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Anthony Ballantoni

Look Ahead

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Look Ahead: Daytona in 76 days

Monday, December 3, 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 Camping World Truck Series (Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019). Since many teams have yet to firm up their 2019 plans, we will include updates in future columns.
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With 76 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: Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet) - In 36 races, the Joplin, MO driver scored two top-fives, 10 top-tens, had an 18.1 average start, an 18.9 average finish, led nine laps, earned 683 points and closed out the season 20th in the standings. McMurray's best MENCS season start was 3rd at Pocono (6/3) and best finish was 2nd on the Charlotte road course (9/30). His last MENCS win was October 20, 2018 at Talladega Superspeedway. McMurray also drove Ganassi's No. 42 Camaro in three XFINITY Series races; best start 5th, best finish 5th and had a 14.1 average finish.
2019: At this time, McMurray does not have a firm plan for 2019. He will not return full-time in the Cup Series but may run the season-opening Daytona 500 for Chip Ganassi Racing and then, possibly, retire.
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2018: Paul Menard (Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford) - In 36 races, the Eau Claire, WI driver scored one pole, one top-five, seven top-tens, had a 17.2 average start, a 19.4 average finish, led 14 laps earned 692 points and closed out the season 19th in the standings. Menards' best season start was the pole at Chicago (7/1), best finish was 5th at Michigan (6/10). His last MENCS win was at Indianapolis on July 31, 2011. Menard also piloted Team Penske's No. 22 Mustang in four XFINITY Series races; best start 2nd, best finish 5th, both in the June 9th Michigan race.
2019: No changes planned for Menard. He will continue with Wood Brothers, same No. 21 team, crew chief (Greg Erwin) and same sponsors.
-
NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2018: Joey Gase (Go Green Racing No. 35 Chevrolet) - In 33 races, the Cedar Rapids, IA driver had a 24.0 average start, a 22.2 average finish, earned 495 points and closed out the season 20th in the standings. Gase’s best NXS season start was 15th at Las Vegas (9/15) and best finishes were 15th at Indianapolis (9/10), Kansas (10/20) and Las Vegas (9/15). Gase made eight Cup starts for various teams with a best finish of 18th at Talladega (10/15) for StarCom Racing.
2019: Gase does not have any firm plans at this time.
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2018: Garrett Smithley (JD Motorsports Nos. 0, 4 and 15 Chevrolets) - In 33 races, the Peachtree City, GA driver scored one top-five, two top-tens, had a 27.7 average start, a 22.1 average finish, led five laps, earned 496 points and closed out the season 19th in the standings. Smithley's best NXS season start was 19th at Texas (4/7) and best finish was 5th at Daytona (2/17). He also made two Cup starts for StarCom Racing and one for Jay Robinson with a best finish of 32nd place.
2019: No plans for Smithley at this point. JD Motorsports has yet to announce their driver lineup for next season.
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NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS):
2018: Jennifer Jo Cobb (Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing No. 10 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 21 races, the Kansas City, KS driver had a 28.6 average start, a 24.3 average finish, led four laps, earned 271 points and closed out the season 20th in the standings. Cobb's best truck season start was 22nd and best finish was 11th, both at Talladega (10/13). She also entered the 4/28 Talladega XFINITY Series race driving a Toyota for JP Motorsports; started 39th and finished 29th.
2019: No firm plans announced at this time but, since Cobb is not only the driver, she is also the team owner and most likely will field the No. 10 truck for another full season.
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2018: Jesse Little (JJL Motorsports No. 97 Ford F-150) – In nine races, the Sherrills Ford, NC driver scored six top-tens, had a 13.0 average start, an 11.4 average finish, led two laps, earned 275 points and closed out the season 19th in the standings. Little's best truck season start was fifth at Dover (5/4) and best finish was sixth at Iowa (6/16). He also entered two Cup Series races with finishes of 35th at both Kentucky and Bristol.
2019: At this time, JJL Motorsports owner Jason Little says the organization continues to prepare for the 2019 season is hoping to compete full-time. Jesse Little will return as driver of the No. 97, but the team needs additional partners for next year to make the full-time season happen.

Tentative 2019 Cup Series Lineup - Full-time teams

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

00

??

VRX Simulators

Chevrolet

StarCom Racing

1

??

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

Ryan Newman

 ??

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

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

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

23

??

??

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

24

William Byron

Liberty University / Axalta / UniFirst

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

31

Daniel Hemric - R

Bass Pro Shops / Cabela's / Caterpillar /  Grainger / Liberty National

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

32

??

Can-Am / Keen Parts/Corvetteparts.ne

Ford

GoFAS Racing

34

Michael McDowell

Love's Travel Stops / K-LOVE

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

??

Monster Energy / Haas Automation

Ford

Stewart-Haas Racing

42

Kyle Larson

Credit One Bank / DC Solar

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

43

Darrell Wallace Jr.

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

??

??

??

Rick Ware Racing

72

??

??

Chevrolet

TriStar Motorsports

88

Alex Bowman

Nationwide Insurance/Axalta/Valvoline

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

95

Matt DiBenedetto

WRL General Contractors/Procore

Chevrolet

Leavine Family Racing

 

 

R - Rookie of The Year candidate

 

 

         

 



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



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