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Look Ahead

Countdown to the 500: 67 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 2016 and what’s ahead for them in 2017. We will look at drivers who finished in the top 40 in the Sprint Cup Series (becomes the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017) point standings and those who ended the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series standings in the top 30 in points. Since many teams have yet to firm up their 2017 plans, follow Rotoworld NASCAR Headlines for the latest updates.

With 67 days to go until the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, here are a few of the driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2017 Cup driver/team lineups.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS):
2016
: Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet SS. In 18 races, the Kannapolis, NC driver led 53 laps, scored five top-5s, six top-10s, had  a 16.3 average start, a 15.6 average finish, earned 461 points and closed out the season 32nd in the standings. After the 18th race of the season, Earnhardt voluntarily stepped out of the No. 88 to get medical attention for the effects of concussions suffered in earlier wrecks. He remained out of the car for the rest of the season (Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman shared the No. 88 subbing for Earnhardt).
Best 2016 NSCS start: 2nd – Dover 5/15
Best finishes: 2nd - Atlanta 2/28, Texas 4/9, Bristol 4/17 and Pocono 6/6
Last career NSCS win: Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015.
2017: Following a test session December 7th at Darlington Raceway, 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. Dale Jr. will also share the JR Motorsports No. 5 Camaro for select races in the XFINITY Series with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne.

2016: Brian Scott - Richard Petty Motorsports No. 44 Ford Fusion. In 36 races, the Boise, ID driver led six laps, scored one top-5, one top-10, had a 28.3 average start, a 27.7 average finish, earned 481 points and closed out the season 31st in the standings.
Best 2016 NSCS start: 10th – Atlanta 2/28
Best 2016 finishes: 2nd – Talladega 10/23
Last career NSCS win: None so far.
2017: On November 10th, Scott made the personal decision to focus on his young and growing family and announced he would retire from full-time competition in NASCAR at the end of the 2016 season. At this time, he is officially retired from racing.

2016: Michael McDowell - Leavine Family-Circle Sport Racing No. 95 Chevrolet SS. In 31 races, the Phoenix, AZ driver scored two top-10s, had a 28.8 average start, a 24.5 average finish, earned 500 points and closed out the season 30th in the standings. McDowell made one XFINITY Series start in August driving the Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin “Road America” road course. He started second, led 24 laps of the 48 lap event and scored his first career victory in one of NASCAR’s top three series.
Best 2016 NSCS start: 11th – Watkins Glen 8/7
Best 2016 finishes: 10th – Daytona 7/2 and Homestead 11/20
Last career NSCS win: None so far.
2017: McDowell will return full-time to the Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet. In 2016, the team shared a NASCAR charter with Circle Sport Racing (No. 33 Chevrolet). In 2017, Circle Sport is leasing the charter to LFR so McDowell will run the No. 95 in every race.

2016: Landon Cassill - Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford Fusion. In 36 races, the Cedar Rapids, IA driver led 20 laps, had a 31.6 average start, a 26.3 average finish, earned 530 points and closed out the season 30th in the standings.
Best 2016 NSCS start: 24th – Daytona 2/21
Best 2016 finish: 11th – Talladega 5/1
Last career NSCS win: None so far.
2017: Landon Cassill will return to Front Row Motorsports but will switch to the No. 34 Ford. David Ragan, who parted ways with BK Racing at the end of 2016, drove for FRM from 2012 to 2015 and earned its first win. Ragan will rejoin the organization to drive the No. 38 Ford.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2016
: Jeb Burton - Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford Mustang (11 starts) and Biagi-DenBeste Racing No. 98 Ford Mustang (3 starts). In 14 races, the Halifax, VA driver led one lap, scored one top-10, had a 15.8 average start, a 17.1 average finish, earned 335 points and closed out the season 24th in the standings. He also drove Go Fas Racing’s No. 32 Ford Fusion in the two Sprint Cup races at Pocono Raceway; finished 29th and 36th.
Best 2016 NXS start: 7th – Auto Club 3/19
Best 2016 finish: 10th – Atlanta 2/27
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2017: No announced plans at this time in any series.

2016: Justin Marks - Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro. In 17 races, the Rocklin, CA driver led 43 laps, scored one win, had a 17.6 average start, a 20.9 average finish, earned 347 points and closed out the season 23rd in the standings. He split time in the No. 42 with Sprint Cup regular Kyle Larson. Marks also drove the Braun Racing No. 32 Toyota Tundra in one Camping World Truck Series race; started 14th, finished 22nd.
Best 2016 NXS start: 3rd – Road America 8/27
Best 2016 finish: Win – Mid-Ohio 8/13
Last career NXS win: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13, 2016.
2017: The No. 42 Camaro will again be a Chip Ganassi Racing shared ride. Former Camping World Truck Series driver Tyler Reddick will drive at least 18 races in the car. Monster Energy Cup regular Kyle Larson will drive most of the remainder events. No firm plans at this time, but Marks may enter some races, especially at the road courses, in the No. 42.

