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Look Ahead

Look Ahead: 48 days to the 500

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 2014 and what’s ahead for them in 2015. We will look at drivers who scored at least 400 points in the Cup Series and those who earned at least 250 points in the XFINITY (formerly Nationwide) and Camping World Truck Series.

With 48 days to go until the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, here are some driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2015 Sprint Cup Driver/Team lineups.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS):
2014:
Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing No.  1 Chevrolet SS) finished 18th in the standings and earned 1,014 points. The 38-year-old Joplin, MO driver led 368 laps and scored two poles, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. He had a 14.5 average start and a 16.2 average finish.
Best 2014 NSCS starts: Pole – Sonoma 6/22 and Martinsville 10/26
Best 2014 NSCS finish: 3 – Charlotte 10/11
Last career NSCS Win: Talladega Superspeedway on October 20, 2013.
2015: McMurray returns to the No. 1 Chevrolet but will have a new crew chief. Matt McCall, formerly a race engineer for Richard Childress Racing, took over for Keith Rodden. Rodden will be crew chief for Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet team in 2015.

2014: Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet SS) finished 17th in the standings and earned 1,080 points. The 22-year-old Elk Grove, CA driver led 53 laps, scored one pole, eight top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. He had a 15.6 average start and a 14.2 average finish. The 2014 NSCS Sunoco Rookie of the Year is only the sixth driver to also have claimed the same honor in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (2013). Larson drove the Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro in 28 of 33 Nationwide Series races in 2014. He picked up a pole, two wins and an average finish of 8.4 in those events. He entered three Camping World Truck series races for TSM earning two poles and a 15.3 average finish. TSM also entered Larson in the K&N Pro Series-West race at Sonoma; he won from the pole, leading all 66 laps. Finally, TSM entered Larson in the ARCA race at Pocono; he won this one from the pole as well, leading 66 of the 80 lap event.
Best 2014 NSCS start: Pole – Pocono 8/3 (also Richmond on 4/26 based on practice speed, qualifying rain-out, not credited with a pole)
Best 2014 NSCS finishes: 2 – Fontana 3/23, Loudon 9/21 and Kansas 10/5
Last NSCS Win: None so far.
2015: Larson is contracted thru 2017 to drive the No. 42 Chevrolet SS with no changes expected for the team. He will also run part-time in the XFINITY Series piloting the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro for the newly formed HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi team.

2014: Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford Fusion) finished 16th in the standings, made the Chase and earned 2,195 points. The 30-year-old Tampa, FL driver led 23 laps, scored one win, two top-five and seven top-10s. He had a 19.1 average start and a 21.4 average finish. Almirola became the first Cuban American driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when he captured his first win in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July. He also drove the Biagi-Denbeste Racing No. 98 Ford Mustang in two Nationwide Series races collecting top-15 finishes in both starts.
Best 2014 NSCS starts: 3 – Darlington 4/12 and Kansas 10/5
Best 2014 NSCS finish: 1 – Daytona 7/6
Last NSCS Win: Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014.
2015: Almirola is signed thru 2016 to drive RPM’s No. 43 Ford. Smithfield Foods has extended thru 2016 as sponsor for at least 29 races. “Fresh from Florida” will sponsor two additional Cup events. Almirola may enter some XFINITY Series races as well.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2014 (NNS):
Mike Bliss (TriStar Motorsports No. 19 Toyota Camry) finished 14th in the standings and earned 779 points. The 49-year-old Milwaukie, OR driver led one lap, scored one top-10 and had an average start of 19.3 and a 20.4 average finish. He also made eight Sprint Cup starts; two in BK Racing’s No. 93 Toyota and six in Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 37 Chevrolet (best finish was a 35th).
Best 2014 NNS start: 10 – Bristol 3/15
Best 2014 NNS finish: 3 – Road America 6/21
Last career NNS Win: Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2009.
2015 (NXS): No firm plans at this time but Bliss is still featured on TriStar Motorsports current website as the driver of the No. 19 Toyota. He was one of three drivers in Tommy Baldwin’s “start-and-park” No. 37 in the Sprint Cup series. The other two drivers will not return making Bliss a likely pilot for a part-time run in the TBR Chevrolet in 2015.

2014 (NNS): Dakoda Armstrong (Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford Mustang) finished 13th in the standings and earned 788 points. The 23-year-old New Castle, IN driver led 2 laps and scored a pole and three top-10s. He had an average start of 20.4 and a 20.2 average finish.
Best 2014 NNS start: Pole – Daytona 7/4
Best 2014 NNS finish: 7 – Richmond 9/5
Last career NNS Win: None so far.
2015 (NXS): Armstrong returns to the No. 43 Mustang at RPM but will have a new crew chief. Frank Kerr, former crew chief for both David Gilliland and Marcos Ambrose, will lead the No. 43 team in the XFINITY Series in 2015.

