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Chip Ganassi Racing
Until 2014, this team operated under the name Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, after forming in the 2008-09 offseason from the merger of two teams: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and the previous Chip Ganassi Racing.
- Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) was founded in the late 1990s by the late Dale Earnhardt, and hit its peak in the early '00s: with drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip, they were darn near unbeatable on superspeedways. They peaked in 2004, when Dale Jr. won six races on a multitude of different tracks, including the Daytona 500, and finished fifth in the inaugural Chase. After this, though, the team began to struggle mightily; Waltrip left in 2006, and Junior's departure for Hendrick in 2008 signalled the death knell for DEI.
- Ganassi started as SABCO Racingnote in the late '80s and made some good runs at the championship with Kyle Petty driving in the early '90s. Although it did continue to win races, the team didn't return to that height until Indy Car owner Chip Ganassi bought a controlling interest in 2001, with Sterling Marlin finishing 3rd in points that year, and making a serious run at the title in 2002. However, after a neck injury near the end of '02, Marlin went into decline, and the team as a whole began to fall behind.
As a combined team, they've had their ups and downs. Those ups included a Chase berth in 2009 by Juan Pablo Montoya, and four wins in 2010, including two of the biggest of the year (see below). The downs include just about everything in 2011 and 2012, before the team started turning around again in 2013 after switching alliances from Childress to Hendrick, which ultimately saw them pick up a win from Jamie McMurray, and 2014 saw further changes as former DEI principle Theresa Earnhardt was removed from her position with the team while Montoya was replaced by Kyle Larson and the team had one of its better seasons in a long time, with a combined 30 top tens.note The team is still undergoing changes, though, with Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman announcing his purchase of a minority stake in the team at the end of July 2015, although exactly what this means for Ganassi is as yet unclear.note
- Jamie McMurray (#1) - McMurray's Sprint Cup career did not start the way most Cup drivers started their careers. He entered the Sprint Cup Series when tapped to drive the #40 Coors Light Dodge as a replacement for Sterling Marlin for the final races of the season, after Marlin was injured. In his role as a relief driver, McMurray became the first modern-era driver to win in his second start (fall Charlotte Sprint Cup race). The following year, Jamie got the Rookie of the Year honors. He drove the #42 for Ganassi until 2006, when he left for Roush Fenway Racing and formed their #26 team. When a rule change forced Roush Fenway to shut down its fifth team after the 2009 season, Jamie returned to the now-merged Earnhardt Ganassi team for 2010, and immediately snapped a two-and-a-half year winless streak for the organization with a Daytona 500 victory. Though he would win the Brickyard 400 and the fall Charlotte race in that same year, he missed the Chase againnote and has slipped back toward midpack since, though he made a comeback in 2013, recording several top five and top ten finishes, including a second place finish to Matt Kenseth at Kentucky, and highlighted his year by winning the October race at Talladega. In 2014, while he struggled with consistency in the points races, he also added to his list of big race wins by snagging the All-Star Race. He improved his consistency to the 2015 season, locking into his first career Chase berth despite going winless, but couldn't pick up his performance enough to stave off elimination in the Challenger round, losing out on a painful tiebreaker with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
- Kyle Larson (#42) - The Japanese-American driver from Sacramento started his driving career in 2012 by winning both Rookie of the Year and the championship in K&N East, and late in the year had several strong runs in the Truck Series. These results led to Turner-Scott Motorsports fast-tracking him for an Xfinity debut in 2013. His Xfinity Series career began with a notorious accident where his car was sheared to pieces by the catch fencing at Daytona and injured 28 people, but after a bit more early misfourtune, he began reeling off top tens on a weekly basis. His hot streak in Xfinity and Truck Series competition in 2013 led to Ganassi signing him to the #42 Sprint Cup car starting at the 2014 Daytona 500. Many consider Larson to be "the next Kyle Busch", something he himself signaled early on by frequently racing alongside Busch and many other established names at the front of the field. Although he hasn't yet found victory lane and suffered summertime stumbles that ultimately locked him out of the Chase field, he ran away with Rookie of the Year. In 2015 however, he seemed to be caught on the "sophomore season curse"note , ending up in 19th place with 10 top 10s, & missing one race (spring Martinsville race) due to fainting.
Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing
Originally founded as Leavine Fenton Racing, the team was mostly a sight at the back of the grid, usually as a start and park. That is until 2014, when they managed to get an out-of-nowhere alliance with Penskenote , which saw their performance on the track improve somewhat, including a team-best finish of 7th place at the 2014 Coke Zero 400. After two years in this alliance, Leavine shifted again, this time to Chevrolet, a full-time schedule after years of being part-time, and an alliance with both Richard Childress Racingnote and former Hillman-Circle Sport LLC co-owner Joe Falk,note with the team changing its name to reflect this.
- Michael McDowell (#95, 26+ races) - Originally brought on by Michael Waltrip Racing to replace Dale Jarrett after his retirement in early 2008. He's best known for being the first driver to do a real-world test of the safety features on the Gen-5 racecar, in a frightening crash at Texas shortly after his debut. His performance in the car was rather mediocre, and he was ultimately released before the end of '08 due to sponsor issues at MWR. After retreating to Xfinity for 2009, he returned to Cup with Phil Parsons Racing in 2010, and spent the next four seasons at the back of the pack, before moving to Leavine for 2014. McDowell was able to improve somewhat, although much of that came down to not start-and-parking a majority of his schedule - he and Leavine are still not a serious factor most weeks. McDowell and Leavine are also being hurt by the team's part-time status, having suffered four DNQs over the last two yearsnote due to qualifying rainouts andnote the rebounding number of full-time entries.
- Ty Dillon (#95, up to 10 races)(i) - The younger brother of Austin Dillon, Ty has shown flashes of the same talent but has yet to put it together in the same way, which might explain why he's still down in Xfinity at the same point where Austin was moving up to a full-time Cup ride. Ty's also proven more prone to outbursts and feuding with other drivers, which has not helped his stature with the fans. His biggest racing highlight came in 2014, when he became the first Xfinity regular to win their race at Indianapolis after a late-race duel with Kyle Busch.
They won Truck Series titles in 2006 and 2010 with Todd Bodine. They've not been much of a factor during their time in the Sprint Cup, though.
- Casey Mears (#13) - Related to racing royalty (his uncle, Rick Mears, is a four-time Indy 500 winner), much was expected of him when he joined Ganassi in 2003. However, he was quickly overshadowed by Jamie McMurray, and later stints at Hendrick and Childress only further proved that he wasn't a top-level talent in NASCAR. However, his time with Germain has actually been fairly productive, elevating the team from the borderline of the now-defunct top 35 into a consistent second-tier team, even garnering several top tens in the plate races.
Ever since Jeff Gordon arrived in the sport in the mid-1990s, Hendrick can be said to be the powerhouse team of NASCAR. It has won a NASCAR-record eleven championships since 1995note .
- Kasey Kahne (#5) - Kahne came onto the Cup circuit to replace Bill Elliott at Evernham in 2004, and has generally been in the vicinity of the Chase since then, making it in 2006, 2009, and 2012-2014. Kahne's currently best known for being the only driver to win a race for four different manufacturers (for Dodge, for Toyota, for Ford, and for Chevrolet), as well as being a three-time Coca-Cola 600 winner, and was generally considered to be better than the second-tier cars that previous teams were giving him. He seemingly proved this assumption accurate with a fourth place points finish in 2012, his first season driving with Hendrick Motorsports.
Since then, however, Kahne has provided cause to rethink this assumption, as he limped into the 2013 Chase (versus surging into it in 2012) and never found his groove once he was there, ultimately finishing 12th in points, even though he won the same number of races. Escalating struggles in 2014 resulted in Kahne just barely making the Chase after a hail-mary win at Atlanta, and after being making the Contender round by the skin of his teeth, Kahne's run ended there and he meandered so badly afterward that he dropped back to 15th, behind even three of the four Challenger round eliminations.note Things got worse again in 2015, as Kasey sustained his first winless season since 2010, with a difficult summer ultimately bouncing him from the Chase.
