Anthony Ballantoni

Look Ahead

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Daytona 500 in just 12 days

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


During the off-season, Look Ahead gives a snapshot of where drivers finished in 2017 and what’s ahead for them in 2018. The haulers, loaded with the 2018 Cup cars and team equipment, will be arriving at Daytona International Speedway this coming Friday, February 9th. This will be the final look at drivers who finished in the top three in points for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. Teams listed as full-time in the tentative list plan on running all 36 MENCS events and have a NASCAR Charter guaranteeing a start in each race.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS):
2017: Kevin Harvick - Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) No. 4 Ford - In 36 races, the Bakersfield, CA driver scored 2 wins, 4 poles, 14 top-5s, 23 top-10s, had an 8.8 average start, an 11.1 average finish, led 850 laps and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He continued through the Chase Round of 12, the Round of 8 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Harvick's 4th place finish was 3rd-highest of the four drivers and he closed out the season 3rd in the standings. His best MENCS season starts were the poles at Atlanta 3/5, Texas 4/9, Charlotte 5/28 and Darlington 9/3. His best finishes were the victories at Sonoma 6/25 and Texas 11/5. He drove the Jerry Pitts No. 4 Ford in the NASCAR K&N West road race at Sonoma the day before his June MENCS victory. He won the K&N West race as well. Harvick also piloted the shared SHR No. 41 Ford in six XFINITY Series races. He scored 5 top-5s and a 6th place; averaging a 3.7 finish.
2018: Harvick is contracted through 2019 to drive the SHR No. 4 Ford. Rodney Childers continues as crew chief for the team. Sponsors Busch Beer, Jimmy Johns and Mobil 1 return as well. SHR and Biagi-DenBeste formed a partnership to field the No. 98 Ford in the XFINITY Series. Harvick will ride-share this entry in five races with Hunt Brothers Pizza sponsorship.

2017: Kyle Busch - Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 Toyota – In 36 races, the Las Vegas, NV driver scored 5 wins, 8 poles, 14 top-5s, 22 top-10s, had a 7.2 average start, an 11.5 average finish, led 2,023 laps and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He continued through the Chase Round of 12, the Round of 8 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Busch's 2nd place finish was 2nd-highest of the four drivers and he closed out the season runner-up in the standings. His best MENCS season starts were the poles at Dover 6/4, Pocono 6/11, Kentucky 7/8, Indianapolis 7/23, Pocono 7/30, Watkins Glen 8/6, Chicago 9/17 and Loudon 9/24. His best finishes were the victories at Pocono 7/30, Bristol 8/19, Loudon 9/24, Dover 10/1 and Martinsville 10/29. Busch also drove the shared JGR No. 18 Toyota in 10 XFINITY Series earning 7 poles, 5 wins and a 3.4 average finish. He piloted his own Toyota Tundras in seven Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) races picking up 1 pole, 3 victories and a 9.0 average finish. Busch won the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All Star race at Charlotte on May 20th. He was also the winner of the 2017 Snowball Derby on December 3rd at Five Flags Speedway in Florida.
2018: Busch is contracted through at least 2019 to drive the JGR No. 18 Toyota. Adam Stevens continues as crew chief. M&M's will also return through 2019 as primary sponsor as well as Interstate Batteries. Busch is signed up for seven races in JGR's No. 18 XFINITY Series shared entry. He is again driving the KBM Tundras in five NCWTS events. On Saturday afternoon (Feb. 3, 2018), Busch started his season early, with a victory driving his own No. 51 entry in the 300-lap Super Late Model Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park in California.

2017: Martin Truex Jr. - Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota - In 36 races, the Mayetta, NJ driver scored 8 wins, 3 poles, 19 top-5s, 26 top-10s, had a 6.8 average start, a 9.4 average finish, led 2,253 laps and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He also passed through the Chase Round of 12, the Round of 8 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Truex did what he had to do to be the highest finisher of the Championship 4. He won the Homestead race and was crowned the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion. His best MENCS season starts were the poles at Loudon 7/16, Dover 10/1 and Kansas 10/22. His best finishes were the victories at Las Vegas 3/12, Kansas 5/13, Kentucky 7/8 and Watkins Glen 8/6, Chicago 9/17, Charlotte 10/8, Kansas 10/22 and Homestead 11/19.
2018: Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn return with the No. 78 Toyota to defend the MENCS championship. Bass Pro Shops, Five-Hour Energy and Auto-Owners Insurance continue primary sponsorship for the team.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2017: Justin Allgaier - JR Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet - In 33 races, the Riverton, IL driver scored 2 wins, 1 pole, 10 top-5s, 17 top-10s, had a 10.4 average start, a 13.0 average finish, led 495 laps and was one of the 12 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He passed through the Round of 12, the Round of 8 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler and William Byron for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Allgaier's 12th place finish was 3rd-highest of the four drivers and he closed out the season 3rd in the standings. His best NXS season start was the pole at Charlotte 5/27. His best finishes were the victories at Phoenix 3/18 and Chicago 9/16.
2018: Allgaier along with crew chief Jason Burdett return for another season with the JRM No. 7 Chevrolet team. BRANDT will cover sponsorship for 19 of the 33 races. Other sponsors have not been announced at this time.

