Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Next 16 - Driver Review and Rating Runner Up Editon

Aric Almirola

Aric just barely missed the Chase this season and even almost won at Richmond in September. Aric was the leading charge at Richard Petty Motorsports and when you think about it Aric is really the only driver who has been with Richard Petty for a long period of time other than Marcos Ambrose. Aric could land RPM in the chase and who knows who will Join Aric at RPM after Sam Hornish Jr. and RPM announced they would be going seperate ways. Regan Smith and David Ragan are the leading names.

Season Rating - B

Kasey Kahne

The Other Hendrick Motorsports driver had a very uneventful 2015 on the Track. He was the only Hendrick driver to not record a win in 2015 and he only made it in the Top 5 3 times in 2015 which is a moderate number but considering what his teammates did in 2015 it was not a good year. If I was Kasey at the end of my contract at Hendrick Motorsports I would be exploring my options. 

Season Rating - C-


Kyle Larson

Another sucessful season for Kyle Larson. The 2014 Sunnoco Rookie Of The Year had an impressive season almost winning numerous times including at the Season ending Race at Homestead. Kyle began 2015 by winning the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan from Indy Car and NASCAR Teammate Jamie McMurray. 

Season Rating - B

Greg Biffle

Roush Fenway Racing had a roller coaster year in 2015 with Team Veteran Greg Biffle led the way but that was not good enough. It was the first year since the Chase Format was brought in in 2004 that a Roush Fenway Racing Driver did not make the chase. Greg had good cars and almost won at Charlotte and New Hampshire. At New Hampshire an error on both drivers end put Brad Keselowski out of contention for the win. Greg will look for a stellar 2016 but bugs may infest him as Ortho announced that after one year they would depart from Greg Biffle. 

Season Rating - C

Austin Dillon

Yes that car flying through the air is the #3 driven by Austin Dillon. Many thought Austin was badly injured or even worse but luckily Austin got out of the car and waved to the fans. That was the bad highlight of the 2015 season but Austin had many good things to over look this bad crash at Daytona in July. 1 top 5 and 5 top 10's up from 2014. Austin was seen a ton on TV this season and that was for good reasons and bad. Look for the #3 Car to return to Victory Lane next season with Austin behind the wheel!

Season Rating - B-

AJ Allmendinger

AJ announced earlier this season that he would be returning to JTG Daugherty Racing for many years to come and do you blame him? AJ's biggest issue this season was putting to much pressure on himself and many electrical problems. AJ is a great driver and maybe with more and more support from his fans and sponsors he will get better! I mean who really wants to turn down joining Dinger Nation?

Season Rating - C+

Casey Mears

With support from Geico how can this man do anything wrong? I mean his back up is a Gecko as a Back Up driver who wants to mess with Casey Mears? Casey has had a good season and evidently it was good enough for Casey to have a new long term contract with Geico and Germain Racing. This is one of those teams that continues to impress year in and out with great finishes and an even greater driver.

Season Rating - C

Danica Patrick

The next NASCAR's Most Popular Driver? It's a high possibility and with that she could gain more fans and more sponsors eyes which in our sport would be a very good thing. Danica has had a successful season despite all of the hate she gets from certain fans she has more people who like her than people who don't. Danica had a couple great finishes even being in contention for a win at Kansas. I feel her first win is just around the horizon!

Season Rating - B-

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr must enjoy the cold weather because at majority of the tracks he was good at it was cold. Like a 4th at a cold and wet Bristol, 8th at a cold and wet Dover among others. Stenhouse really only had a winning performance at Bristol and Kentucky. Ricky like Girlfriend Danica Patrick have had a very good year but has room for improvement.

Season Rating - C+


Sam Hornish Jr.

In his first and only season at Richard Petty Motorsports something was lacking. Never having a full time primary with different colors each week it got hard for people to find Sam Hornish Jr in the field. A noteable moment for Sam was at Auto Club when his spotter said that he was clear and he went up and clipped a car and hit the wall. Sam's sponsor at the time took full responsabillity.

