Loading scores...
Look Ahead

Look Ahead: Daytona in 41 Days

by Anthony Ballantoni
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

During the off-season, Look Ahead gives a snapshot of where drivers finished in 2015 and what’s ahead for them in 2016. We will look at drivers who scored at least 250 points in the Cup Series and those who earned at least 200 points in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. Since many teams have yet to firm up their 2016 plans, we will include updates in future columns.

With 41 days to go until the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, here are some driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2016 Sprint Cup Driver/Team lineups.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS):
2015
: Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Toyota Camry) - In 34 races, the Cambridge, WI driver led 927 laps, scored five wins, four poles, 12 top-fives, 20 top-10s, had an 11.5 average start, a 14.3 average finish, earned 2234 points and closed out the season 15th in the standings. Kenseth made the top-16 Chase lineup after Richmond. He was among the 12 drivers who made it through the Challenger Round into the Contender Round but was one of the four drivers cut after the October 25th race at Talladega Superspeedway. Kenseth drove JGR’s #20 Toyota in five XFINITY Series races. All starts were top-fives (including a pole at Kansas); all finishes were top-tens (including four second places).
Best 2015 starts: POLES – Bristol 4/19, Charlotte 5/24, Michigan 8/16 and Charlotte 10/11
(also 1st at Dover 10/4 - Not a pole, rain, no time trials)
Best 2015 finishes: WIN – Bristol 4/19, Pocono 8/2, Michigan 8/16, Richmond 9/12 and Loudon 9/27
Last career NSCS win: New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 27, 2015.
2016: Kenseth is contracted to drive the JGR #20 Toyota thru 2016. Jason Ratcliff returns as crew chief. Dollar General and DeWalt return as sponsors as well. No plans on Kenseth entering races in any other series at this time.

2015: Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing #27 Chevrolet SS) - In 36 races, the Eau Claire, WI driver led 10 laps, scored two top-fives, five top-10s, had a 17.8 average start, a 17.1 average finish, earned 2262 points and closed out the season 14th in the standings. Menard made the top-16 Chase lineup after Richmond but was one of the four drivers cut after the Challenger Round that ended with the October 4th race at Dover. RCR put Menard in their #33 Camaro for eight XFINITY Series races. He had a 7.0 average start and a 9.1 average finished which included a win at the Elkhart Lake (Road America) road course on August 29th.
Best 2015 start: 4th – Daytona 7/5
Best 2015 finish: 4th – Talladega 5/3
Last career NSCS win: Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31, 2011.
2016: Menard is contracted thru 2016 to drive RCR’s #27 Menard’s Chevrolet. Justin Alexander returns as crew chief. No firm plans on any XFINITY Series action (#33 Camaro) for Menard at this time.

2015: Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing #1 Chevrolet SS) - In 36 races, the Joplin, MO driver led 14 laps, scored four top-fives, 10 top-10s, had a 16.3 average start, a 14.9 average finish, earned 2295 points and closed out the season 13th in the standings. McMurray made the top-16 Chase lineup after Richmond but was one of the four drivers cut after the Challenger Round that ended with the October 4th race at Dover. Also, in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, McMurray was part of the winning Ganassi Racing team (McMurray, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Kyle Larson) in the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Best 2015 starts: 3rd – Atlanta 3/1 and Phoenix 3/15
Best 2015 finishes: 2nd – Phoenix 3/15 and Martinsville 11/1
Last career NSCS win: Talladega Superspeedway on October 20, 2013.
2016: McMurray is contracted thru 2016 to drive the CGR #1 Chevrolet. Crew chief Matt McCall and sponsors McDonald’s and Cessna will return this season. McMurray will also be joining Ganassi Racing teammates Larson, Dixon and Kanaan in defending their 2015 win for the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona (January 30-31).

NSCS UPDATES:
- Matt Puccia will direct Trevor Bayne’s effort as crew chief on the Roush Fenway Racing #6 team. Puccia, formerly Greg Biffle’s crew chief, was slated to move to the XFINITY Series to oversee the #6 NXS team with Darrell “Bubba” Wallace. Seth Barbour will remain in that role for Wallace in 2016.
- Bob Osborne, 2015 crew chief for Trevor Bayne, has been named crew chief for Chris Buescher in his Sprint Cup rookie season at Front Row Motorsports driving the #34 Ford Fusion.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2015
: Ryan Sieg (Sieg Racing #39 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 33 races, the Tucker, GA driver led 10 laps, scored one top-10, had a 19.0 average start, a 19.1 average finish, earned 827 points and closed out the season 11th in the standings. He drove his family-owned #39 Chevrolet Silverado in the February Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway; started 18th and finished 11th.
Best 2015 start: 7th – Atlanta 2/28
Best 2015 finish: 8th – Kansas 10/17
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2016: No firm plans announced at this time but Sieg will most likely field his family owned #39 Chevrolet again in the 2016 NXS season.

2015: Ryan Reed (Roush Fenway Racing #16 Ford Mustang) – In 33 races, the Bakersfield, CA driver led 16 laps, scored one win, one top-five, one top-10, had a 16.0 average start, a 16.2 average finish, earned 902 points and closed out the season 10th in the standings. Reed also drove the #38 and #58 Fords in three ARCA Racing Series races for Lira Motorsports. He won at the Chicagoland and Kentucky Speedways and finished fourth at Kansas Speedway.
Best 2015 starts: 8th – Daytona 2/21 and Daytona 7/4
Best 2015 finish: WIN – Daytona 2/21
Last career NXS win: Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2015.
2016: Reed will return to the RFR #16 Mustang with American Diabetes Association sponsorship. Phil Gould, who spent 2015 at RFR as crew chief for Elliott Sadler, will take over the same role for Reed on the #16. Sadler has since moved to JR Motorsports for the 2016 season.