- Chase Elliott (#24)(R) - Of the mid-2010's crop of Young Guns, perhaps no one has higher expectations on them than Chase Elliott, who has not one but two gigantic legacies to fill. The son of Bill Elliott, one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR history, the younger Elliott hit the short-list of possible heirs to the #24 of Jeff Gordon soon after signing a development contract with Hendrick Motorsports in 2011,note and was officially confirmed for the spot and a full-time debut in 2016 when Gordon announced his retirement in 2015. However, his results on the way up the development ladder indicate that if anyone can fill those shoes and carve out his own legacy, it's Chase. He's met or exceeded expectations at nearly every step of that ladder, winning races in K&N East, ARCA and the Trucks, but nowhere were his results more spectacular than his first season the Xfinity Series, where he won three times in 2014 (including two in fields stacked with Sprint Cup regulars) on the way to becoming the first rookie to win a national series title in NASCAR history. His second Xfinity run was considered a bit of a letdown, as he could only win one time in 2015 (although it was still another companion race, and he specifically had to get around and then hold off Kyle Busch) and fell slightly short of Chris Buescher in his title defense, while a limited run of Cup races in the #25 saw a handful of top twenties with a best finish of 16th.note Nonetheless, many believe that Elliott is in a prime position to continue Hendrick's run of dominance in the Cup Series.
- Jimmie Johnson (#48) - Was, for a time, the Boring Invincible Hero of the series, winning five straight championships from 2006 to 2010 and a sixth in 2013. His 76 wins (and counting) make him the only active driver in the top ten on the all-time wins list (tied for seventh), and with just fourteen seasons under his belt, he's on a record pace as far as championships are concerned.note It's telling of the high expectations on him that a third-place points finish in 2012 was considered disappointing (he seemingly had that championship locked up until bad luck took him out of the last two races), or the fact that his worst points finish before 2014 was sixth in 2011. As noted above, 2013 was much more in line with those expectations, with six wins including his second Daytona 500 (the first coming in 2006), and a Chase run where his worst finish was 13th.
The elimination-style Chase format has not been kind to Johnson, however - while he won three times in four races at the beginning of the summer 2014, including his first Coke 600 in nearly a decade and his first Michigan win ever,note he failed to contend for wins as strongly outside of this stretch, and after transferring easily to the Contender round of the Chase, he wrecked at Kansas, historically a strong track for him, struggled with handling at Charlotte and got hung out to dry at Talladega, which ended his championship hopes, and he eventually fell short of the top ten for the first time in his career. 2015 started well for Johnson, with 4 victories in the first thirteen races, including his tenth at Dover, making him the first driver since Dale Earnhardt at Talladega to accomplish that feat. But after another rough mid-to-late summer, finishes of 11th and 6th in the first two Challenger round races went for naught due to a broken axle seal in the fall Dover race, with the resulting 41st-place finish causing another stunning early exit from championship contention. Nonetheless, Johnson won the fall Texas race in both 2014 and 2015note , extending a streak in that race that began in 2012, and kept alive his 12-year streak of winning at least one Chase race.note In 2015, Johnson was able to just barely stay in the top ten in points, but still finished well behind any season of the previous formats.
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (#88) - "Little E" or "Junebug" started his career driving for his father's race team in the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo at DEI. In his first season, he won two races and the All-Star Race and was runner-up to Matt Kenseth for Rookie of the Year. The 2001 season had ups and downs for Junior, as his father was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500, but he also won three races (Pepsi 400 at Daytona; Dover, and Talladega). Earnhardt, Jr. currently holds the record for most consecutive wins at Talladega Superspeedway (four), set from October 2001 through April 2003. He also won the 2004 Daytona 500, but after winning a career best six races in 2004 and making the first Chase, Junior fell back in the pack for several years. He is NASCAR's perennial most popular driver,note but seems to be eternally stuck in the shadow of his legendary father, and has been plagued by lengthy winless streaks, the longest of which (143 races, ended at Michigan in June 2012) started after coming to Hendrick. Some have accused Hendrick of keeping him around solely for merchandising purposes, but a renewed (and thus far, successful) effort to turn him into a consistent championship contender contradicts this, as since 2011 Junior has racked up five straight Chase appearances, with 2014 standing out from the start when he won his second Daytona 500. Later that summer he would complete a season sweep of Pocono to secure his first multi-win season since 2004, but after a fairly easy transfer to the Contender round of that year's Chase, Junior found himself drummed out of contention due to a blown tire at Kansas, a broken shifter at Charlotte and a crash at Talladega. In 2015 he proved to be the driver to beat at the plate tracks - after narrowly missing out on another Daytona 500 (at third place), he won the spring race at Talladega and the July race at Daytona to secure both another Chase berth and another multi-win season. Unfortunately, his 2015 Chase proceeded in similar fashion, as after taking a tiebreaker over McMurray to the Contender round, Junior once again got wrecked at Charlotte and Kansas, with a pit road penalty and the controversial final restart and wreck at Talladega causing him to fall one spot short of a hail-mary transfer to the Eliminator round. Much like Jimmie Johnson, Junior has played spoiler in the Eliminator round both years, scoring his first career win at Martinsville in 2014 and his third at Phoenix in 2015.