Season Rating - D-


David Ragan

The Filler. David Ragan drove for 3 different teams in 2015. Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Michael Waltrip Racing. David did very well in 2015 despite not having a solid ride until after Talladega. David is one of the drivers whose 2016 plans are very uncertain. Many talks of him heading to Richard Petty Motorsports in either the Xfinity Series or Cup Series. I predict Ryan Truex will get the newly open #43 in the Xfinity Series so look for it to be either Regan Smith or David Ragan in the #9 next season.

Season Rating - B+

Trevor Bayne

In his first full season in a cup ride for Roush Fenway Racing Trevor did the best he could with what he was in. Trevor had many wrecks and will certainly look for 2016 to be better. Roush Fenway Racing as a whole will look to get better next season and will hopefully land one of their cars in the chase if not all 3! Chris Buescher could come up to the cup series in 2016 but I see him staying in the Xfinity Series for another year or two.

Season Rating - D+

Tony Stewart

Tony completed his first full time season since 2012 this season but not on good terms. Having bad finishes after bad finishes Smoke had seemed to lose his fire and well I think that is why Tony Stewart will be retiring at the end of 2016. It's sad to see but everyone retires sooner or later. Look for smoke's retirement year to be just as special as the previous 17 if not more special. One win is elusive for Smoke and that is the Daytona 500. Will Smoke be the first to lock his spot in the chase come 2016?

Season Rating - E+

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier's season was a good one for this underfunded team. This ended up being Justin's final year at HScott Motorsports  as he will be heading to JR Motorsports to compete full time in the Xfinity Series with backing from Brandt. JR Motorsports also previously announced Elliott Sadler would drive a second full-time entry for the team in 2016. Chase Elliott currently drives the No. 9 that Sadler will fill once Elliott moves to the Cup season next year.

Season Rating - C-

Cole Whitt

In his first full season with Front Row Motorsports Cole Whitt became just really another Field Filler. Most races had FRM just make it on owner points which showed something was wrong with Front Row Motorsports this season and I dont know if it was a technical issue or what but talks are having Front Row move to Chevrolet, that is strictly a rumor. We do know that FRM will down grade from 3 to 2 cars in 2016 but the question sits of who will be on the chopping block? 

Season Rating - E-

David Gilliland

Another disappointing season for David Gilliland that saw his best start be thrown away by an early crash at Daytona. I honestly don't think Gilliland will be cut though if he does he will have Loves Truck Stops with him. Front Row is lacking something and it's certainly not a veteran. Expect Gilliland to stay in the #38 at Front Row Motorsports in 2016.

Season Rating - E-

2016 plans uncertain for Leavine Family Racing

Leavine Family Racing set out to compete in 20 races this season. They raced in 16 events with an average starting position of 29.3 and an average finish of 30.6 across the season; the average finish of the team an improvement from 2014. The uncertainty of the future of the NASCAR ownership model has been a struggle for Leavine Family Racing as they work to attract personnel and partners leading into the 2016 season. While bigger, established teams have started
preparing for Daytona, Leavine Family Racing is in a standstill - awaiting decisions by NASCAR in order to move forward. "Thanksgiving is still going to be pretty thought provoking because we have about eight different scenarios that our team could go in next year," said team owner Bob Leavine. "It's going to be a challenging off-season, we've talked about maybe getting contract labor to work later at night and have another shift at the shop to get the cars done. Committing to your first season as a full-time team is a big deal. You don't go from 20 to 36 races without some planning."
Michael McDowell and the team are looking forward to continuing the growth in 2016 and beyond. "This year has had its challenges - we've had set backs with fires and things like that - but overall I feel that we've persevered," said McDowell. "You know we are a small team, and we've accomplished some of the goals that we wanted to accomplish and we have to accomplish more still yet. It's been a slow process, but we knew it was going to be that
way. We are all really looking forward to next year and continuing that growing process."(Leavine Family Racing, 2015)

We here at The NASCAR News Source hope to see Michael and Leavine Family Racing back in 2016! Hopefully with even more support from Team Penske! Good Luck Guys!!

