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Kurt Busch
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Look Ahead

The Daytona 500 in just 35 days

by Anthony Ballantoni

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, follow NASCAR Headlines and "Player" News on this screen for the latest driver updates.
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With 35 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: Brad Keselowski (Team Penske No. 2 Ford) - In 36 races, the Rochester Hills, MI native scored three wins, 12 top-fives, 20 top-tens, had a 10.3 average start, a 13.4 average finish and led 705 laps. He earned a spot in the season playoffs, continued through the 3-race Round of 16 and the 3-race Round of 12, but was eliminated at the end of the 3-race Round of 8. He closed out the season eighth in the standings. His best MENCS season start was 2nd at Michigan (6/10). His best finishes were the victories at Darlington (9/2), Indianapolis (9/10) and Las Vegas (9/16). Keselowski also drove Team Penske's No. 22 Mustang in five XFINITY Series races. He averaged a 3.0 in both starts and finishes, racking up two poles, three wins, a 2nd place and a 10th place finish.
2019: Keselowski is signed through 2020 with crew chief Paul Wolfe returning to lead the No. 2 team. Miller Lite and Discount Tire are confirmed as sponsors thru at least this season. Coleman Pressley, 2018 spotter for AJ Allmendinger at JTG Daugherty Racing, will replace Keselowski's longtime spotter Joey Meier, who announced last November that he would be moving on at the end of 2018. Not yet announced, but Keselowski may be one of the multiple drivers sharing the Team Penske No. 12 Mustang in the XFINITY Series as well.
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2018: Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford) - In 36 races, the Las Vegas, NV native scored one win, five poles, six top-fives, 22 top-tens, had an 8.8 average start, a 12.1 average finish and led 644 laps. He earned a spot in the season playoffs, continued through the 3-race Round of 16 and the 3-race Round of 12, but was eliminated at the end of the 3-race Round of 8. He closed out the season seventh in the standings. Busch's best MENCS season starts were the poles at Texas (4/8), Michigan (6/10), Loudon (7/22), Charlotte Roval (9/30) and Talladega (10/14). His best finish was the victory at Bristol (8/18).
2019: Busch left the SHR No. 41 Ford at the end of 2018 after five seasons with the team. Daniel Suarez was announced this week as his replacement for 2019. Busch moved over to Chip Ganassi Racing to replace Jamie McMurray in the No. 1 Chevrolet. McMurray will be an analyst for Fox Sports coverage of the NASCAR races. Matt McCall continues as the crew chief for the No. 1 team. Monster Energy has signed on as the primary sponsor for an unspecified number of races.
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NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2018: Austin Cindric competed full-time in the XFINITY Series splitting his time with three different teams. He piloted Team Penske's No. 12 Ford in 8 races, Penske's No. 22 in 16 races and Roush Fenway Racing's No. 60 Ford in 9 races. Over-all in the 33 races, the Mooresville, NC native scored three poles, seven top-fives, 13 top-tens, had a 9.8 average start, a 17.0 average finish and led 140 laps. Cindric earned a spot in the season playoffs, made it through the 3-race Round of 12 but was eliminated at the end of the three-race Round of 8. He closed out the season eighth in the standings. His best NXS season starts were the poles at Iowa (6/17), Mid-Ohio (8/11) and the Charlotte Roval (9/29). His best finish was 2nd place at Mid-Ohio (8/11).
2019: Team Penske has contracted Cindric to drive their No. 22 Ford Mustang full-time in 2019. Brian Wilson will be crew chief for the team. MoneyLion has stepped up to sponsor the car for 18 races. Other sponsorship will be announced later.
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2018: Justin Allgaier (JR Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Riverton, IL native scored five wins, one pole, 17 top-fives, 24 top-tens, had a 7.8 average start, a 10.6 average finish and led 741 laps. He earned a spot in the season playoffs, made it through the 3-race Round of 12 but was eliminated at the end of the three-race Round of 8. He closed out the season seventh in the standings. Allgaier's best NXS season start was the pole at Phoenix (3/10). His best finishes were the victories at Dover (5/5), Iowa (6/17), Mid-Ohio (8/11), Road America (8/25 and Indianapolis (9/10).
2019: Allgaier returns full-time in JR Motorsports No. 7 Camaro. BRANDT Professional Agriculture returns for the fourth straight season as primary sponsor. Jason Burdett is back as crew chief as he has been on the No. 7 since 2015.
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NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS):
2018: Ben Rhodes (ThorSport Racing No. 41 Ford F-150) – In 23 races, the Louisville, KY native scored one win, three poles, eight top-fives, 13 top-tens, had a 9.5 average start, a 9.9 average finish and led 232 laps. Rhodes earned a spot in the season playoffs but was eliminated at the end of the three-race Round of 8. He closed out the season eighth in the standings. His best truck season starts were the poles at Martinsville (3/24), Eldora (7/18) and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (8/26). His best finish was the victory at Kentucky (7/12).
2019: No firm plans announced yet. Unless something changes, Rhodes is expected to continue driving ThorSport's No. 41 Ford, Eddie Troconis will again be crew chief and Alpha Energy Solutions will return as primary sponsor.
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2018: Stewart Friesen (Halmar Friesen Racing No. 52 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 23 races, the Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario native scored one pole, nine top-fives, 16 top-tens, had a 7.5 average start, a 9.1 average finish and led 188 laps. Friesen earned a spot in the season playoffs but was eliminated at the end of the three-race Round of 8. He closed out the season seventh in the standings. His best truck season start was the pole at Texas (6/8). His best finishes were 2nd place at Texas (6/8), Kentucky (7/12) and Bristol (8/16). Friesen also entered two CARS Super Late Model Tour events; finished 2nd at both Nashville and Bristol.
2019: Halmar Friesen Racing renewed its technical alliance with GMS Racing to field the No. 52 Chevrolet Silverado. Friesen, along with crew chief Chip Bruce, will run another full truck season.
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Tentative 2019 Cup Series Lineup