UPDATES on previously covered NXS drivers:
Joey Gase has confirmed he will be returning full-time to the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015 driving the Jimmy Means Racing No. 52 Chevrolet Camaro.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2014:
Tyler Young (Young’s Motorsports No. 02 Chevrolet Silverado) finished 13th in the standings and earned 529 points. The 24-year-old Midland, TX driver averaged a 21.1 start coupled with a 20.0 average finish.
Best 2014 NCWTS start: 10 – Las Vegas 9/27
Best 2014 NCWTS finish: 11 – Chicagoland 9/12
Last career NCWTS Win: None so far.
2015: Young’s Twitter account shows he will again pilot the family-owned No. 02 Silverado for a full season in 2015.

2014: Tyler Reddick (Brad Keselowski Racing No. 19 Ford F-150) finished 12th in the standings and earned 539 points. In 16 starts, the Corning, CA driver who turns 19 on January 11, led nine laps, scored two poles, three top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He averaged an 8.4 start and a 10.6 finish. Reddick also drove Kerry Scherer’s No. 22 Dodge in the ARCA Racing Series season-opener at Daytona; started 32nd, finished fifth.
Best 2014 NCWTS starts: Pole – Talladega 10/18 and Fort Worth 10/31
Best 2014 NCWTS finishes: 4 – Chicagoland 9/12, Talladega 10/18 and Fort Worth 10/31
Last career NCWTS Win: None so far.
2015: BKR has announced Reddick will return for another full season behind the wheel of the No. 19 Ford F-150.

 

2015 Sprint Cup Lineup - Full-time teams(Tentative)

Car

Driver

Sponsor

Make

Owner

1

Jamie McMurray

Cessna / McDonald’s

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

2

Brad Keselowski

Miller Lite / Alliance Truck Parts / Wurth

Ford

Team Penske

3

Austin Dillon

Dow/Cheerios/Bass Pro Shops/American Ethanol

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

4

Kevin Harvick

Budweiser/Jimmie Johns/Outback Steakhouse

Chevrolet

Stewart  Haas Racing

5

Kasey Kahne

Farmers Insurance/Great Clips/Time Warner Cable /Pepsi/LiftMaster

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

6

Trevor Bayne

AdvoCare

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

7

Michael Annett

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Chevrolet

Tommy Baldwin Racing

9

Sam Hornish Jr.

Twisted Tea

Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports

10

Danica Patrick

GoDaddy.com / Aspen Dental

Chevrolet

Stewart  Haas Racing

11

Denny Hamlin

FedEx / Sports 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/Charter/AAA Mid-Atlantic

Toyota

Michael_Waltrip Racing

16

Greg Biffle

Ortho/Cheez-It

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Fastenal/Zest

Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

18

Kyle Busch

M&M’s

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

19

Carl Edwards

Arris/Stanley Tools

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

20

Matt Kenseth

Dollar General / DeWalt

Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

22

Joey Logano

Shell-Pennzoil/AAA/ Autotrader.com

Ford

Team Penske

23

Alex Bowman

Dr. Pepper / Burger King

Toyota

BK Racing

24

Jeff Gordon

Drive to End Hunger/Axalta/Pepsi/3M/Panasonic

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

27

Paul Menard

Menards

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

30

?

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Chevrolet

The Motorsports Group

31

Ryan Newman

Caterpillar/Quicken Loans/WIX Filters/Kwikset

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

32

Bobby Labonte

C&J Energy Services (4 races)

Ford

GoFAS Racing

32

Boris Said

(Watkins Glen and Sonoma only)

Ford

GoFAS Racing

32

?

Keenparts.com/corvetteparts.net (8 races)

Ford

GoFAS Racing

33

Ty Dillon

NE Cheerio’s/Kroger(Daytona 500)
Yuengling (Pocono - June)

Chevrolet

Joe Falk-Circle Sport Racing

34

David Ragan

Taco Bell

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

36

Reed Sorenson

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Chevrolet

Tommy Baldwin Racing

38

David Gilliland

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

40

Landon Cassill

NE (sponsor unconfirmed)?

Chevrolet

Joe Falk Racing

41

Kurt Busch

Haas Automation / State Water Heaters

Chevrolet

Stewart Haas Racing

42

Kyle Larson

Target

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

43

Aric Almirola

Smithfield Foods / STP / “Fresh From Florida”

Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports

47

AJ Allmendinger

Clorox / Scott Products

Chevrolet

JTG Daugherty Racing

48

Jimmie Johnson

Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

51

Justin Allgaier

BRANDT

Chevrolet

HScott Motorsports

55

Brian Vickers

Aaron’s Dream Machine

Toyota

Michael_Waltrip Racing

55

(Sub)

(Vickers recovering from surgery)

Toyota

Michael_Waltrip Racing

78

Martin Truex Jr.

Furniture Row

Chevrolet

Furniture Row Racing

83

?

Burger King / Dr. Pepper

Toyota

BK Racing

88

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Nationwide/Diet Mountain Dew/AMP Energy/Kelley Blue Book

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

98

Josh Wise

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Chevrolet

Phil Parsons Racing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part-time/Questionable teams

 

 

21

Ryan Blaney

NE Motorcraft / Quick Lane

Ford

Wood Brothers Racing

26

?

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Toyota

BK Racing

66

?

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Toyota

Michael_Waltrip Racing

95

Michael McDowell

K-LOVE

Ford

Leavine Family Racing

 

 

NE=Not eligible for points in Sprint Cup

 

 

 

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