Previously known as Phoenix Racing, this Chevy outfit has been a mid- to rear-field staple for over a decade, usually being driven by a rotation of part-timers. In May 2013, founder James Finch announced plans to shut down after Indianapolis at the end of July, due to ongoing lack of sponsorship, but several competing buyers came forward, leading to auction that was won by Harry Scott, Jr. of Turner-Scott Motorsports, who took over at Chicagoland in September, and renamed the team in February 2014.
- Clint Bowyer (#15) - Originally Richard Childress Racing's number two driver behind Kevin Harvick, he left the organization after they shut down the #33 following the 2011 season. Bowyer immediately became the linchpin in MWR's dramatic and near-instantaneous rise into NASCAR's elite, winning three races and pulling off a career-best second in the 2012 points. However, he also became the linchpin in the aforementioned Spingate scandal after drawing the caution at the September 2013 Richmond race to get then-teammate Martin Truex, Jr. into the Chase, and a winless year throughout ended with him falling back to seventh in points. Bowyer continued to slide in 2014, as he failed to find his way back to victory lane, and ended up seven points short of the last available Chase spot. 2015 proceeded in a similar fashion, with a winless Bowyer continuing to cling to the Chase bubble, and with MWR shutting down at the end of 2015, Bowyer found himself looking for a new team. He did help his cause by improving just enough from 2014 to squeak into the Chase this time, only to suffer three mediocre runs while also getting nailed for a parts violation at Chicagoland, which kept him from getting out of the Challenger round and, with major struggles through the rest of the Chase, eventually put him at the very back of the Chase field.note At the same time, Bowyer's long-term plans came into focus, starting with a place-holder year in HScott's #51, renumbered to 15 to match his MWR number; Bowyer will then move to Stewart-Haas in 2017 as the heir to Tony Stewart's #14.
- Michael Annett (#46) - He posted mostly solid numbers over several years of Xfinity racing. In 2014, he stepped up to Sprint Cup to replace Dave Blaney at Tommy Baldwin Racing. He did post as many top twenties as the entire TBR organization in 2013 combined, but suffered enough crashes and parts failures to keep him from improving on Blaney's overall points standing, and subsequently moved on to a second HScott entry for 2015. He slipped back this year, suffering more crashes than 2014, as well as DNQs at Atlantanote and the fall Talladega race. Despite this, and despite also being a rumored candidate for replacement by Clint Bowyer, it appears his long-time sponsorship from Pilot Flying J will allow him to continue on with the team in 2016.
JTG Daugherty Racing
A relatively obscure outfit, which previously ran Toyotas in an alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing. They provided Marcos Ambrose with his big break in the sport, but didn't get to reap the benefits before he left. In 2014, they moved to Chevrolet, and a new alliance with Richard Childress.