The Top 16 - Driver Review and Rating 1st Edition

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch completed the ultimate comeback by winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship last weekend in Homestead. Kyle had missed the first 11 races due to an injury that happened when Kyle's #54 Toyota Camry went in at a fast pace at the inside wall that was unprotected from safer barriers. Kyle had a goal set in front of him after being granted eligible for the chase as long as he made it into the Top 30 points. He won 4 races and that landed him into the chase. Kyle then proceeded to have consistent finishes throughout the whole chase to land him in the Championship Four. Kyle Busch worked very hard for this championship and looking to 2016 with the new rule package he could back up that with his second championship in a row

Season Rating - B+
Chase Rating - A

Kevin Harvick

After a championship win in 2014 Kevin Harvick never missed a beat in 2015. Kevin did everything he did in 2014 with the exception of winning a championship. Kevin had 23 Top 5's, which was up from 2014, 28 Top 10's, and 3 wins which was down from 2014. In the chase Kevin very well dodged bullet after bullet with winning at Dover and Starting a wreck that ended up taking out the field at Talladega en route to the second to final round in the chase. At Homestead Kevin did what he needed to do and If it had not been because of Kyle Busch Kevin would be the champion!

Season Rating - A
Chase Rating - B-

Jeff Gordon

In his final season of his NASCAR career Jeff had moderate showing after moderate showing. He didn't win races and would be involved in last lap wrecks in others. Jeff just got in the chase by points but when it got to chase time that #24 team had it rolling. They would almost win a few races and once they got to Martinsville they did what they had to to make it to Homestead. After Matt Kenseth wrecked Joey Logano, Jeff would be next in line to win the race and that was what happened. Though Jeff would not ride off into the sunset with the championship he was happy. 

Season Rating - C+
Chase Rating - A

Martin Truex Jr.

The little team that could was just what Martin Truex Jr and his team was. This year one of the teams goals were to lead more than one lap. They led a total of 567. Truex also delivered the team their first win since Darlington in 2011 with Regan Smith. Martin had a very consistent year starting at Daytona and ending At Homestead. Martin continued to impress drivers one by one and expect to see him impress next season in a new Toyota Camry. With that new rule package I can see Toyota vs. Ford.

Season Rating - A
Chase Rating - B+

Carl Edwards

Carl moved from Roush Yates Racing to join former Teammate Matt Kenseth and well that move was a good win. Winning 2 races in his first year at Joe Gibbs Racing. Carl just missed the Final Four because of Mother Nature. Carl had a very successful year he really impressed many and I think he helped make many drivers decision to move on to another team a little easier. Look for Carl to continue his great runs. Carl was one of the few drivers who won in the package they raced at Darlington which is also the 2016 package.

Season Rating - B+
Chase Rating - B

Joey Logano

This was the one guy many were happy to see eliminated and personally I don't blame them. If Joey had won Martinsville then no one could have touched him at Homestead I mean look how he did at Homestead with being out of the Chase. Many viewed Joey as the Most Hated Driver of 2015 and that was really all because he defeated a certain popular driver at Talladega. Joey had a very successful season with 6 wins and will look to continue 2 years of momentum into a championship in 2016!

Season Rating - A+
Chase Rating - A

Brad Keselowski

Other than winning a race at Auto Club Speedway, His girlfriend having a baby, and some very neat retro paint schemes Brad didn't have an as eventful year as in 2014. Brad only won one race at Auto Club but other than that all of the wins went to teammate Joey Logano. Brad ran some very neat paint schemes which included the Famous Midnight Miller Genuine Draft Paint scheme made famous by Rusty Wallace. Brad's Girlfriend Also had a Baby Girl named Scarlett which was a real eye opener for Brad and probably had him have a new out look on life.

