Anthony Ballantoni

Look Ahead

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Daytona 500 in three weeks

Sunday, January 28, 2018


During the off-season, Look Ahead gives a snapshot of where drivers finished in 2017 and what’s ahead for them in 2018. We will look at drivers who finished in the top 30 in points for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. Since many teams have yet to firm up their 2018 plans, follow Rotoworld NASCAR Headlines for the latest updates.

With 21 days to go before the 2018 NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season-opening Daytona 500, here are a few driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2018 MENCS Driver/Team lineups. Teams listed as full-time plan on running all 36 events and have a NASCAR Charter guaranteeing a start in each race.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS):
2017: Denny Hamlin - Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 11 Toyota - In 36 races, the Chesterfield, VA driver scored 2 wins, 2 poles, 15 top-5s, 22 top-10s, had an 8.4 average start, an 11.6 average finish, led 710 laps and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. Hamlin also made it through the Chase Round of 12 and the Round of 8 but did not advance into the Chase Championship 4. He closed out the season 6th in the standings. His best MENCS season starts were the poles at Charlotte 10/8 and Homestead 11/19. His best finishes were the victories at Loudon 7/16 and Darlington 9/3. Hamlin also piloted the shared JGR Nos. 18 and 20 Toyotas in four XFINITY Series races. He picked up 2 wins (Michigan 6/17 and Darlington 9/2), a pole at Darlington and an average finish of 6.8 in those events.
2018: Hamlin as well as sponsor FedEx are contracted thru 2020 with the No. 11 Toyota. Mike Wheeler continues as crew chief for the team. Hamlin will again ride-share the JGR No. 18 Toyota in the XFINITY Series.

2017: Chase Elliott - Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) No. 24 Chevrolet – In 36 races, the Dawsonville, GA driver scored 1 pole, 12 top-5s, 21 top-10s, had a 10.8 average start, a 12.0 average finish, led 560 laps and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. Elliott also made it through the Chase Round of 12 and the Round of 8 but did not advance into the Chase Championship 4. He closed out the season 5th in the standings. His best MENCS season start was the pole at Daytona 2/26. His best finishes were 2nd at Michigan 06/18, Chicago 9/17, Dover 10/1, Charlotte 10/8 and Phoenix 11/12. Elliott also drove the GMS Racing No. 23 Chevrolet Silverado in two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. At Atlanta, he started 9th and finished 5th. At Martinsville, Elliott started on the pole, led a race-high 92 laps and won the event.
2018: Elliott is contracted thru at least 2018 to drive the HMS Chevrolet but the number has changed from 24 to 9. The No. 9 was the number Bill Elliott, his dad, used for most of his Cup career. Alan Gustafson continues as crew chief. Sponsors NAPA Auto Parts, SunEnergy1, Mountain Dew and Hooters signed on thru 2018. Kelley Blue Book will be primary sponsor of the No. 9 thru 2020.

2017: Brad Keselowski - Team Penske No. 2 Ford - In 36 races, the Rochester Hills, MI driver scored 3 wins, 2 poles, 15 top-5s, 21 top-10s, had an 8.8 average start, a 12.4 average finish, led 778 laps and was one of the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs. Keselowski also made it through the Chase Round of 12, the Round of 8 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. He closed out the season 4th in the standings. His best MENCS season starts were the poles at Las Vegas 3/12 and Michigan 8/13. His best finishes were the victories at Atlanta 3/5, Martinsville 04/2 and Talladega 10/15. Keselowski also drove the shared Penske No. 22 Ford in nine XFINITY Series races. He picked up 8 top-5 finishes including 2 wins and a 10th place in the other event. His average finish was a 4.0.
2018: Keselowski is contracted thru the 2020 season to drive the No. 2 Ford. Paul Wolfe will return as crew chief for the team. Miller Lite, Discount Tire, Alliance Truck Parts, Wurth, Horizon Global and Snap-on have committed to multi-year partnerships for the No. 2. Keselowski is also scheduled to run at least seven XFINITY Series races again in the Team Penske shared No. 22 Ford.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2017: Brennan Poole - Chip Ganassi Racing No. 48 Chevrolet - In 33 races, The Woodlands, TX driver scored 1 pole, 4 top-5s, 17 top-10s, had a 9.8 average start, a 13.5 average finish, led 14 laps and was one of the 12 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He made it thru the Round of 12 and the Round of 8 but did not advance into the Chase Championship 4. He closed out the season 6th in the standings. Poole's best NXS season start was the pole at Daytona 6/30. His best finish was 2nd at Kentucky 9/23. He has yet to win an NXS event.
2018: Poole parted ways with Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of 2017. At this time, Poole does not have a ride in any series for 2018.

