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Look Ahead

Cup racing returns in 20 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 20 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
: Joey Logano (Team Penske #22 Ford Fusion) - In 36 races, the Middletown, CT driver led 1,431 laps, scored six wins, six poles, 22 top-5s, 28 top-10s, had a 6.9 average start, a 9.2 average finish, earned 2360 points and closed out the season sixth in the standings. Logano made the top-16 Chase lineup after Richmond. He was among the 12 drivers who made it through the Challenger Round and also the eight who made it through the Contender Round. He was one of the four drivers cut after the November 15th race at Phoenix Int’l Raceway. Logano also drove Team Penske’s #22 and #12 Mustangs in 11 XFINITY Series races collecting four wins, four poles, a 4.0 average start and an average finish of 3.8. Teammate Brad Keselowski put Logano in his BKR #29 Ford F-150 for the Martinsville truck race. He started on the pole, led 150 laps and won the 258-lap event.
Best 2015 starts: POLE – Atlanta 3/1, Martinsville 3/29, Richmond 4/26, Kansas 5/9, Richmond 9/12 and Martinsville 11/1
Best 2015 finishes: WIN – Daytona 2/22, Watkins Glen 8/9, Bristol 8/22, Kansas 10/18, Charlotte 10/11 and Talladega 10/25
Last career NSCS win: Talladega Superspeedway on October 25, 2015.
2016: Logano is contracted thru 2018 to drive Team Penske’s #22 Ford Fusion. Todd Gordon continues as crew chief. Shell-Pennzoil and Autotrader will cover some of the expenses. No firm XFINITY Series plans for Team Penske but Logano will most likely be one of the drivers taking turns in the NXS events.

2015: Carl Edwards (Joe Gibbs Racing #19 Toyota Camry) - In 33 races, the Columbia, MO driver led 376 laps, scored two wins, three poles, seven top-5s, 15 top-10s, had a 9.1 average start, a 14.0 average finish, earned 2368 points and closed out the season fifth in the standings. Edwards made the top-16 Chase lineup after Richmond. He was among the 12 drivers who made it through the Challenger Round and also the eight who made it through the Contender Round. He was one of the four drivers cut after the November 15th race at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.
Best 2015 starts: POLE – Loudon 7/19, Indianapolis 7/26 and Loudon 09/27
Best 2015 finishes: WIN – Charlotte 5/24 and Darlington 9/6
Last career NSCS win: Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015.
2016: Edwards is contracted thru 2017 to drive JGR’s #19 Camry. Dave Rogers, who was crew chief for Denny Hamlin in 2015, will now lead the #19 team in the same role. Arris, Stanley, Sport Clips, Subway and Comcast/XFINITY will be the primary sponsors.

2015: Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing #78 Chevrolet SS) - In 36 races, the Mayetta, NJ driver led 567 laps, scored one win, eight top-5s, 22 top-10s, had a 12.5 average start, a 12.2 average finish, earned 5032 points and closed out the season fourth in the standings. Truex made the top-16 Chase lineup after Richmond. He was among the 12 drivers who made it through the Challenger Round, among the eight who made it through the Contender Round and also among the Final Four heading into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Best 2015 starts: 2nd – Dover 5/31, Watkins Glen 8/9 and Martinsville 11/1
Best 2015 finish: WIN – Pocono 6/7
Last career NSCS win: Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015.
2016: Truex Jr. is contracted thru 2016 to drive FRR’s #78. After a technical alliance was formed with Joe Gibbs Racing, the team switched from Chevrolets to Toyota Camry’s for the 2016 season. Cole Pearn returns as crew chief for the team. Furniture Row will sponsor the majority of the races. Bass Pro Shops came on board to sponsor nine races including the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.

NSCS UPDATES:
- BK Racing announced their two-car NSCS lineup for 2016. David Ragan will pilot the #23 Dr Pepper Toyota Camry and Matt DiBenedetto will be behind the wheel of the #83 Dustless Blasting Toyota.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2015
: Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Toyota Camry) - In 33 races, the Monterrey, Mexico driver led 83 laps, scored three poles, eight top-5s, 18 top-10s, had an 8.1 average start, an 11.7 average finish, earned 1078 points and closed out the season fifth in the standings. Suarez won the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year title in the NXS. He also made 13 NCWTS starts in the Kyle Busch Motorsports #51 Toyota Tundra. Suarez scored seven top-5s, 10 top-10s and averaged a 9.2 finish in those truck races. Venturini Motorsports put Suarez in their ARCA Racing Series Toyota for four races; started all top-6 (including a pole) and averaged a 12.5 finish.
Best 2015 starts: POLE – Daytona 7/4, Iowa 8/1 and Kentucky 9/26
Best 2015 finish: 2nd – Bristol 4/18
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2016: Suarez returns to JGR for 2016 with two changes. The Camry’s car number switches from #18 to #19 and Scott Graves, former crew chief for Chris Buescher at Roush Fenway Racing, has joined JGR to lead Suarez’s team this season. ARRIS continues as primary sponsor for the team.

