PSLogo Fastwax PFC

News

TRACKING THE CHANGES: Cup Series Silly Season

By  | 
  • 5
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    5
    Shares

From one season to the next, NASCAR is never short of changes as there are always drivers in new rides entering another year of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition.

The 2018 campaign will be no different, so let’s review where things stand as of December 6, 2017.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

Darrell Wallace Jr. will finally get his chance to run a full Cup Series schedule in 2018, as he replaces Aric Almirola in the No. 43 at Richard Petty Motorsports. While Almirola was out with an injury, Wallace ran four races, with a best-finish of 11th at Kentucky Speedway.

Russell LaBounty | NKP

Aric Almirola takes his Smithfield sponsorship to Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10, replacing Danica Patrick, after spending the past six years at Richard Petty Motorsports. He placed 29th in the 2017 rankings with three top-fives.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

Danica Patrick announced at Homestead-Miami Speedway that the 2017 campaign marked her final season of full-time competition. She will run the 2018 Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, before retiring from racing. She has yet to announce which team, but would like to run both for the same organization. Roger Penske has confirmed Team Penske is full on both sides, entering three entries at Daytona and four at Indianapolis already. Chip Ganassi, though, has only stated that he likes the idea, but it needs to make business sense. Patrick scored seven top-10’s in 190 Cup starts. 

Russell LaBounty | NKP

William Byron makes the move to the Cup Series after taking home the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship. He replaces Kasey Kahne at Hendrick Motorsports, but will not adorn the No. 5. Instead, he will have the No. 24 – which has been Chase Elliott‘s number for the past two seasons.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

Kasey Kahne heads over to Leavine Family Racing, replacing Michael McDowell in the No. 95. Kahne spent the last six years at Hendrick Motorsports, scoring a victory in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2017. 

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

Michael McDowell has yet to announce any plans for 2018.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

Chase Elliott will return to Hendrick Motorsports for a third season, but with a new car number. After running the No. 24 for the past two years, he will continue the family legacy in switching to his father Bill Elliott‘s No. 9. In his sophomore campaign, he placed fifth in the season-ending standings.

Russell LaBounty | NKP

Ryan Blaney will drive a third entry at Team Penske, the No. 12, after spending the past two seasons at the Wood Brothers. He scored his first career victory at Pocono Raceway earlier this year.

Barry Cantrell | NKP

Paul Menard jumps over to Wood Brothers after putting in seven seasons at Richard Childress Racing. Menard completed the 2017 campaign ranked 23rd in the standings.

Richard Childress Racing has yet to announce a replacement for Menard in the No. 27, so it appears the organization may shift from three to two entries in 2018. However, there has yet to be a confirmation yet from the team so a third driver could still be named.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

Erik Jones will drive the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing Matt Kenseth. Jones won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in 2017 driving a second entry for Furniture Row Racing.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

Matt Kenseth announced that he was unable to find a ride to his satisfaction, resulting in him stepping away from competition. Kenseth put together an elusive career, including a Cup Series Championship in 2003.

Furniture Row Racing announced that they will not enter the No. 77 in 2018, focusing on Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 78 solely.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

Landon Cassill stated he will not return to Front Row Motorsports on twitter. Since the announcement in October, he has yet to reveal any plans for 2018. He scored a season-best 19th at Daytona in July.

Front Row Motorsports has yet to reveal any plans with regards for the No. 34 in 2018.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

Kurt Busch has yet to sign a contract for the 2018 season. After spending the past four seasons together, both Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing have openly stated they want to stick together.

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

Ray Black Jr. announced that he will run the full schedule for Rick Ware Racing in 2018. Black Jr. ran three Cup events in 2017, along with 21 XFINITY races; he scored an XFINITY season-best 12th-place finish at Daytona in July.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

Alex Bowman‘s work behind the scenes at Hendrick Motorsports as a test driver has paid off, as he will drive the No. 88 full-time in 2018, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bowman ran 10 races in 2016 while Earnhardt Jr. was on the sidelines with a concussion, scoring a best finish of sixth at Phoenix Raceway in November after sitting on the pole.

Russell LaBounty | NKP

Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired from full-time Cup competition after 18 seasons, which were highlighted by a pair of Daytona 500 victories. He has stated that he will run three to four XFINITY Series events in 2018.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement

Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.