- A.J. Allmendinger (#47) - The Dinger's career has been a severe roller-coaster ride, more so than any other driver. A former Champ Car driver, Allmendinger made his NASCAR debut in 2007 with Red Bull, then moved to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009, before signing a one-year deal with Penske in 2012 for the #22 that Joey Logano drives. He was released from Penske just before the half-way mark after failing a drug test, and drove two races for Phoenix in October while their regular driver Regan Smith was subbing for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He started 2013 driving the 51 for Phoenix on a part-time basis, along with some Indy Car starts and two Xfinity road course races for Penske, both of which ended in Victory Lane. Partway through the year, JTG Daugherty picked him up for five events (later increased to nine), and after positive results compared to Bobby Labonte's performance, they picked him up for the full 2014 season. This turned out to be a good move, because, while the team is still lagging on the oval tracks, Allmendinger was able to display his road-course prowess with the team, ultimately scoring his and JTG Daugherty's first win ever at Watkins Glen, which also secured them a Chase berth under the new system. Unfortunately, with no road courses in the Chase, A.J. endured three mediocre runs at three oval tracks and was eliminated after the Challenger round. In 2015, despite winning both road course poles, he failed to convert those to victories and failed to make the Chase.
The Motorsports Group
- Josh Wise (#30) - Competed for Rookie of the Year honors in 2012, but lost out to Stephen Leicht. However, while Leicht withdrew from NASCAR, Wise returned to compete for Front Row in Sprint Cup, as well as The Motorsports Group's now-defunct Xfinity team. After splitting from Front Row following the 2013 season, he was picked up by Phil Parsons Racing for 2014. During the 2014 season, Reddit's NASCAR and Dogecoin communities crowdfunded the #98 team, fielding a Dogecoin-sponsored car, nicknamed the "Dogecar", at the Aaron's 499. Success of the Dogecar led to Reddit & Dogecoin extending their sponsorship for Sonoma & the second Talladega race, and also led to a surprise berth for Wise in the All-Star, courtesy of the Fan Vote. Despite starting the 2015 season with a DNQ at the 500, Wise managed to get PPR a top-10 finish (his first) at Talladega in what became PPR's final race in Cup. Wise transitioned to Premium Motorsports after the sale of the #98, but decided to leave the team after crashing and finishing last at Kentucky, saying he and the team "did not share the same goals". Following this, he picked up a part-time ride with Go FAS Racing (co-owner Archie St. Hilaire had also fielded him at times in Xfinity), and one-offs with both BK Racing and TMG's new Cup squad in between. TMG then picked him up for a run at full-time in 2016.
Owner Jay Robinson first became involved in NASCAR in 2000 in the Xfinity Series, and entered the Cup Series in 2012. His Cup teams have almost always included at least one other partner - Troy Blakeney in 2012; Joe Nemechek in 2013; Nemecheknote , Michael Waltripnote and investment banker Nat Hardwicknote in 2014; and Tommy Baldwinnote and Richard Childressnote in 2015, with Robinson also buying out the #98 later that year due to former owner Phil Parsons pulling out of Cup. His 2016 partner is Mike Hillman, the other former co-owner of Hillman-Circle Sport LLC, who was brought in to oversee Robinson's Cup program (and for the #40's owner points); most of Hillman's former employees have made the jump as well.
- Reed Sorenson (#55) - Sorenson debuted in the Ganassi #41 in 2006, and stayed with the team until the end of 2008. Afterward, he moved to the #43 at newly-merged Richard Petty Motorsports, but when the team absorbed Yates Racing at the beginning of 2010 he was released in favor of retaining Paul Menard and A.J. Allmendinger. Since then, Sorenson's mostly raced part-time for back of the pack teams, with only his 2014 ride at Tommy Baldwin Racing resulting in a full-season run.
- Cole Whitt (#98) - Whitt posted decent numbers in the Truck and Xfinity series, leading to a trial run in fall 2013 by Swan Racing. Despite some struggles during said trial run, the team decided to give him a full season to find his groove in Sprint Cup, and he did appear to be making progress when Swan sold its #26 entry to BK Racing. Whitt ultimately did the best job of any 2014 Toyota rookie in outperforming the subpar equipment he found himself stuck in, although this still left him deep in the points and mid-pack in the rookie standings. Nonetheless, Front Row Motorsports was impressed enough to sign him (and 10-race sponsor Speed Stick GEAR) to revive their third entry, which went dormant after struggling with qualifying in early 2014. Whitt ran much the same form in 2015, and was still ahead of a more impressive set of teammates than the ones he raced with at Swan and BK. However, Front Row chose to shut down the #35 again at seasons end, and Whitt was forced to make yet another jump, this time to Premium.
