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Ryan Newman
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Look Ahead

Countdown to the 500: 69 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 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 69 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: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford) - In 36 races, the Olive Branch, MS driver scored three top-fives, five top-tens, had a 14.8 average start, a 19.4 average finish, led 133 laps, earned 701 points and closed out the season 18th in the standings. Stenhouse's best MENCS season start was 3rd at Phoenix (11/11) and best finish was also 3rd at Talladega (10/14). His last MENCS win was July 1, 2017 at Daytona International Speedway.
2019: Stenhouse is contracted thru at least the next season with Roush Fenway and will continue in the No. 17 Ford. At this time, Brian Pattie remains crew chief for the team and all sponsors will return as well.
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2018: Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) - In 36 races, the South Bend, IN driver scored nine top-tens, had a 15.8 average start, a 17.2 average finish, led 57 laps, earned 769 points and closed out the season 17th in the standings. Newman's best MENCS season start was 2nd at Atlanta (2/25) and best finish was 6th at Loudon (7/22). His last MENCS win was March 19, 2017 at Phoenix International Raceway. Newman also piloted Jordan Anderson's No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado in the truck series 7/18 race at the Eldora dirt track; started 10th, finished 30th.
2019: Newman moves to Roush Fenway Racing this season driving the No. 6 Ford full-time. He will have Scott Graves (formerly at Joe Gibbs Racing) on top of the pit box as the team crew chief. Sponsors for the No. 6, at this time, remain in place. No word on additional sponsorship following Newman's move to the team. Newman is contracted thru at least 2021 to pilot the No. 6 Mustang GT. Daniel Hemric, one of RCR's XFINITY Series drivers in 2018, moves up to the Cup series to replace Newman in the No. 31 Chevy for the 2019 season.
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NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2018: Spencer Gallagher (No. 23 GMS Racing No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro) - In 19 races, the Las Vegas, NV driver scored one win, three top-fives, 10 top-tens, had a 13.1 average start, a 12.2 average finish, led three laps, earned 524 points and closed out the season 18th in the standings. Gallagher's best NXS season start was 3rd at Talladega (4/28) and best finish was the win (his first and last in the series) in the same Talladega event.
2019: Gallagher has decided to step back from active driving and take on a management role at his family-owned GMS Racing organization. John Hunter Nemechek has already been announced as the 2019 full-time driver for the GMS No. 23 Camaro.
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2018: Alex Labbe (DGM Racing No. 36 Chevrolet) - In 33 races, the St. Albert, Quebec driver scored one top-ten, had a 20.5 average start, a 20.7 average finish, led four laps, earned 540 points and closed out the season 17th in the standings. Labbe's best NXS season start was 5th at the Charlotte Roval (9/29) and best finish was 9th at Mid-Ohio (8/11). The 2017 NASCAR Pinty's Series Champion returned to the NPS for one race in his native Quebec province. He drove Dave Jacombs' No. 36 Chevrolet in the August 12th Pinty's race at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres; started at the rear of the field and finished 3rd.
2019: No plans for Labbe at this point. Mario Gosselin's DGM Racing has yet to announce their driver lineup for 2019 but Labbe has been the exclusive driver for the past three seasons.
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NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS):
2018: Harrison Burton (Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota Tundra) – In eight races, the Huntersville, NC driver scored one pole, three top-fives, six top-tens, had a 9.0 average start, a 7.1 average finish, led 76 laps, earned 277 points and closed out the season 18th in the standings. His best truck season start was the pole at Iowa (6/16) and best finishes were 3rd place in the Iowa race and at Phoenix (11/9). Besides his part-time truck schedule, Burton made five NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts in Matthew Miller's No. 12 Toyota; scored two poles, four top-five finishes, averaged a 5.6 start and a 4.2 finish. He also piloted Miller's No. 12 Toyota in nine ARCA Racing events; scored one win (Pocono), eight top-tens and had a 6.1 average finish. Finally, Burton won the pole for this year's Snowball Derby at Florida's Five Flags Speedway. He led a race-high 111 laps and finished the 300-lap event in 10th place.
2019: Burton will race full-time in the NGOTS driving Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra. His crew chief has not been announced at this time.
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2018: Wendell Chavous (Premium Motorsports No. 49 Chevrolet Silverado) – In 19 races, the Hephzibah, GA driver scored one top-five, one top-ten, had a 25.8 average start, a 19.3 average finish, led one lap, earned 336 points and closed out the season 17th in the standings. Chavous' best truck season start was 18th at Kansas (5/11) and best finish was 5th at Talladega (10/13).
2019: Wendell Chavous made an announcement via FaceBook and Twitter in October stating that he was stepping away from NASCAR competition indefinitely following that weekend’s truck series race at Talladega Superspeedway. He plans to spend more time with his young family and also at the growing steel barn truss business he owns.
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Tentative 2019 Cup Series Lineup

   

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

00

??

VRX Simulators

Chevrolet

StarCom Racing

1

Kurt Busch

Monster Energy / McDonalds / Cessna

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

AdvoCare / Performance Plus Oil / Wyndham Rewards

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

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

36

Matt Tifft - R

?

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

??

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

52

??

??

??

Rick Ware Racing

72

??

??

Chevrolet

TriStar Motorsports

77

??

??

Chevrolet

Spire Motorsports

88

Alex Bowman

Nationwide Insurance/Axalta/Valvoline

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

95

Matt DiBenedetto

WRL General Contractors/Procore

Chevrolet

Leavine Family Racing

97

Tanner Berryhill - R

??

Toyota

Obaika Motorsports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R - Rookie of The Year candidate

 

 

 

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