2015: Regan Smith (JR Motorsports #7 Chevrolet Camaro) – In 33 races, the Cato, NY driver led 160 laps, scored two wins, 11 top-5s, 26 top-10s, had an 8.7 average start, a 9.0 average finish, earned 1168 points and closed out the season fourth in the standings. He also filled in for Kurt Busch (#41 Chevrolet) driving the first three 2015 Sprint Cup races while Busch served a NASCAR suspension.  Smith filled in for Kyle Larson (#42 Chevrolet) at the Martinsville Cup race at the end of March. Larson was not cleared for one race due to a temporary medical condition. Smith averaged a 16.2 finish in those four Cup starts.
Best 2015 starts: 3rd – Atlanta 2/28, Kentucky 9/26 and Kansas 10/17
Best 2015 finishes: WIN – Mid-Ohio 8/15 and Dover 10/3
Last career NXS win: Dover International Speedway on October 3, 2015.
2016: Smith parted ways with JRM at the end of 2015 and was hired by Tommy Baldwin Racing to drive the #7 Chevrolet SS in the Sprint Cup Series. Nikko RC and Toy State are primary sponsors on the Cup car. Tommy Baldwin has made several personnel changes in TBR but will continue the dual role of owner and crew chief on the #7 in 2016.

NXS UPDATES:
- JD Motorsports with Gary Keller will field three Chevrolets this season in the NXS. Ross Chastain returns to drive the #40. Former NASCAR Whelen Modified champion Ryan Preece takes over JDM’s #01. Eric McClure, formerly with TriStar Motorsports, joins JDM to drive the #0 Camaro.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2015
: Timothy Peters (Red Horse Racing #17 Toyota Tundra) – In 23 races, the Providence, NC driver led 115 laps, scored two wins, one pole, eight top-5s, 16 top-10s, had an 11.3 average start, a 9.6 average finish, earned 804 points and closed out the season fifth in the standings.
Best 2015 start: POLE – Talladega 10/24
Best 2015 finishes: WIN – Talladega 10/24 and Phoenix 11/13
Last career NCWTS win: Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2015.
2016: Peters returns as pilot of the #17 Toyota Tundra sponsored by Red Horse Racing. Shane Huffman, joining RHR as crew chief, is the only known change for the #17 Tundra team.

2015: Johnny Sauter (ThorSport Racing #98 Toyota Tundra) – In 23 races, the Necedah, WI driver led 118 laps, scored seven top-5s, 16 top-10s, had an 11.9 average start, a 9.2 average finish, earned 809 points and closed out the season fourth in the standings. Sauter also drove BK Racing’s #83 Toyota Camry in the Sprint Cup season-opener at Daytona; started 36th, finished 19th.
Best 2015 start: 3rd – Chicago 9/19
Best 2015 finishes: 3rd – Kansas 5/8, Gateway 6/13 and Loudon 9/26
Last career NCWTS win: Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014.
2016: Sauter and ThorSport parted ways at the end of 2015. He was hired by GMS Racing to drive the #21 Chevrolet Silverado full-time in 2016. Marcus Richmond, formerly crew chief at Red Horse Racing, was hired at GMS to lead Sauter’s crew this season. No sponsor has been announced at this time for the #21 truck.

NCWTS UPDATES:
- Jordan Anderson, native of Columbia, SC, will drive the Bolen Motorsports #66 ‘Columbia, SC - Famously Hot’ Chevrolet Silverado full-time in 2016.

 

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

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

1

Jamie McMurray

Cessna/McDonald’s/Sherwin Williams

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

2

Brad Keselowski

Miller Lite/Alliance Truck Parts/Wurth/Autotrader

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/GreatClips/LiftMaster/Quicken Loans/ Panasonic/Mountain Dew

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

6

Trevor Bayne

AdvoCare

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

7

Regan Smith

Nikko RC/Toy State

Chevrolet

Tommy Baldwin Racing

10

Danica Patrick

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

Chevrolet

Stewart  Haas Racing

11

Denny Hamlin

FedEx/Sport 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/KFC

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/Autotrader

Ford

Team Penske

23

David Ragan

Dr Pepper

Toyota

BK Racing

24

Chase Elliott *

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

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/Keen Parts/ Corvetteparts.net

Ford

GoFAS Racing

34

Chris Buescher *

Love’s Travel Stops/CSX

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

38

Landon Cassill

???

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/Fresh from Florida/U.S. Air Force/STP

Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports

44

Brian Scott *

Shore Lodge/White Tail/Albertson’s/Twisted Tea/GoBowling.com/Goody’s

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/Bass Pro Shops

Toyota

Furniture Row Racing

83

Matt DiBenedetto

Dustless Blasting/Cosmo Motors

Toyota

BK Racing

88

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Nationwide/Axalta Coatings/TaxSlayer.com/Diet Mountain Dew

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

95

Michael McDowell

K-LOVE/Thrivent Financial (26 races)

Chevrolet

Leavine Family Racing-Circle Sport

95

Ty Dillon

Cheerios/Kroger (10 races)

Chevrolet

Leavine Family Racing-Circle Sport

 

 

* Rookie of The Year candidate

 

 

Part-time/Questionable teams

26

???

???

Toyota

BK Racing

35

???

???

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

40

???

???

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

62

???

???

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

66

???

???

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

98

???

???

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

99

???

???

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

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