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Look Ahead

Look Ahead: The 500 in 13 days

by Anthony Ballantoni
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

During the off-season, Look Ahead gave a snapshot of where drivers finished in 2014 and what’s ahead for them in 2015. We looked 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 13 days to go until the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, here are the final driver recaps followed by a tentative list of 2015 Sprint Cup Driver/Team lineups.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS):
2014
: Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota Camry) finished third in the standings, made the Chase and earned 5,037 points. In 35 starts (he missed the Auto Club Speedway race in March due to metal in one eye), the 34-year-old Chesterfield, VA driver led 363 laps and scored one win, three poles, seven top-five and 18 top-10 finishes. He had a 14.5 average start and a 14.3 average finish. Hamlin also entered one Nationwide Series race in JGR’s No. 20 Toyota (DNF, engine).
Best 2014 NSCS starts: Pole – Bristol 3/16, Pocono 6/8 and Phoenix 11/9
Best 2014 NSCS finish: Win – Talladega 5/4
Last career NSCS Win: Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 4, 2014.
2015: Hamlin, who is contracted with JGR thru 2015, returns to the No. 11 Toyota with a new crew chief. Darian Grubb, who moved to JGR’s No. 19 to be crew chief for Carl Edwards, has been replaced by Dave Rogers in that role on the No. 11.

2014: Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet SS) finished second in the standings, made the Chase and earned 5,042 points. The 37-year-old South Bend, IN driver led 41 laps, scored five top-five and 16 top-10 finishes. He had a 13.3 average start and a 12.7 average finish. He also drove the Mike Curb No. 7 Chevrolet in three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events. He had an average start of 4.7 (including a pole) and an average finish of 9.7 in those races.
Best 2014 NSCS start: 2 – Chicagoland 9/14
Best 2014 NSCS finish: 2 – Homestead-Miami 11/16
Last NSCS Win: Crown Royal Presents The Samuel Deeds 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 28, 2013.
2015: Newman is contracted thru 2016 to drive RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet. The team returns this season without any changes except for Grainger joining primary sponsors Caterpillar, Quicken Loans, WIX Filters and Kwikset.

2014: Kevin Harvick (Stewart Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet SS) earned 5,043 points and was crowned the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion after the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 39-year-old Bakersfield, CA driver led 2,137 laps, scored eight poles, five wins, 14 top-five and 20 top-10s. He had a 9.1 average start and a 12.9 average finish. He also drove the JR Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro in 15 Nationwide Series starts. He averaged a 7.0 start (including a pole) and a 3.3 average finish (including four wins).
Best 2014 NSCS starts: Pole – Darlington 4/12, Kansas 5/10, Michigan 6/15, Indianapolis 7/27, Bristol 8/23, Atlanta 8/31, Dover 9/28 and Kansas 10/5
Best 2014 NSCS finishes: Win – Phoenix 3/2, Darlington 4/12, Charlotte 10/11, Phoenix 11/9 and Homestead-Miami 11/16
Last NSCS Win: Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014.
2015: Harvick is contracted in the No. 4 thru 2016. The entire team is intact for the season. Harvick will again ride-share a JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro (the 5 will run as the No. 88 in 2015) in the XFINITY Series. He shares the ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Ben Rhodes.

UPDATES on previously covered NSCS drivers:
- David Gilliland, who re-signed Jan. 13 with the Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford team on the Sprint Cup tour, will also drive the Ricky Benton Racing No. 92 Ford F-150 in the Camping World Truck Series season-opener at Daytona. His future races with the Benton-owned team, where he participated on a part-time basis the last five seasons, wasn't set in stone beyond Daytona.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2014 (NNS)
: Elliott Sadler (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota Camry) finished third in the standings and earned 1,154 points. The 39-year-old Emporia, VA driver led 148 laps and scored one win, one pole, seven top-five and 25 top-10s. He had an average start of 9.1 and a 9.4 average finish.
Best 2014 NNS start: Pole – Auto Club 3/22
Best 2014 NNS finish: Win – Talladega 5/3
Last career NNS Win: Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2014.
2015 (NXS): Sadler left JGR at the end of 2014 and joined the Roush Fenway Racing organization taking OneMain Financial sponsorship with him. He will have Phil Gould (formerly crew chief for Brian Scott at Richard Childress Racing) leading the RFR No. 1 Ford Mustang team as crew chief.

