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Look Ahead

Cup racing season in 52 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 52 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
: Danica Patrick – Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Chevrolet SS - In 36 races, the Roscoe, IL driver led 30 laps, had a 25.1 average start, a 22.0 average finish, earned 689 points and closed out the season 24th in the standings.
Best 2016 NSCS start: 11th – Sonoma 6/26
Best finish: 11th – Charlotte 10/9
Last career NSCS win: None so far.
2017: Patrick is contracted thru 2018 to drive the SHR No. 10. The team will switch from Chevrolets to Ford Fusions in 2017. Crew chief Billy Scott and all primary sponsors will continue this season.

2016: Greg Biffle – Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford Fusion - In 36 races, the Vancouver, WA driver led 42 laps, earned one pole, scored one top-5, three top-10s, had a 20.2 average start, a 21.6 average finish, earned 691 points and closed out the season 23rd in the standings.
Best 2016 NSCS start: Pole – Daytona 7/2
Best 2016 finish: 5th – Loudon 7/17
Last career NSCS win: Michigan International Speedway on June 16, 2013.
2017: At the end of 2016, Greg Biffle and Roush Fenway Racing parted ways on good terms. Biffle, RFR’s longest-tenured driver, drove the No. 16 Sprint Cup Series entry since 2002. RFR is cutting back to two full-time teams in 2017 and may only field the No. 16 Ford on a part-time basis. Biffle does not have a ride at this time but is rumored to be near a deal with a new team.

2016: Trevor Bayne – Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford Fusion - In 36 races, the Knoxville, TN driver, led 34 laps, scored two top-5s, five top-10s, had a 20.4 average start, a 19.9 average finish, earned 762 points and closed out the season 22nd in the standings. Bayne also made one XFINITY Series start in RFR’s No. 60 Ford Mustang. He started fifth and finished seventh in the August race at the Watkins Glen International road course.
Best 2016 NSCS start: 3rd – Atlanta 2/28
Best 2016 finish: 3rd – Daytona 7/2
Last career NSCS win: Daytona Int’l Speedway on February 20, 2011.
2017: Bayne is contracted to drive the RFR No. 6 Ford thru 2019. AdvoCare, his primary sponsor, has also extended to the end of 2019. As mentioned above under Greg Biffle’s plans, RFR is cutting back to just two full-time teams (Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). Matt Puccia will return in the role of crew chief for Bayne’s No. 6 team.

2016: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford Fusion - In 36 races, the Olive Branch, MS driver led six laps, scored four top-5s, six top-10s, had a 17.4 average start, a 19.6 average finish, earned 772 points and closed out the season 21st in the standings. Stenhouse also made one XFINITY Series start, his first NXS race in three years, in RFR’s No. 60 Ford Mustang. He started 13th and finished third in the November race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Best 2016 NSCS start: 3rd – Charlotte 5/29
Best 2016 finish: 2nd – Bristol 8/20
Last career NSCS win: None so far.
2017: Stenhouse is signed thru 2017 to return to RFR’s No. 17 Ford. Sponsorship continues as well but he will have a new crew chief. Brian Pattie, who was crew chief on Greg Biffle’s No. 16 last season, will take over leading No. 17 team.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2016
: Garrett Smithley – JD Motorsports No. 0 Chevrolet Camaro - In 32 races, the Peachtree City, GA driver had a 28.2 average start, a 24.0 average finish, earned 544 points and closed out the season 18th in the standings. Smithley also entered three Camping World Truck Series races; one in MB Motorsports’ No. 63 Chevy Silverado (finished 18th) and two in the SS Green Light Racing No. 07 Silverado (finished 29th and 21st).
Best 2016 NXS starts: 20th – Michigan 6/11 and Iowa 7/30
Best 2016 finish: 12th – Talladega 4/30
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2017: No firm plans at this time but Smithley is planning on a return to the JD Motorsports Camaro for another full season.

2016: Ryan Preece – JD Motorsports No. 01 Chevrolet Camaro – In 33 races, the Berlin, CT driver led three laps, scored one top-10, had a 23.1 average start, a 23.0 average finish, earned 597 points and closed out the season 17th in the standings. Preece also entered several NASCAR ‘Home Track’ series races for various teams. He scored top-10s in both of his two starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He averaged an 8.0 start and a 10.0 finish (including two second-place finishes) in eight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts. Finally, Preece entered two NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races; finished 12th at Concord and won the October event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Best 2016 NXS start: 12th – Loudon
Best 2016 finish: 10th – Darlington 9/3
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2017: Preece left the XFINITY Series at the end of 2016. NASCAR has ‘unified’ the Whelen Modified (northern tour) and the Whelen Southern Modified into a single Whelen Modified Tour in 2017. Drivers from both tours will compete together for a single championship. Preece, the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion will return to that series, most likely with his former Eddie Partridge-owned team, to attempt another series championship.

