
2018: No announced changes to the No. 13 team. Coughlin will continue driving the truck and will bring JEGS, his family-owned sponsor, with him as well.

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
12 Ryan Blaney  Menards / REV Group / Fitzgerald Glider Kits / PPG (Now has a Charter) Ford Team Penske
13 Ty Dillon Geico / Twisted Tea Chevrolet Germain Racing
14 Clint Bowyer Mobil 1 / Rush Truck Centers / Haas Automation Ford Stewart-Haas Racing
15 ? ? Chevrolet Premium Motorsports
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fastenal / Fifth Third Bank / SunnyD Ford Roush Fenway Racing
18 Kyle Busch M&M’s / Skittles / Snickers /  Interstate Batteries Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing
19 Daniel Suarez ARRIS / Stanley / PEAK Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing
20 Erik Jones DeWalt Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing
22 Joey Logano Shell-Pennzoil / Autotrader / AAA Ford Team Penske
24 William Byron - R Liberty University / Axalta / UniFirst Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports
31 Ryan Newman Bass Pro Shops / Cabela's / Caterpillar /  Grainger / Liberty National  Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing
32 Matt DiBenedetto Can-Am Ford GoFAS Racing
33 ? ? Chevrolet Circle Sport
34 Michael McDowell Love's Travel Stops Ford Front Row Motorsports
37 Chris Buescher Scott Products / Kroger / Bush’s Beans / Kleenex / Velveeta / Natural Light Chevrolet JTG Daugherty Racing
38 David Ragan ? Ford Front Row Motorsports
41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy / Haas Automation Ford Stewart-Haas Racing
42 Kyle Larson Credit One Bank Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing
43 Darrell Wallace Jr.- R 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 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools / Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports
51 Ray Black Jr. - R ? ? 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 / Axalta Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports
95 Kasey Kahne WRL General Contractors/Procore Chevrolet Leavine Family Racing
    R - Rookie of The Year candidate    
No Charter Guarantee/Part-time/Questionable
00 Derrike Cope StarCom Chevrolet StarCom Racing
7 ? ? Chevrolet Premium Motorsports
16 ? ? Ford Roush Fenway Racing
21 Paul Menard Menards / Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford Wood Brothers Racing
23 Multiple drivers (CH) ? Toyota BK Racing
27 ? (CH) ? Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing
30 ? ? Chevrolet The Motorsports Group
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
          (CH)  Has a Charter Toyota Gaunt Brothers Racing
 Teams With An Used Charter Available for Lease/Sale
 Go Fas Racing and Front Row Motorsports


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



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