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Rotoworld

Look Ahead: Only 31 days to go

Anthony Ballantoni
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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 (now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) 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 31 days to go until the 2017 MENCS 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: Brad Keselowski – Team Penske No. 2 Ford Fusion - In 36 races, the Rochester Hills, MN driver led 549 laps, scored four wins, one pole, 16 top-5s, 22 top-10s, had a 9.6 average start, an 11.5 average finish, earned 2,267 points and made the 2016 Chase to the Sprint Cup. Keselowski made it through the Round of 16 races but was eliminated after the Round of 12 events and closed out the season 12th in the standings. He also entered 15 XFINITY Series races in Penske’s No. 22 Mustang; one pole, five top-5s, 12 top-10s, best finish 2nd at Fort Worth.
Best 2016 NSCS start: Pole – Pocono 6/6
Best finishes: Win – Las Vegas 3/6, Talladega 5/1, Daytona 7/2 and Kentucky 7/9
Last career NSCS win: Kentucky Speedway on July 9, 2016.
2017 MENCS: Keselowski is contracted thru 2017 to drive the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske. Crew chief Paul Wolfe is also under contract to the end of this season. All primary sponsors, including Miller Lite (24 races), will return as well.

2016: Martin Truex Jr. – Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota Camry – In 36 races, the Mayetta, NJ driver led a series best 1,809 laps, scored four wins, five poles, eight top-5s, 17 top-10s, had a 9.1 average start, a 13.9 average finish, earned 2,271 points and made the 2016 Chase to the Sprint Cup. He made it through the Round of 16 races but was eliminated after the Round of 12 events and closed out the season 11th in the standings. Truex was named the 2016 Eastern Motorsport Press Association National Driver of the Year. This is the second time he was the recipient of the EMPA Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year trophy. He received the prestigious hardware after winning the 2004 XFINITY Series championship.
Best 2016 NSCS starts: Pole – Kansas 5/7, Charlotte 5/29, Pocono 8/1, Talladega 10/23 and Martinsville 10/30
Best 2016 finishes: Win – Charlotte 5/29, Darlington 9/4, Chicago 9/18 and Dover 10/2
Last career NSCS win: Dover International Speedway on October 2, 2016.
2017 MENCS: Truex signed a two-year contract to remain at FRR driving the No. 78 Toyota thru 2018. Cole Pearn will return as crew chief for the team. Furniture Row and Denver Mattress return as sponsors. Bass Pro Shops, 5-Hour Energy, Auto-Owners Insurance and WIX Filters signed on as additional primary sponsors.

2016: Chase Elliott – Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet SS - In 36 races, the Dawsonville, GA driver led 358 laps, scored two poles, 10 top-5s, 17 top-10s, had an11.3 average start, a 14.6 average finish, earned 2,285 points and made the 2016 Chase to the Sprint Cup. Elliott made it through the Round of 16 races but was eliminated after the Round of 12 events and closed out the season 10th in the standings. JR Motorsports fielded the Nos. 5 and 88 Camaros for Elliott in six XFINITY Series races. He won the season opener at Daytona and averaged a 5.3 finish for all six races. Elliott drove Carlos Contreras’ No. 71 Chevrolet Silverado in the Camping World Truck race at Martinsville; started on the pole, led 109 laps and finished the 200-lap event in second place.
Best 2016 NSCS starts: Pole – Daytona 2/21 and Talladega 5/1
Best 2016 finishes: 2nd – Michigan 6/12 and Michigan 8/28
Last career NSCS win: None so far.
2017 MENCS: Elliott is contracted through 2018 in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet SS. Crew chief Alan Gustafson and all primary sponsors will return as well. Hooters signed up as primary sponsor for two races.

2016: Kyle Larson – Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet SS - In 36 races, the Elk Grove, CA driver led 379 laps, scored one win, 10 top-5s, 15 top-10s, had a 15.6 average start, a 14.7 average finish, earned 2,228 points and made the 2016 Chase to the Sprint Cup. After the Round of 16 races, Larson was eliminated and closed out the season ninth in the standings. CGR also put him in the No. 42 Camaro for 16 XFINITY Series races. For those events, Larson averaged a 5.8 start coupled with a 6.1 average finish. He led 651 laps of the 2,288 run and won the Pocono and Fort Worth races. Larson also drove three Camping World Truck Series races in GMS Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado; won the Eldora dirt race and finished fourth at Martinsville and Homestead-Miami.
Best 2016 NSCS starts: 2nd – Watkins Glen 8/7, Richmond 9/10 and Phoenix 11/13
Best 2016 finish: Win – Michigan 8/28
Last career NSCS win: Michigan International Speedway on August 28, 2016.
2017 MENCS: Larson is signed thru 2017 to return to Ganassi’s No. 42 Chevy. Sponsorship continues and it appears crew chief Chad Johnston will return as well. Larson will also ride-share the No. 42 Camaro in the XFINITY Series with former truck series driver, Tyler Reddick. Reddick is scheduled to run 18 to 22 races and Larson will drive the rest.

NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS):
2016: Ryan Sieg – RSS Racing No. 39 Chevrolet Camaro - In 33 races, the Tucker, GA driver led two laps, scored one top-5, three top-10s, had an 18.7 average start, a 17.8 average finish, earned 2,171 points and made the 2016 NXS Chase. After the Round of 12 races, Sieg was eliminated and closed out the season ninth in the standings.
Best 2016 NXS start: 6th – Dover 5/14
Best 2016 finish: 3rd – Daytona 7/1
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2017: RSS Racing is again planning a full season with owner/driver Ryan Sieg behind the wheel of the No. 39 Chevrolet Camaro. Crew chief Kevin Starland will return to the team. The team is still searching for sponsorship.