2016: Ross Chastain – JD Motorsports No. 4 Chevrolet Camaro – In 33 races, the Alva, FL driver led seven laps, had a 19.8 average start, a 20.8 average finish, earned 670 points and closed out the season 16th in the standings. He also drove Jeff Bolen’s No. 66 Chevrolet Silverado in the October Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway; started 26th and finished 15th.
Best 2016 NXS start: 11th – Dover 10/2
Best 2016 finish: 11th – Daytona 7/1
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2017: At this time, JD Motorsports plans on fielding three full-time teams this season. Chastain is the only driver who has been announced as the driver of one of those Chevrolets. He will, again, pilot the No. 4 Florida Watermelon Association Camaro with Bryan Berry returning as crew chief.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2016
: Ryan Truex – Hattori Racing Enterprises No. 81 Toyota Tundra - In 15 races, the Mayetta, NJ driver led 14 laps, scored one top-5, four top-10s, had a 17.9 average start, a 16.4 average finish, earned 250 points and closed out the season 18th in the standings.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: 6th – Gateway 6/25
Best 2016 finish: 2nd – Daytona 2/19
Last career NCWTS win: None so far.
2017: No plans at this time on Hattori Racing fielding a truck or if Truex has a ride with any team in any series.

2016: John Wes Townley – Athenian Motorsports No. 05 Chevrolet Silverado – Townley had to sit out a couple of races mid-season due to “concussion symptoms” from a hard crash and also an injured ankle. In 18 races, the Watkinsville, GA driver led four laps, earned two poles, scored two top-10s, had a 12.0 average start, an 18.9 average finish, earned 255 points and closed out the season 17th in the standings. Townley made the field in two XFINITY Series superspeedway races driving Athenian’s No. 05 Camaro; finished 17th at Daytona and 26th at Talladega.  He also raced the family-owned Athenian Motorsports No. 05 Chevrolet in 12 ARCA Racing Series events. In those, he averaged an 8.7 start coupled with an 11.2 average finish (including a win at Daytona and runner-ups at Pocono and Chicagoland).
Best 2016 NCWTS starts: Pole – Kansas 5/6 and Michigan 8/27
Best 2016 finish: 7th – Atlanta 2/27
Last career NCWTS win: Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 3, 2015.
2017: No firm plans announced at this time but Townley will most likely run a repeat of his 2016 schedule; full season in the NCWTS in the No. 05 Silverado, partial season in the XFINITY Camaro and as many ARCA Series races as possible in the No. 05 Chevrolet.

2016: Travis Kvapil – MAKE Motorsports No. 50 Chevrolet Silverado - In 22 races, the Janesville, WI driver led two laps, scored one top-5, one top-10, had a 28.5 average start, a 21.4 average finish, earned 257 points and closed out the season 16th in the standings. Kvapil also drove the Rick Ware Racing No. 15 Ford Mustang in eight XFINITY Series races; averaged a 25.9 finish with a best of 20th at Bristol.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: 23rd – Las Vegas 10/1
Best 2016 finish: 5th – Daytona 2/19
Last career NCWTS win: Las Vegas Motor Speedway on November 22, 2007.
2017: No 2017 plans announced at this time for MAKE Motorsports or Travis Kvapil.

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/Mobil 1

Ford

Stewart-Haas 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 (3 races)

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/Keen Parts

Ford

GoFAS Racing

34

Landon Cassill

Taco Bell

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

37

Chris Buescher

Kroger

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

38

David Ragan

Taco Bell

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

41

Kurt Busch

Monster Energy/Haas Automation/Mobil 1

 

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

16

**

 

 

Roush Fenway Racing

30

**

???

Chevrolet

The Motorsports Group

33

**

???

Chevrolet

Circle Sport

44

**

 

 

Richard Petty Motorsports

55

**

?

?

Premium Motorsports

98

**

?

?

Premium Motorsports

 

 

 ** No Charter

 

 

 

Anthony Ballantoni

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