2017: Elliott Sadler - JR Motorsports No. 1 Chevrolet – In 33 races, the Emporia, VA driver scored 1 pole, 12 top-5s, 25 top-10s, had a 9.9 average start, a 9.4 average finish, led 123 laps and was one of the 12 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He made it through the Round of 12, the Round of 8 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier and William Byron for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Sadler's 8th place finish was 2nd-highest of the four drivers and he closed out the season runner-up in the standings. His best NXS season start was the pole at Indianapolis 7/22. His best finishes were 2nd at Talladega 5/6 and Daytona 6/30. His last NXS win was on September 24, 2016 at Kentucky Speedway. He also drove Tommy Baldwin Racing's No. 7 Chevrolet in three Cup series restrictor plate races. His best finish was 17th at Talladega 5/7. Sadler was announced the 2017 National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for the second straight year. He also won the award in 2011.
2018: Sadler, crew chief Kevin Meendering and sponsors One-Main Financial, Hunt Brothers Pizza and Armour return to the JRM No. 1 Chevrolet team for another season.

2017: William Byron - JR Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet – In 33 races, the Charlotte, NC driver scored 4 wins, 2 poles, 12 top-5s, 22 top-10s, had an 8.5 average start, a 10.4 average finish, led 262 laps and was one of the 12 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He continued through the Round of 12, the Round of 8 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Byron's 3rd place finish was the best of the four drivers and he closed out the season as the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion. His best NXS season starts were the poles at Phoenix 3/18 and Dover 9/30. His best finishes were the victories at Iowa 6/24 Daytona 6/30, Indianapolis 7/22 and Phoenix 11/11. Byron was also named the XFINITY Series 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
2018: Byron moved up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the end of 2017. He will pilot the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. HMS teammate Chase Elliott who used the No. 24, switched the team number to the No. 9 which his dad, Bill Elliott, used in most of his Cup career. Darian Grub will assume the crew chief role for Byron. Confirmed primary sponsors include Liberty University, UniFirst and Axalta. Byron will also be running for the 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the MENCS.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2017: Austin Cindric - Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) No. 19 Ford F-150 - In 23 races, the Columbus, OH driver scored 1 win, 1 pole, 8 top-5s, 16 top-10s, had a 9.1 average start, a 10.2 average finish, led 106 laps and was one of the eight drivers who made it into the playoffs. He also made it through the Chase Round of 8, the Round of 6 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Christopher Bell for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. His 5th place finish was 3rd-highest of the four drivers and he closed out the season 3rd in the standings. His best NCWTS season start was the pole at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park 9/3. His best finish was the win in the same CTMP event. Cindric also entered one XFINITY Series race in Team Penske's No. 22 Ford. He started 1st (not a pole, due to rain, lineup set by fastest in practice) at the Road America road course and finished 16th.
2018: At the end of 2017, BKR ceased operations on their NCWTS program. Cindric was hired by Roush Fenway Racing to share the No. 60 Ford Mustang in the XFINITY Series (NXS). Chase Briscoe and Ty Majeski are the other two drivers scheduled to pilot the Roush 60 Team entry. Mike Kelley will be crew chief for the team. Cindric was chosen by RFR to start the 2018 NXS season in the No. 60 for the Power Shares QQQ 300 opener at Daytona this month.

2017: Johnny Sauter - GMS Racing No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado – In 23 races, the Necedah, WI driver scored 4 wins, 13 top-5s, 19 top-10s, had a 5.2 average start, a 6.3 average finish, led 455 laps and was one of the eight drivers who made it into the playoffs. He also made it through the Chase Round of 8, the Round of 6 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Matt Crafton, Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. His 3rd place finish was 2nd-highest of the four drivers and he closed out the season runner-up in the standings. Sauter's best NCWTS season start was 1st (not a pole, rain, set by practice speeds) at Kentucky 7/6. His best finishes were the victories at Dover 6/2, Chicago 9/15, Texas 11/3 and Phoenix 11/10.
2018: Sauter will return for another season in the GMS No. 21 Chevy truck. Joe Shear Jr. will continue as crew chief. Unless something changes, Allegiant Travel will sponsor the truck again this season.