Season Rating - B
Chase Rating - B

Kurt Busch

After a season opening suspension Kurt still managed to salvage a great season with 2 wins, one at Richmond and the other in a rain shortened race at Michigan. How ironic is that one rain shortened race Kurt won and in another that was what eliminated him from the chase. Kurt continued to show consistency week in and week out along with a much needed clean rest of the season. Kurt also got married this season which had to be a positive for him and kept his morale up! Kurt could certainly have another successful season in 2016 and as it is looking at the moment Kurt will get to race in the Daytona 500 next season with a new associate sponsor Monster Energy Drinks.

Season Rating - B
Chase Rating - C+

Denny Hamlin

The driver who began the chase with a victory had his chase hopes come undone at Talladega. After having roof flap problems at Talladega Denny did not advance onto the Eliminator Round. Denny had many quotable quotes in 2015 that will certainly continue to be talked about going into the 2016 season. Denny is another one of those Toyota's that I feel will do very well come next season with the new rule package. 

Season Rating - B+
Chase Rating - B

Jimmie Johnson

In the past 2 years now Jimmie Johnson has had something go wrong that would eliminate him from the chase. Come Dover in the chase this year that same thing happened. A 5$ part failed and that ultimately caused Jimmie to be eliminated. Jimmie proceeded to show some heat on competing chasers including teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon. He put the fire on Brad Keselowski at Texas where Jimmie won once again! Hendrick Motorsports are in question with many on how they will do with the new rules package.

Season Rating - B
Chase Rating - B-

Ryan Newman

No second year Cinderella here just Ryan Newman. After finishing 2nd in the points in 2014 Ryan Newman would look to do it again. That would not happen come after Talladega. Ryan would have some more consistent finishes but It would not land him in victory lane for the 2nd straight year. With the Possible addition of Ty Dillon in 2016 look for RCR to be a new power house in the future. Let the cream rise to the top.

Season Rating - C+
Chase Rating - C

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Despite winning 3 Races in 2015 Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed moving on after Talladega. The question begins to be asked will Dale Earnhardt Jr ever win a Championship? Well that's a very good question with a kind of foggy answer. Lets just say in this new format Dale Earnhardt Jr will need to get better at tracks like Chicago, Kansas, and even Homestead because winning just restrictor plate tracks is not going to win a championship and honestly in my own opinion, I would like to see him win a Championship but I don't see it happening. Honestly Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a Average Driver in a Good Car which can be improved with work. 

Season Rating - B-
Chase Rating - B

Jamie McMurray

In his first chase appearance of his career Jamie did not disappoint. Though he was in only one round he surely gave Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans a reason to be nervous. Jamie is one of those dark horse type drivers who always seems to be in contention at the end of the season. Along with his Teammate Kyle Larson next season should be a very interesting season for the Chip Ganassi Racing team. 

Season Rating - C+
Chase Rating - C-

Paul Menard

Along with Jamie McMurray Paul Menard made his first appearance in the chase in his career. Paul had a very consistent 2015 in both series he raced in. Paul won at Road America in the Xfinity Series which has to help his morale in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. I mean look at how many times Kyle Busch win's in the Xfinity Series and hes the champion! Maybe if Paul won more he would smile occasionally.

Season Rating - C
Chase Rating - D+

Matt Kenseth

A dominating thrown in the trash at Martinsville. Matt was having a very good season until Charlotte came. Tire issues landed Matt in a hole that would be dug deeper the following weekend at Kansas when Matt and Joey were racing and Joey spun Matt for the win. Not many people remember Charlotte was what landed Matt in that hole and not Kansas. At Martinsville he took out Joey Logano and that landed Matt an early 2 week vacation. 

Season Rating - B-
Chase Rating - D-

Clint Bowyer

The Story that was left unwrote is what Clint Bowyer's season can be called.  Clint worked his tail off the final weeks of the regular season and he managed to make the chase but penalties would land the team in a must win situation come the first week of the chase. Clint would not be able to overcome the hump of those points lost and would finish last in the Chase. Clint has a light at the end of the Tunnel though with the HScott Motorsports deal next season and with Clint's return to Chevrolet 16' could look very positive. 

Season Rating - C+
Chase Rating - D-