2014 (NNS): Regan Smith (JR Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro) finished second in the standings and earned 1,171 points. The 31-year-old Cato, NY driver led 133 laps and scored one win, seven top-five and 26 top-10s. He had an average start of 10.6 and an 8.9 average finish. While Tony Stewart was sitting out for few races after his sprint car accident, Smith drove Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet SS in the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen (started 13th, wrecked with nine to go, was credited with a 37th place finish).
Best 2014 NNS starts: 3 – Fort Worth 4/4, Road America 6/21 and Iowa 8/2
Best 2014 NNS finish: Win – Daytona 2/22
Last career NNS Win: DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2014.
2015 (NXS): Smith will return for another full season in the No. 7 Camaro with a new crew chief. Jason Burdett will serve as the crew chief allowing Ryan Pemberton to return to his original post as JR Motorsports’ director of competition.

2014 (NNS): Chase Elliott (JR Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro) earned 1,213 points and was crowned the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion. He clinched the title at Phoenix with one race remaining in the season and, at age 18, became the youngest champion in a NASCAR national series. Elliott also won the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year title. The 19-year-old Dawsonville, GA driver led 390 laps and scored three wins, two poles, 16 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes. He had an average start of 8.3 and an 8.0 average finish. Chase also drove father Bill Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet in the season-opening ARCA Racing Series event; started fifth, finished ninth.
Best 2014 NNS starts: Pole – Atlanta 8/30 and Charlotte 10/10
Best 2014 NNS finishes: Win – Fort Worth 4/4, Darlington 4/11 and Chicagoland 7/19
Last career NNS Win: EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014.
2015 (NXS): Elliott will return to JRM’s No. 9 Camaro in 2015 with a new veteran crew chief. Ernie Cope moves over from the No. 5 to lead the No. 9 team in Elliott’s final full-time season in the NXS. It has already been announced that Elliott will move up to Sprint Cup in 2016 as the replacement for Jeff Gordon in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet SS. Gordon has confirmed that 2015 will be his last full-time season and will step out of the No. 24 after Homestead-Miami in November. Elliott will be driving about five 2015 Sprint Cup races for Hendrick Motorsports (probably in the No. 25) to prepare for the 2016 move.

UPDATES on previously covered NXS drivers:
- David Starr has signed a multi-year agreement to pilot the TriStar Motorsports No. 44 Toyota Camry full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series over the next three seasons with Zachry Group as the primary sponsor. Starr ran 13 races with TriStar Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2014, capturing one top-10, three top-15s and 11 top-25 finishes.
- Along with returning full-time in the TriStar Motorsports No. 19 Toyota Camry in the NXS, Mike Bliss will also drive select Sprint Cup Series races in the Go Fas Racing No. 32 Ford Fusion. His first start will be at Atlanta on March 1st.
- Besides driving the Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Camaro in 2015, Scott will pilot the RCR prepared Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet SS in the Daytona 500. Premium Motorsports is the result of Jay Robinson Racing’s purchase of Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 36 team (and points).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2014
: Darrell Wallace Jr. (Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 54 Toyota Tundra) finished third in the standings and earned 799 points. The 21-year old Mobile AL driver led 623 laps, scored four wins, two poles, nine top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. He averaged an 8.2 start coupled with a 9.0 average finish. In the Nationwide Series, he drove two races in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry with a best finish of seventh at Daytona.
Best 2014 NCWTS starts: Pole – Iowa 7/11 and Martinsville 10/25. (He also started first at Martinsville on 3/29, but qualifying was rained out and field was set by practice speeds)
Best 2014 NCWTS finishes: Win – St. Louis 6/14, Eldora 7/23, Martinsville 10/25 and Homestead-Miami 11/14
Last career NCWTS Win: Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead- Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014.
2015: At the end of 2014, Wallace asked to be released from his contract since Joe Gibbs Racing couldn’t secure sponsorship for his move up to the XFINITY Series. Roush Fenway Racing hired Wallace to will drive their No. 6 Ford Mustang in the 2015 XFINITY Series replacing Trevor Bayne who has moved up to the Sprint Cup Series (in RFR’s No. 6 Ford Fusion) for the upcoming year. Chad Norris will be crew chief for Wallace’s new team.