2017: Christopher Bell - Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota Tundra - In 23 races, the Norman, OK driver scored 5 wins, 5 poles, 15 top-5s, 21 top-10s, had a 4.9 average start, a 5.7 average finish, led 875 laps and was one of the eight drivers who made it into the playoffs. He also made it through the Chase Round of 8, the Round of 6 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 along with Matt Crafton, Austin Cindric and Johnny Sauter for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Bell's 2nd place finish was the best of the four drivers and he closed out the season as the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion. His best NCWTS season starts were the poles at Atlanta 3/4, Kansas 5/12, Charlotte 5/19, Talladega 10/14 and Phoenix 11/10. His best finishes were the victories at Atlanta 3/4, Texas 6/9, Kentucky 7/6, Pocono 7/29 and Loudon 9/23. Bell also drove Joe Gibbs Racing shared Toyotas in eight XFINITY Series races picking up a pole at Iowa (6/24) and a win at Kansas (10/21). He went up north to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for one NASCAR Pinty's Series race. He started 10th but suffered a DNF after the brakes failed on the Scott Steckly No. 22 Dodge 29 laps into the 55-lap event. He drove the Venturini Motorsports No. 25 Toyota in his lone 2017 ARCA Series race at Chicagoland Speedway; started 11th and won the race. Bell, the 2013 USAC National Midget champion, also scored 10 wins in 13 Midget starts in 2017 including the Junior Knepper 55 on his 23rd birthday, December 16.
2018: Bell moves up to the XFINITY Series full-time in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. Jason Ratcliff fills the crew chief role for the team. Rheem has committed to a 23-race primary sponsorship. He will also contend for the 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year title. Bell will most likely run several dirt track races again this year. On January 13th, he already won his second-consecutive annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl race in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tentative 2018 Cup Series Lineup - Full-time teams
Car Driver Sponsor Make Owner
00 Jeffrey Earnhardt VRX Simulators Chevrolet StarCom Racing
1 Jamie McMurray Cessna / McDonald’s / GearWrench / DC Solar Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing
2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite / Discount Tire / Alliance Truck Parts / Wurth / REESE / Draw-Tite 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 / Mountain Dew / SunEnergy1 / Hooters / Kelley Blue Book  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 / DEX Imaging 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
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 / Reser’s Fine Foods / Sport Clips / Circle K Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing
21 Paul Menard Menards / Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford Wood Brothers 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 / Keen Parts/Corvetteparts.ne Ford GoFAS Racing
34 Michael McDowell Love's Travel Stops / K-LOVE Ford Front Row Motorsports
37 Chris Buescher Kroger/Scott Products/Bush’s Beans/ Kleenex/Velveeta/Natural Light Chevrolet JTG Daugherty Racing
38 David Ragan Shriners Hospitals for Children / 100Bulbs.com/Speedco Ford Front Row Motorsports
41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy / Haas Automation Ford Stewart-Haas Racing
42 Kyle Larson Credit One Bank / DC Solar 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 Beans/Louisiana Hot Sauce  Chevrolet JTG Daugherty Racing
48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools / Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports
51 Justin Marks Harry's Shaving Products/Katerra (Daytona 500 Only) Chevrolet Rick Ware Racing
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/Valvoline 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
7 Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com (Daytona 500 only) Chevrolet Premium Motorsports
23 Multiple drivers (CH) ? Toyota BK Racing
27 ? (leased Charter to StarCom Racing) Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing
30 ? ? Chevrolet The Motorsports Group
33 ? ? Chevrolet Circle Sport
44 ? ? Chevrolet Richard Petty Motorsports
52 Multiple drivers ? ? Rick Ware Racing
55 ? ? Chev/Toyota Premium Motorsports
62 Brendan Gaughan Beard Oil / TSS Logistics Chevrolet Beard Motorsports
66 David Starr Eureka Vacuums  Chevrolet MBM Motorsports
66 Mark Thompson Phoenix Air (Daytona only) Ford MBM Motorsports
72 ? Cole Whitt ? ? TriStar Motorsports
77 ? ? ? Furniture Row Racing
83 Multiple drivers ? Toyota BK Racing
96 D.J. Kennington Castrol/Lordco Auto Parts - Daytona only Toyota Gaunt Brothers Racing
          (CH)  Has a Charter    


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



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