Dylan Lupton made only four starts in 2016, but he was at his best on short tracks.
Lupton finished 25th—only one lap off the pace—at Richmond International Raceway in September. He was 31st at Martinsville Speedway in October. Conversely, he was at his worst on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway in the season finale.
With an average finish of 12.03, Kurt Busch had the sixth-best mark among all fulltime contenders in 2016.
Busch accumulated this average by finishing in the top 10 slightly more than half the time. He finished worse than 23rd only three times, which made him a good place-and-hold driver if a fantasy player was able to sign him when he was relatively inexpensive.
Ryan Newman finished worse than 20th only seven times in 36 Cup races last year.
Six of his poor finishes were caused by crash damage, which meant that he was nearly perfect whenever he stayed out of trouble. With only 10 top-10s to his credit Newman was never quite able to find enough raw power to make the Chase, however.
Paul Menard scored top-20s in just over 50 percent of his starts for a total of 19 in 36 races.
Menard had only three top-10s, but he balanced that with another four results that were just barely outside of the top 20 in either 21st or 22nd. He did not always score maximum points, but he rarely cost players many either.
Chris Buescher’s Pennsylvania 400 victory at Pocono Raceway that put him in Chase contention was rapidly followed by a fifth-place finish two weeks later at Bristol Motor Speedway.
There was nothing ‘fluky’ about his top-five. He qualified 12th, remained on the lead lap most of the day, and finished strong. His results improved when Roush-Fenway Racing increased their support to Front Row Motorsports—and in 2017 he will essentially be in a satellite team for that powerhouse organization, which means he will be one of the top dark horses coming out of the gates.
Dakoda Armstrong will return to JGL Racing for the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) season with WinField as Primary Sponsor on the No. 28 Toyota for 20 races starting with the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
He finished 13th in the 2016 NXS final drivers' standings in his first season with the JGL Racing organization. He went on to collect 22 top-20 finishes during the season. Armstrong and his No. 28 WinField Toyota will once again be led by veteran crew chief Steven Lane. The team will continue to utilize Joe Gibbs Racing engines and will be expanding on that relationship as well.-Integrity Sports Marketing
Alex Bowman will race the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS in the Feb. 18 season-opening, non-points The Clash at Daytona International Speedway, which will feature pole position winners from the previous year.
Bowman won the No. 88 team’s lone 2016 pole at Phoenix in November. "Alex did such a great job in the car this year, and I felt like he deserved another opportunity," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "When I spoke with Rick (Hendrick) and the team about him driving The Clash, everyone agreed that he more than earned it, and Nationwide was 100-percent on board. I’m really grateful to him and Jeff (Gordon) for what they did (subbing for Earnhardt) for our team, and I’m glad Alex is getting another run with us."-Hendrick Motorsports
Following a test session Wednesday afternoon at Darlington Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been medically cleared to resume NASCAR competition after making a full recovery from a concussion.
He will return for the beginning of the 2017 season at the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.
Earnhardt, 42, was cleared Wednesday evening by Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh, in consultation with Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Petty attended the test at the 1.366-mile South Carolina racetrack.-Hendrick Motorsports