2017: Cole Custer - Stewart-Haas Racing No. 00 Ford – In 33 races, the Ladera Ranch, CA driver scored 1 win, 7 top-5s, 19 top-10s, had an 8.6 average start, a 13.3 average finish, led 301 laps and was one of the 12 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He made it thru the Round of 12 and the Round of 8 but did not advance into the Chase Championship 4. He closed out the season 5th in the standings. Custer's best NXS season starts were 2nd at Texas 11/4 and Homestead 11/18. His best finish was the win in the 11/18 season-finale at Homestead-Miami. Custer also drove the Mason Mitchell Motorsports No. 78 Ford in the 8/27 ARCA Series road course race at Road America; started 5th, finished 11th.
2018: Stewart-Haas Racing partnered with Biagi-DenBeste to field the No. 00 Ford full-time in 2018. Custer will return as the driver as well as crew chief Jeff Mendering and sponsor Haas Automation.

2017: Daniel Hemric - Richard Childress Racing (RCR) No. 21 Chevrolet – In 33 races, the Kannapolis, NC driver scored 1 pole, 7 top-5s, 16 top-10s, had an 8.0 average start, a 13.2 average finish, led 70 laps and was one of the 12 drivers who made it into the playoffs. He passed thru the Round of 12, the Round of 8 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. He closed out the season 4th in the standings. His best NXS season start was the pole at Richmond 4/29. His best finish was 2nd at Mid-Ohio 8/12. He has yet to win in the NXS.
2018: Hemric will return full-time to pilot RCR's No. 21 Chevrolet. Danny Stockman continues the crew chief role for the team. South Point Hotel & Casino has stepped up to sponsor the No. 21 for all 33 races this season.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2017: Chase Briscoe - Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) No. 29 Ford F-150 - In 23 races, the Mitchell, IN driver scored 1 win, 4 poles, 10 top-5s, 14 top-10s, had a 6.7 average start, an 8.5 average finish, led 288 laps and was one of the eight drivers who made it into the playoffs. He did not advance into the Chase Round of 6 and closed out the season 6th in the standings. Briscoe’s best NCWTS season starts were the poles at Dover 6/2, Gateway 6/17, Martinsville 10/28 and Homestead 11/17. His best finish was the win in the season finale at Homestead-Miami 11/17. Briscoe, winner of the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, was also named the 2017 National Motorsports Press Association's Most Popular Driver in the NCWTS.
2018: At the end of 2017, BKR ceased operations on their NCWTS program. Briscoe was hired by Roush Fenway Racing to share the No. 60 Ford Mustang in the XFINITY Series. Austin Cindric and Ty Majeski are the other two drivers scheduled to pilot the Roush 60 Team entry. Mike Kelley will be crew chief for team.

2017: Ben Rhodes - ThorSport Racing No. 27 Toyota Tundra – In 23 races, the Louisville, KY driver scored 1 win, 1 pole, 6 top-5s, 12 top-10s, had a 7.8 average start, a 12.4 average finish, led 203 laps and was one of the eight drivers who made it into the playoffs. Rhodes also made it through the Chase Round of 8 and the Round of 6 but did not advance into the Chase Championship 4. He closed out the season 5th in the standings. Rhodes' best NCWTS season start was the pole at Pocono 7/29. His best finish was the victory at Las Vegas 9/30.
2018: Rhodes will return for another season but there will be some changes. ThorSport has switched manufacturers from Toyota Tundra to the Ford F-150 for 2018. Switching from the No. 27, Rhodes will pilot the ThorSport Racing No. 41 Ford truck full-time. Eddie Troconis follows Rhodes over to the No. 41 as crew chief for their second year together. Primary sponsorship has yet to be announced.

2017: Matt Crafton - ThorSport Racing No. 88 Toyota Tundra - In 23 races, the Tulare, CA driver scored 1 win, 1 pole, 5 top-5s, 16 top-10s, had a 6.2 average start, a 9.3 average finish, led 321 laps and was one of the eight drivers who made it into the playoffs. Crafton also made it through the Chase Round of 8, the Round of 6 and advanced into the Chase Championship 4 for the season finale at Homestead-Miami. He closed out the season 4th in the standings. Crafton's best NCWTS season start was the pole at Michigan 8/12 and best finish was the win at Eldora on 7/19.
2018: Crafton returns to ThorSport Racing driving the No. 88 Ford F-150 (was a Toyota in 2017). Crew chief Carl Joiner and primary sponsor Menards return as well.

Tentative 2018 Cup Series Lineup - Full-time teams

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

00

? Derrike Cope

 StarCom (Now has charter from RCR)

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

15

?

?

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

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 / Kappa

Ford

GoFAS Racing

33

?

?

Chevrolet

Circle Sport

34

Michael McDowell

Love's Travel Stops / K-LOVE

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

37

Chris Buescher

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

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

38

David Ragan

Shriners Hospitals for Children / 100Bulbs.com

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 Baked Beans/ Louisiana Hot Sauce

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

48

Jimmie Johnson

Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools / Jimmie Johnson Foundation

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

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

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 for 00 Chevrolet)

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

30

?

?

Chevrolet

The Motorsports Group

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

 

 

 Teams With An Used Charter Available for Lease/Sale

 Front Row Motorsports



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



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