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Look Ahead

Look Ahead: The 500 in 69 days

by Anthony Ballantoni
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 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 69 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:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford Fusion) finished 27th in the standings and earned 757 points. In 35 starts, the 27-year-old Olive Branch, MS driver scored one top-five and five top-ten finishes. He had a 21.7 average start and a 22.4 average finish. He did not qualify for the October Talladega race. Stenhouse also entered the NASCAR K&N Pro Series-West race at the Sonoma road course driving Bill McAnally’s No. 99 Ford. He started second and finished fourth.
Best 2014 NSCS start: 4 – Chicagoland 9/14
Best 2014 NSCS finish: 2 – Bristol 3/16
Last career NSCS Win: None so far.
2015: Stenhouse’s contract with Roush Fenway Racing continues thru at least the end of 2015. He returns to the No. 17 and picks up Fastenal as the anchor sponsor (was on Carl Edwards No. 99; Edwards left RFR at the end of 2014).

2014: Casey Mears (Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet SS) finished 26th in the standings and earned 782 points. The 36-year-old Bakersfield, CA driver led four laps, scored one top-five and three top-ten finishes. He had a 25.5 average start and a 22.3 average finish.
Best 2014 NSCS start: 4 – Talladega 5/4
Best 2014 NSCS finish: 4 – Daytona 7/6
Last NSCS Win: Charlotte on May 27, 2007.
2015: Mears is signed thru 2015 to drive the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet SS. GEICO is also returning as sponsor for most of the season (33 races).

2014: Tony Stewart (Stewart Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet SS) finished 25th in the standings and earned 799 points. In 33 starts, the 43-year-old Columbus, IN driver earned one pole, led 125 laps, scored three top-five and seven top-10s. He had a 16.5 average start and a 20.0 average finish. Stewart sat out three races following the August 9 accident in which Kevin Ward Jr. was killed when he was struck by Stewart's sprint car during a dirt track race in New York.
Best 2014 NSCS start: Pole – Fort Worth 4/6
Best 2014 NSCS finishes: 4 – Bristol 3/16 and Martinsville 10/26
Last NSCS Win: Dover on June 2, 2013.
2015: Stewart just had the fourth of five planned surgeries last week to repair his injured leg (broken in a sprint car dirt track race in August 2013). He will be ready to drive his No. 14 Chevrolet SS in the Daytona 500 in February.

UPDATES (on previously featured drivers):
HScott Motorsports confirmed they will continue Sprint Cup operations with Justin Allgaier behind the wheel of the No. 51 Chevrolet SS for a full-season in 2015.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2014 (NNS):
Joey Gase (Jimmy Means Racing No. 52 Chevrolet Camaro) finished 20th in the standings and earned 482 points. The 21-year-old Cedar Rapids, IA driver led one lap and had an average start of 34.5 and a 29.4 average finish. He also entered four Sprint Cup Series races in Frank Stoddard’s Fas Lane Racing No. 32 Ford Fusion with a best finish of 33rd at Phoenix.
Best 2014 NNS start: 27 – Fort Worth 4/4
Best 2014 NNS finish: 11 – Talladega 5/3
Last career NNS Win: None so far.
2015 (NXS): No firm plans at this time but it appears Gase will return to the No. 52 in the XFINITY Series and may enter some Sprint Cup races in the Go Fas Racing No. 32 as well.

2014 (NNS): Eric McClure (TriStar Motorsports No. 14 Toyota Camry) finished 19th in the standings and earned 521 points. In 28 races, the 36-year-old Chilhowie, VA driver had an average start of 28.4 and a 25.4 average finish.
Best 2014 NNS start: 13 – Daytona 2/22
Best 2014 NNS finish: 17 – Talladega 5/3
Last career NNS Win: None so far.
2015 (NXS): McClure has been hinting about retiring at the end of 2014. There are no firm plans at this time but the 2015 four-car line-up for TriStar Motorsports has been announced and McClure is not listed as a driver.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2014:
Joe Nemechek (NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 Toyota Tundra) ran a 12-race part-time NCWTS schedule. He shared the ride with son, John Hunter Nemechek. The 51-year-old Naples, FL driver closed out the season 19th in the standings and earned 413 points. He led nine laps, scored one top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He averaged a 14.8 start and a 9.8 average finish. Nemechek also made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts, 14 in Jay Robinson’s No. 66 Toyota Camry and one in Randy Humphrey’s No. 77 Ford Fusion, with a best finish of 30th at Watkins Glen. And, finally, Nemechek drove various cars in six Nationwide Series races. He averaged a 17.3 finish in that series with a best finish of sixth at Talladega Superspeedway in his own NEMCO No. 87 Toyota Camry.
Best 2014 NCWTS start: 6 – Fort Worth 6/6
Best 2014 NCWTS finish: 3 – Fort Worth 6/6
Last career NCWTS Win: None so far.
2015: Nemechek plans to run a similar schedule next season. He will again split the driving in the No. 8 Tundra with son John Hunter but the younger Nemechek turns 18 in June and will complete the rest of the season. Joe will also run as many Sprint Cup and XFINITY series races in which he is able to make the field driving his own cars (No. 87 Toyotas) and with other teams.

2014: Erik Jones (Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota Tundra) finished 18th in the standings and earned 426 points in his 12 starts this season. The 18-year-old Byron, MI driver scored three wins, two poles, five top-five and eight top ten finishes. He led 300 laps and averaged a 6.1 start and a 9.2 average finish. Jones also entered three Nationwide Series races driving Joe Gibbs Racing No. 30 Toyota Camry. He had starts of 4th, 6th and 3rd and finishes of 7th, 8th and 6th, respectively, in those events.
Best 2014 NCWTS starts: Poles – Eldora 7/23 and Phoenix 11/7
Best 2014 NCWTS finishes: Wins – Iowa 7/11, Las Vegas 9/27 and Phoenix 11/7
Last career NCWTS Win: Phoenix on November 7.
2015: Jones will return to KBM but will move to the No. 4 Toyota Tundra and will drive a full-time schedule. Rudy Fugle will be his new crew chief.

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

Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

27

Paul Menard

Menard’s

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

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

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 NBC Sports Edge.