2014: Ryan Blaney (Brad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Ford F-150) finished second in the standings and earned 812 points. The 21-year old High Point, NC driver led 181 laps and scored one win, two poles, 12 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. He had a 6.9 average start and a 7.8 average finish. Blaney ran two Sprint Cup races in Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford Fusion; averaged a 24.5 finish including 15 laps led at Talladega. In his 14-race ride-share in Team Penske’s Nos. 12 and 22 Ford Mustangs, Blaney averaged a 5.6 start (with one pole) and a 5.8 finish with a best finish of a victory at Bristol.
Best 2014 NCWTS starts: Pole – Michigan 8/16 and Las Vegas 9/27
Best 2014 NCWTS finish: Win – Bowmanville, Ontario on 8/31
Last career NCWTS Win: Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on August 31, 2014.
2015: Blaney will be racing in all three national series in 2015. He will drive the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford Fusion in 18 Sprint Cup Series races and possibly some others in Team Penske’s No. 12 Cup car. Blaney will ride-share Team Penske’s XFINITY Series No. 22 Ford Mustang and will also ride-share the Brad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Ford F-150.

2014: Matt Crafton (ThorSport Racing No. 88 Toyota Tundra) earned 833 points and won the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. He is the first driver in series history to win back-to-back championships (2013-2014). He also leads the series in consecutive starts with 337. The 38-year old Tulare, CA driver led 298 laps and scored two wins, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. He had a 7.7 average start and a 7.0 average finish. Crafton also piloted Richard Childress Racing’s No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro in one Nationwide Series race; started 11th at Las Vegas and finished 12th.
Best 2014 NCWTS starts: 2 – Charlotte 5/16, Dover 5/30, Fort Worth 6/6 and Phoenix 11/7
Best 2014 NCWTS finishes: Win – Martinsville 3/29 and Fort Worth 6/6
Last career NCWTS Win: WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6, 2014.
2015: Crafton will be returning to the ThorSport No. 88 truck with no known changes to the team.

2015 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

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

Alex Bowman

Toy State/Nikko/Accell Construction

Chevrolet

Tommy Baldwin Racing

9

Sam Hornish Jr.

Twisted Tea

Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports

10

Danica Patrick

GoDaddy.com/Aspen Dental/TaxACT

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/Sport Clips/Subway

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

J.J. Yeley

Dr. Pepper/Burger King

Toyota

BK Racing

24

Jeff Gordon

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

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

26

?

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Toyota

BK Racing

27

Paul Menard

Menards

Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

30

Ron Hornaday Jr.

Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff

Chevrolet

The Motorsports Group

31

Ryan Newman

Caterpillar/Quicken Loans/WIX Filters/Kwikset/Grainger

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

Mike Bliss NE

(Atlanta in March and others)

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

35

Cole Whitt

Speed Stick

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

38

David Gilliland

Love's Travel Stops

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

40

Landon Cassill NE

Snap Fitness (6 races)

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”/U.S. Air Force

Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports

46

Michael Annett

Pilot Flying J/Cypress Associates/Northland Oil

Chevrolet

HScott 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/Auto-Owners Insurance

Chevrolet

HScott Motorsports

55

Brian Vickers

Aaron’s Dream Machine

Toyota

Michael_Waltrip Racing

55

Michael Waltrip

(Daytona 500 only) Vickers returns in March

Toyota

Michael_Waltrip Racing

55

Brett Moffitt NE

(Atlanta only) Vickers returns at Las Vegas

Toyota

Michael_Waltrip Racing

62

Brian Scott NE

Daytona 500 only (sponsor unconfirmed)

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

62

?

Rest of season (rumored to be Jeb Burton)

Chevrolet

Premium Motorsports

78

Martin Truex Jr.

Furniture Row

Chevrolet

Furniture Row Racing

83

Johnny Sauter NE

Dustless Blasting  (Daytona 500 only)

Toyota

BK Racing

83

?

Burger King/Dr. Pepper  (rest of season)

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

25

Chase Elliott

NAPA (5 race prep for 2016 move to Cup)

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

66

?

(sponsor unconfirmed)

Toyota

Michael_Waltrip Racing

95

Michael McDowell

K-LOVE/Thrivent Financial

Ford

Leavine Family Racing

 

 

NE=Not eligible for points in Sprint Cup

 

 

 

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