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Anthony Ballantoni

Look Ahead

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Look Ahead: Daytona in 55 days

Sunday, December 23, 2018


During the off-season, Look Ahead gives a snapshot of where drivers finished in 2018 and what’s ahead for them in 2019. We will look at drivers who finished in the top 20 in points for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Since many teams have yet to firm up their 2019 plans, we will include updates in future columns.
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With 55 days to go until the 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, here are a few driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2019 Cup Driver/Team lineups. Teams listed are those that plan on running all events and have a NASCAR Charter guaranteeing a start in each race.
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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS):
2018: Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet) - In 36 races, the El Cajon, CA driver scored two top-fives, 11 top-tens, had a 19.2 average start, a 16.7 average finish and led 40 laps. He made it into the season playoffs but was eliminated at the end of the Round of 16. He closed out the season 14th in the standings. Johnson's best MENCS season start was 4th at Daytona (7/7) and best finish was 3rd at Bristol (4/16). His last MENCS win was June 4, 2017 at Dover International Speedway.
2019: Johnson is signed through 2020 in the HMS No. 48 Chevrolet. Kevin Meendering will be his crew chief this season. Chad Knaus, his only crew chief for the past 17 seasons, will move over in that role to the HMS No. 24 for Johnson's teammate William Byron. Also, Johnson's primary sponsor since he debuted in the Cup series in October 2001, Lowe's, will not return in 2019. Ally Financial will be his full-time sponsor thru the 2020 season.
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2018: Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet) - In 36 races, the Lewisville, NC driver scored one win, two top-fives, eight top-tens, had an 18.8 average start, a 17.5 average finish and led 23 laps. He made it into the season playoffs but was eliminated at the end of the Round of 16. He closed out the season 13th in the standings. Dillon's best MENCS season starts were 5th at Auto Club (3/18) and Michigan (8/12). His best finish was the victory at Daytona International Speedway in the season opener on February 18th. Dillon piloted RCR's No. 3 Camaro in seven XFINITY Series events; won at Michigan (6/9), scored two top-fives and four top-tens. He also drove Young Motorsports No. 20 Silverado in the Atlanta truck race; started 13th, finished 10th.
2019: The only change for Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Chevrolet team is at the top of the pit box. Dillon will reunite with Danny Stockman as his 2019 crew chief replacing Justin Alexander. Together, Dillon and Stockman clinched the 2011 Camping World Truck Series title and 2013 Xfinity Series championship.
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NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2018: Michael Annett (JR Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Des Moines, IA driver scored three top-tens, had a 17.5 average start, an 18.6 average finish, led nine laps, earned 632 points and closed out the season 14th in the standings. Annett's best NXS season start was 5th at Talladega (4/28) and best finish was 7th at Bristol (8/17).
2019: In the middle of the season, JRM announced a multi-year contract extension for Annett to drive the No. 5 Camaro with Pilot Flying J continuing as his primary sponsor. At this time, Travis Mack will also return as crew chief for the team.
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2018: John Hunter Nemechek (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet) - In 18 races, the Mooresville, NC driver scored one win, one pole, six top-fives, 11 top-tens, had an 8.5 average start, a 10.1 average finish, led 211 laps, earned 643 points and closed out the season 13th in the standings. Nemechek's best NXS season start was the pole at Phoenix (11/10) and his best finish was the victory at Kansas (10/20). John Hunter also entered his family-owned NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 Silverado in 18 truck series races. He scored a win at Martinsville, a pole at Michigan, led 286 laps and averaged a 14.1 finish.
2019: Nemechek joins GMS Racing to drive their No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro full-time in the XFINITY Series. He is replacing Spencer Gallagher who is moving into management at GMS. Nemechek is eligible to contend for the 2019 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. Chad Norris will be his crew chief and Allegiant Airlines will continue as sponsor of the No. 23.
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NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS):
2018: Dalton Sargeant (GMS Racing No. 25 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 16 races, the Boca Raton, FL driver scored one top-five, four top-tens, had a 13.4 average start, a 14.0 average finish, led 33 laps, earned 404 points and closed out the season 14th in the standings. His best truck season start was 2nd at Chicago (6/29) and best finish was 3rd at Pocono (7/28).
2019: Sargeant shared the truck with multiple drivers in 2018 but was was behind the wheel in 16 of the 23 season races. No firm plans announced at this time for Sargeant or if the GMS No. 25 team will be fielded in 2019.
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2018: Cody Coughlin (GMS Racing No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 18 races, the Delaware, OH driver scored six top-tens, had a 12.5 average start, a 14.6 average finish, earned 433 points and closed out the season 13th in the standings. Coughlin's best truck season start was 2nd at Kansas (5/11) and best finish was 6th at Dover (5/4).
2019: Coughlin is currently "between rides". GMS announced in September "Due to unforeseen issues with additional sponsorship needed, Cody Coughlin will no longer drive the No. 2 for GMS Racing." Other drivers filled in for the remainder of the season and Sheldon Creed has been hired to run the No. 2 truck full-time in 2019.
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Tentative 2019 Cup Series Lineup

 

 

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

00

Landon Cassill

VRX Simulators

Chevrolet

StarCom Racing

1

Kurt Busch

Monster Energy / Cessna

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 / Hunt Brothers Pizza

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

6

Ryan Newman

AdvoCare / Performance Plus Oil / Wyndham Rewards

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

8

Daniel Hemric - R

Bass Pro Shops / Cabela's / Caterpillar /  Cessna / Liberty National /  VF Workwear

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

9

Chase Elliott

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

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

10

Aric Almirola

Smithfield / Valley Tech Academy

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

11

Denny Hamlin

FedEx

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

12

Ryan Blaney

BodyArmour / VF Workwear / MoneyLion

Ford

Team Penske

13

Ty Dillon

Geico

Chevrolet

Germain Racing

14

Clint Bowyer

PEAK / BlueDEF / Mobil 1 /  Haas Automation

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

15

Ross Chastain

??

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

Martin Truex Jr.

ARRIS / Ruckus

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 / Money/Lion

Ford

Team Penske

24

William Byron

Liberty University / Axalta / UniFirst / Hertz

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

32

Corey LaJoie

Schluter Systems / Keen Parts / Corvetteparts.net

Ford

GoFAS Racing

34

Michael McDowell

Love's Travel Stops / K-LOVE

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

36

Matt Tifft -R

?

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

??

Haas Automation

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

42

Kyle Larson

Credit One Bank / DC Solar

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

43

Bubba Wallace

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

Chevrolet

Richard Petty Motorsports

47

Ryan Preece -R

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

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

48

Jimmie Johnson

Ally Financial

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

51

(Multiple drivers)

(Multiple Sponsors)

Chev/Ford

Rick Ware Racing

52

Cody Ware

(Multiple Sponsors)

Chevrolet

Rick Ware Racing

72

??

??

Chevrolet

TriStar Motorsports

77

??

??

Chevrolet

Spire Motorsports

88

Alex Bowman

Nationwide Insurance/Axalta/Valvoline

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

95

Matt DiBenedetto

WRL General Contractors / TRD

Toyota

Leavine Family Racing

97

Tanner Berryhill -R

??

Toyota

Obaika Motorsports

 

 

 

 

 

 

R-Rookie of The Year

 

 

 

 



Anthony Ballantoni is a Senior Sports Writer at Rotoworld.com.
Email :Anthony Ballantoni



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