NXS UPDATES:
- Dakoda Armstrong will replace J.J. Yeley in the XFINITY Series #28 JGL Racing Toyota Camry. Armstrong finished 12th in the 2015 NXS standings driving the #43 WinField Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2015
: Ray Black Jr. (SS Green Light Racing #07 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 23 races, the Palm Coast, FL driver led seven laps, scored one top-five, one top-10, had a 20.7 average start, a 16.7 average finish, earned 635 points and closed out the season 11th in the standings. Black drove Rick Ware Racing’s #15 Chevrolet Camaro in one XFINITY Series race (Fort Worth); started 22nd, finished 27th.
Best 2015 start: 8th – Charlotte 5/15
Best 2015 finish: 5th – Daytona 2/20
Last career NCWTS win: None so far.
2016: Black Jr. is scheduled to return full-time in SS Green Light Racing’s #07 Chevrolet truck carrying sponsorship from ScubaLife.com. At this time, there are no team changes announced. No firm plans on running any XFINITY Series races this season.

2015: Spencer Gallagher (GMS Racing #23 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 23 races, the Las Vegas, NV driver led three laps, scored one top-five, six top-10s, had a 12.7 average start, a 14.6 average finish, earned 677 points and closed out the season 10th in the standings. Gallagher also piloted Scott Steckly’s #24 Dodge in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race at Bowmanville, Ontario. He started 15th and was credited with a 22nd place DNF when the radiator failed with six laps to go.
Best 2015 start: 2nd – Texas 11/6
Best 2015 finish: 2nd – Gateway 6/13
Last career NCWTS win: None so far.
2016: Gallagher is prepared to run his second full-time season in his family-owned GMS Racing #23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet Silverado. Jeff Hensley, the 2015 crew chief on Cameron Hayley’s #13 ThorSport Racing team, has been named to lead the GMS #23 team.

2016 Sprint Cup Lineup - Full-time teams(Tentative)

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

1

Jamie McMurray

Cessna/McDonald’s

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

2

Brad Keselowski

Miller Lite/Alliance Truck Parts/Wurth

Ford

Team Penske

3

Austin Dillon

Dow/Cheerios/Bass Pro Shops/American Ethanol

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

4

Kevin Harvick

Busch Beer/Jimmie Johns/diTech Mortgage

Chevrolet

Stewart  Haas Racing

5

Kasey Kahne

Farmers Insurance/Great Clips/

LiftMaster/Quicken Loans

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

6

Trevor Bayne

AdvoCare

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

7

Alex Bowman

Nikko RC/Toy State

Chevrolet

Tommy Baldwin Racing

9

Brian Scott *

Shore Lodge/White Tail/Albertson’s

Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports

10

Danica Patrick

Nature’s Bakery/Aspen Dental/ TaxACT/Mobil 1

Chevrolet

Stewart  Haas Racing

11

Denny Hamlin

FedEx/Sports Clips

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

13

Casey Mears

Geico

Chevrolet

Germain Racing

14

Tony Stewart

Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1/Code 3 Associates

Chevrolet

Stewart Haas Racing

15

Clint Bowyer

5-hour Energy/PEAK/BluDEF

Chevrolet

HScott Motorsports

16

Greg Biffle

Cheez-It

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Fastenal/Fifth Third Bank/Juicy Juice

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

18

Kyle Busch

M&M’s/Skittles/Interstate Batteries

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

19

Carl Edwards

Arris/Stanley/Sport Clips/Subway/Comcast

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

20

Matt Kenseth

Dollar General/DeWalt

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

21

Ryan Blaney *

Motorcraft/Quick Lane

Ford

Wood Brothers Racing

22

Joey Logano

Shell-Pennzoil

Ford

Team Penske

24

Chase Elliott *

NAPA Auto Parts/3M/Kelley Blue Book

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

27

Paul Menard

Menards

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

31

Ryan Newman

Caterpillar/Grainger

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

32

Bobby Labonte

C&J Energy Services (4 races)

Ford

GoFAS Racing

32

Jeffrey Earnhardt *

Can-Am (11 races)

Ford

GoFAS Racing

34

Chris Buescher *

???

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

41

Kurt Busch

Monster Energy/Haas Automation/

State Water Heaters

 

Chevrolet

Stewart Haas Racing

42

Kyle Larson

Target/Energizer/Coca-Cola/AXE/Clorox

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

43

Aric Almirola

Smithfield Foods

Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports

46

Michael Annett

Pilot Flying J

Chevrolet

HScott Motorsports

47

AJ Allmendinger

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

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

48

Jimmie Johnson

Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

78

Martin Truex Jr.

Furniture Row/

Denver Mattresses

Toyota

Furniture Row Racing

88

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Nationwide/Axalta Coatings/TaxSlayer.com/

Diet Mountain Dew

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

 

 

* Rookie of The Year candidate

 

 

 

 

Part-time/Questionable teams

 

 

23

???

???

Toyota

BK Racing

26

???

???

Toyota

BK Racing

33

???

???

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

35

???

???

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

38

???

???

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

40

???

???

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

62

???

???

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

66

???

???

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

83

???

Burger King/Dr. Pepper

Toyota

BK Racing

95

Michael McDowell

K-LOVE/Thrivent Financial

Ford

Leavine Family Racing

98

???

???

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

99

???

???

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

 


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