   

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

00

Landon Cassill

VRX Simulators

Chev

StarCom Racing

1

Kurt Busch

Monster Energy / Cessna

Chev

Chip Ganassi Racing

2

Brad Keselowski

Miller Lite / Discount Tire / Alliance Truck Parts / Wurth / REESE / Draw-Tite

Ford

Team Penske

3

Austin Dillon

Dow / Liberty National / American Ethanol / AAA

Chev

Richard Childress Racing

4

Kevin Harvick

Busch Beer / Jimmie Johns /  Mobil 1 / Hunt Brothers Pizza

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

6

Ryan Newman

Wyndham Rewards / Oscar Mayer

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

8

Daniel Hemric - R

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

Chev

Richard Childress Racing

9

Chase Elliott

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

Chev

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

Chev

Germain Racing

14

Clint Bowyer

PEAK / BlueDEF / Mobil 1 /  Haas Automation

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

15

Ross Chastain

(Not announced)

Chev

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.

Bass Pro Shops / Auto-Owners Insurance

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 / AAA So.Cal.

Ford

Team Penske

24

William Byron

Liberty University / Axalta / UniFirst / Hertz

Chev

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

(Not announced)

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

37

Chris Buescher

Kroger/Scott Products/Bush’s Beans/ Kleenex / Velveeta / Natural Light

Chev

JTG Daugherty Racing

38

David Ragan

Shriners Hospitals for Children / 100Bulbs.com / Speedco

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

41

Daniel Suarez

Arris / Haas Automation

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

42

Kyle Larson

Credit One Bank (not firm yet)

Chev

Chip Ganassi Racing

43

Bubba Wallace

World Wide Technology  / U.S. Air Force / STP / Alsco

Chev

Richard Petty Motorsports

47

Ryan Preece -R

Kroger / Scott Products / Kingsford Charcoal / Bush’s Beans

Chev

JTG Daugherty Racing

48

Jimmie Johnson

Ally Financial

Chev

Hendrick Motorsports

51

(Multiple drivers)

(Multiple Sponsors)

Chev / Ford

Rick Ware Racing

52

Cody Ware

(Multiple Sponsors)

Chev

Rick Ware Racing

72

(Not announced)

(Not announced)

Chev

TriStar Motorsports

77

(Not announced)

(Not announced)

Chev

Spire Motorsports

88

Alex Bowman

Nationwide Insurance / Axalta / Valvoline / Eastman/Llumar

Chev

Hendrick Motorsports

95

Matt DiBenedetto

WRL General Contractors / Procure / Dumont Jets

Toyota

Leavine Family Racing

97

Tanner Berryhill -R

(Not announced)

Toyota

Obaika Motorsports

 

 

 

 

 

 

R-Rookie of The Year

 

 

 

 

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