2016: Brennan Poole – Chip Ganassi Racing No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro – In 33 races, the Woodlands, TX driver led 11 laps, scored four top-5s, 17 top-10s, had a 13.1 average start, a 12.4 average finish, earned 2,192 points and made the 2016 NXS Chase. After the Round of 12 races, Poole was eliminated and closed out the season eighth in the standings.
Best 2016 NXS starts: 5th – Atlanta 2/27 and Texas 4/8
Best 2016 finishes: 3rd – Talladega 4/30 and Road America 8/27
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2017: Poole will return for another full season driving Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 48 Camaro. Crew chief Chad Norris and primary sponsor DC Solar will return as well.

2016: Blake Koch – Kaulig Racing No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro – In 33 races, the W. Palm Beach, FL driver led 16 laps, scored five top-10s, had a 13.2 average start, a 16.9 average finish, earned 2,200 points and made the 2016 NXS Chase. After the Round of 12 races, Koch was eliminated and closed out the season seventh in the standings.
Best 2016 NXS start: 4th – Phoenix 11/12
Best 2016 finishes: 8th – Richmond 4/23, Bristol 8/19 and Phoenix 11/12
Last career NXS win: None so far.
2017: Koch is returning full-time in Kaulig Racing’s No. 11 Chevy Camaro. Chris Rice returns as crew chief as well as primary sponsor Leaf Filter Gutter Protection.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS):
2016: Tyler ReddickBrad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Ford F-150 - In 23 races, the Corning, CA driver led 293 laps, scored one win, one pole, eight top-5s, 12 top-10s, had an 8.3 average start, an 11.4 average finish, earned 511 points and closed out the season ninth in the standings.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: Pole – Bristol 8/17
Best 2016 finish: Win – Las Vegas 10/1
Last career NCWTS win: Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 1, 2016.
2017: Reddick parted ways with BKR at the end of 2016 and moved up to the XFINITY Series. Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Reddick will pilot the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro in multiple NXS races (18 to 22). He will share the car with Cup regular Kyle Larson. Mike Shiplett will continue to lead the team as crew chief.

2016: John Hunter Nemechek – NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado – In 23 races, the Mooresville, NC driver led 99 laps, scored two wins, one pole, five top-5s, 11 top-10s, had a 13.1 average start, a 12.1 average finish, earned 2,133 points and made the 2016 NCWTS Chase. After the Round of 8 races, he was eliminated and closed out the season eighth in the standings.
Best 2016 NCWTS start: Pole – Iowa 6/18
Best 2016 finishes: Win – Atlanta 2/27 and CTMP 9/4
Last career NCWTS win: Canadian Tire Motorsports Park on September 4, 2016.
2017: Nemechek’s family-owned NEMCO Motorsports will field the No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado full-time again for John Hunter Nemechek. Crew chief Gere Kennon and primary sponsor Fire Alarm Services will return as well.

2016: Ben Kennedy – Red Horse Racing No. 11 Toyota Tundra (3 races) and GMS Racing No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado (20 races) - In 23 races, the Daytona Beach, FL driver led 54 laps, scored one win, four top-5s, 10 top-10s, had a 12.3 average start, an 11.5 average finish, earned 2,162 points and made the 2016 NCWTS Chase. Kennedy made it through the Round of 8 races but was eliminated after the Round of 6 events and closed out the season seventh in the standings. He also made one XFINITY Series start driving Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro at Iowa Speedway; started 6th, finished 10th.
Best 2016 NCWTS starts: 3rd – Charlotte 5/21 and Iowa 6/18
Best 2016 finish: Win – Bristol 8/17
Last career NCWTS win: Bristol Motor Speedway on August 17, 2016.
2017: GMS Racing has announced Kaz Grala as driver of the No. 33 Silverado for this coming season. No firm word at this time on Ben Kennedy’s plans for 2017 in any series.

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Lineup full-time teams

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/ Performance Plus

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/Rush Truck Centers

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

Daniel Suarez *

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

23

Gray Gaulding *

? (33 races)

Toyota

BK Racing

24

Chase Elliott

NAPA Auto Parts/3M/Kelley Blue Book/Mountain Dew/SunEnergy1/Hooters

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/Visone RV

Ford

GoFAS Racing

33

?

???

Chevrolet

Circle Sport w/TMG

34

Landon Cassill

Love’s Travel Stops/Taco Bell

Ford

Front Row Motorsports

37

Chris Buescher

Scott Products/Cottonelle Mega

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/CreditOne

Chevrolet

Chip Ganassi Racing

43

Aric Almirola

Smithfield Foods/U.S. Air Force/Fresh From Florida

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/Auto-Owners Insurance/WIX Filters

Toyota

Furniture Row Racing

83

Corey LaJoie

Dustless Blasting  (partial season)

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

Elliott Sadler **

Golden Corral (Daytona 500 only)

Chevrolet

Tommy Baldwin Racing

16

**

 

 

Roush Fenway Racing

30

**

???

Chevrolet

The Motorsports Group

44

**

 

 

Richard Petty Motorsports

51

Timmy Hill **

?  (Daytona 500 only)

Chevrolet

Rick Ware Racing

55

Reed Sorenson **

?

Toyota

Premium Motorsports

96

D.J. Kennington **

Castrol/Lordco Auto Parts (Daytona 500 only)

Toyota

Gaunt Brothers Racing

 

 

 ** No Charter