NASCAR Stock Market: Who’s up and who’s down from last year
No Cup driver has had a better turnaround in the last year than Clint Bowyer.
The Stewart-Haas racer is one of five who are 10 or more spots better in the points than they were a year ago. Bowyer, who is ninth in the standings, is 23 spots better than he was at this time last year.
The change is not a surprise. Bowyer was with HScott Motorsports, which ceased operations after last year, and now is with one of the sport’s elite teams.
“There is nothing in this sport at this level that comes easy,’’ Bowyer said earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway. “It doesn’t matter the racetrack or circumstances, it is always hard because there is always the next guy working every bit as hard to accomplish the same goal. That being said, I knew it would be a positive move.’’
Bowyer has two top-10 finishes, which is one shy his total last season. He also has five top-15 finishes in the first seven Cup races of the season.
On the opposite side, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 20th in points, 14 spots worse than he was at this time a year ago. He is coming off a season-best fifth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt’s challenge, in part, has been coming back after missing the last 18 races of last season because of issues related to a concussion.
“I figured we would get one sooner or later, but it’s nice,’’ he said after the Texas race. “I know our fans are really pulling for us.
Here’s a look at the drivers who have gained the most spots in the points since this time a year ago and the drivers who have fallen the most in the same time.
MOST POSITIONS GAINED
23 — Clint Bowyer (9th in standings this year)
17 — Kyle Larson (1st)
14 — Ryan Blaney (6th)
12 — Chase Elliott (2nd)
11 — Trevor Bayne (12th)
9 — Chris Buescher (27th)
8 — Martin Truex Jr. (3rd)
6 — Ryan Newman (13th)
6 — Cole Whitt (31st)
5 — Brad Keselowski (4th)
5 — Jamie McMurray (8th)
5 — Michael McDowell (28th)
MOST POSITIONS LOST
14 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (20th in standings this year)
11 — Austin Dillon (21st)
10 — Matt Kenseth (22nd)
10 — AJ Allmendinger (25th)
9 — Jimmie Johnson (11th)
8 — Kurt Busch (15th)
8 — Denny Hamlin (16th)
7 — Kevin Harvick (10th)
6 — Kyle Busch (7th)
5 — Paul Menard (26th)
5 — Danica Patrick (29th)