2016: David Starr - TriStar Motors No. 44 Toyota (7 starts) and Ryan Sieg Racing No. 93 Chevrolet Camaro (16 starts). In 23 races, the Houston, TX driver had a 27.8 average start, a 24.7 average finish, earned 374 points and closed out the season 22nd in the standings.
Best 2016 NXS start: 22nd – Phoenix 3/12
Best 2016 finish: 16th – Bristol 8/19
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2017: At this time, no firm plans announced. Starr will most likely return to the Ryan Sieg Racing No. 93 Camaro.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2016
: Parker Kligerman – RBR Motorsports No. 92 Ford F-150 (10 starts) and Townley Racing No. 05 Chevrolet Silverado (1 start subbing for injured John Wes Townley). In 11 races, the Westport, CT driver scored one top-5, three top-10s, had an 18.3 average start, an 18.1 average finish, earned 164 points and closed out the season 24th in the standings. He also entered two ARCA Series races. One in Cunningham Motorsports’ No. 22 Dodge; started on the pole, led 56 laps of the 67-lap event and won the race. The other ARCA start was another fill-in for John Wes Townley in the Townley Racing No. 05 Chevrolet; started on the pole and finished eighth. Kligerman did some TV broadcasting and pit reporting for NBC Sports as well.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: 6th – Kentucky 7/7
Best 2016 finish: 3rd - Daytona 2/19
Last career NCWTS win: Talladega Superspeedway on October 6, 2012.
2017: No official plans at this time. Kligerman will continue his role at NBC Sports. He is also open to run for RBR Motorsports if sponsorship can be obtained.

2016: Tommy Joe Martins - Martins Motorsports No. 44 Chevrolet Silverado. In 20 races, the Como, MS driver led seven laps, had a 25.5 average start, a 24.4 average finish, earned 176 points and closed out the season 23rd in the standings.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: 19th – Kansas 5/6
Best 2016 finish: 15th – Michigan 8/27
Last career NCWTS win: None so far.
2017: No firm plans announced at this time but Martins will likely enter his family-owned No. 44 truck in as many races as possible again in 2017.

2016: Grant Enfinger – GMS Racing No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado (7 starts) and RBR Motorsports No. 92 Ford F-150 (1 start). In 8 races, the Fairhope, AL driver led 49 laps, scored one win (in the No. 33), one pole (in the No. 33), two top-5s, five top-10s, had a 10.2 average start, a 10.6 average finish, earned 185 points and closed out the season 22nd in the standings. Enfinger also entered two ARCA Series races. The first in Brett Holmes’ No. 23 Chevrolet; started 13th, led 17 laps of 80 run and won the event. The other was in Cunningham Motorsports No. 22 Ford; started on the pole, led 39 laps of the first 48 run in the 100-lap event but dropped out due to ‘overheating’.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: Pole – Daytona 2/19
Best 2016 finish: Win – Talladega 10/22
Last career NCWTS win: Talladega Superspeedway on October 22, 2016.
2017: No firm plans at this time.

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Lineup full-time teams(Tentative)

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

1

Jamie McMurray

Cessna/McDonald’s/

GearWrench

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

2

Brad Keselowski

Miller Lite/Alliance Truck Parts/Wurth/Autotrader

Ford

Team Penske

3

Austin Dillon

Dow//Bass Pro Shops/

American Ethanol/AAA

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

4

Kevin Harvick

Busch Beer/Jimmie Johns/

Mobil 1

Ford

Stewart  Haas Racing

5

Kasey Kahne

Farmers Insurance/Great Clips/

LiftMaster/Quicken Loans/ Panasonic/Mountain Dew/

AARP/UniFirst

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

6

Trevor Bayne

AdvoCare/Liberty National

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

10

Danica Patrick

Nature’s Bakery/Aspen Dental/ TaxACT/Mobil 1/Code 3 Assoc.

Ford

Stewart  Haas Racing

11

Denny Hamlin

FedEx/Sport Clips

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

13

Ty Dillon

Geico

Chevrolet

Germain Racing

14

Clint Bowyer

Haas Automation

Ford

Stewart Haas Racing

16

?

?

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Fastenal/Fifth Third Bank/

SunnyD

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

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

20

Matt Kenseth

DeWalt

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

21

Ryan Blaney

Motorcraft/Quick Lane/SKF

Ford

Wood Brothers Racing

22

Joey Logano

Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader/AAA

Ford

Team Penske

23

Joey Gase

Best Home Furnishings (Daytona 500 only)

Toyota

BK Racing

24

Chase Elliott

NAPA Auto Parts/3M/Kelley Blue Book/Mountain Dew/SunEnergy1

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

27

Paul Menard

Menards

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

31

Ryan Newman

Caterpillar/Grainger

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

32

Matt DiBenedetto

Can-Am

Ford

GoFAS Racing

34

Landon Cassill

???

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

37

Chris Buescher

???

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

38

David Ragan

???

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

41

Kurt Busch

Monster Energy/Haas Automation/

State Water Heaters

 

Ford

Stewart Haas Racing

42

Kyle Larson

Target/Energizer/Coca-Cola/AXE/Clorox

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

43

Aric Almirola

Smithfield Foods/U.S. Air Force

Ford

Richard Petty 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

77

Erik Jones *

5-Hour Energy

Toyota

Furniture Row Racing

78

Martin Truex Jr.

Furniture Row/

Denver Mattresses/Bass Pro Shops/5-Hour Energy

Toyota

Furniture Row Racing

83

?

?

Toyota

BK Racing

88

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Nationwide/Axalta Coatings/

Diet Mountain Dew

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

95

Michael McDowell

?

Chevrolet

Leavine Family Racing

 

 

* Rookie of The Year candidate

 

 

Part-time/Questionable teams

7

Regan Smith

Nikko RC/Toy State

Chevrolet

Tommy Baldwin Racing

15

**

 

 

 

30

**

???

Chevrolet

The Motorsports Group

?33

**

???

Chevrolet

Circle Sport

44

**

 

 

Richard Petty Motorsports

56

?

?

?

?

55

**

?

?

Premium Motorsports

98

**

?

?

Premium Motorsports

 

 

 ** No Charter

 

 

 

Anthony Ballantoni

Anthony Ballantoni is a Senior Sports Writer at NBC Sports Edge.