Richard Childress Racing
From 1986 to 1994, this was the preeminent Chevrolet team, and indeed in all of NASCAR, which was no doubt simply because their driver was Dale Earnhardt. However, they've never been quite the same since Hendrick rose to prominence, and Earnhardt's death took an especially hard toll on them. However, Childress is still among the top teams, and has been working hard in recent years to bring themselves back to the forefront, efforts that yielded three thirds in four seasons for Harvick (2010, '11 ad '13). In recent years, Childress' main focus has been on getting grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon through NASCAR's development ladder and into Cup seats.
- Austin Dillon (#3) - Austin entered full-time Sprint Cup competition with very high auspices, being the second driver (after Greg Biffle, see below) to win Truck and Xfinity titles on his way up the ladder.note He also had some solid runs in limited Cup starts from 2011-2013. However, like Ricky Stenhouse in 2013, Dillon was solid but quiet in his first full Cup season, perhaps disappointing those who expected an instant breakout, and with Kyle Larson providing stiffer competition than Stenhouse faced in '13, Dillon was unable to follow in his footsteps as Rookie of the Year. Dillon was able to avoid a slide deep into the pack in his second year, though, and even improved somewhat in the second half, though his year was marred by a scary wreck into the catchfence at Daytona in July, which injured five spectators.
- Paul Menard (#27) - Initially coming into the Sprint Cup Series in 2007, Menard drove first for DEI, then Yates, then Richard Petty after Yates folded into them, before coming to RCR in 2011. His career to date has been heavily financed by his family through their chain of hardware stores, which give full sponsorship to any team that will hire him. After joining Childress, he fulfilled a long-held family dream by winning the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, one of the top races of the season. 2014 proceeded in similar fashion to the last several years, with Menard running in the top ten early, only to slump hard across the summer and miss the Chase by a wide margin. 2015 went better for Paul though, as he managed to avoid his "trademark" summer slump and managed to enter the Chase for the first time. Once there, though, he wasn't able to pick up his performance enough to escape the Challenger round, even suffering his worst finish at Dover with a car he had assumed would be his best of the three races.
- Ryan Newman (#31) - Newman started his career in 2002 with the #12 Alltel Dodge at Penske Racing. He managed to win Rookie of the Year in 2002, ahead of Jimmie Johnson, and won eight races in 2003, but until 2014 had never managed better than sixth in the final points. He's quite noted for being a strong qualifier, especially in 2003 when he won 11 poles(!), earning the nickname "Rocketman" in the process. He also won the 2008 Daytona 500 with Penske, Penske's only Daytona 500 victory until 2015. In 2009, he became Tony Stewart's teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing, and in his time with Stewart-Haas saw four wins, including an emotional victory at the 2013 Brickyard 400. It was announced at New Hampshire in July 2013 that the season would be Newman's last year at Stewart-Haas. Newman would subsequently sign with Richard Childress Racing in what amounted to a driver swap, as Kevin Harvick had departed RCR for SHR to displace Newman to start with.note Newman brought his Quicken Loans sponsorship with him, joining with RCR sponsor Caterpillar to keep him fully funded for the 2014 season and beyond. Much like Harvick, Newman went out on something of a high note with his previous employer, making the Chase for the third time in five seasons at SHR, although rough sledding once he was there caused him to fall short of a top ten points finish. He's been winless since joining RCR, but has done well enough in both years to seal up a Chase berth. In 2014, he went on to surprise the NASCAR community by performing well enough through each of the first three rounds to garner a Championship round berth, and even led late after playing pit strategy at Homestead, before two late cautions ultimately allowed Harvick to pass Newman, forcing him to settle for second. 2015 did not start well for Newman, since while he is still consistent, he received a 50 point penalty at Auto Club after being caught tampering the tires. He still made the Chase, and even made the Contender round, but did not finish better than 11th in the round and failed to transfer, and eventually fell just short of the overall top ten again.
Gene Haas started this team in 2003, but for years they were a fixture at the rear of the pack. Then Tony Stewart bought an ownership stake in the team in 2009, and Rick Hendrick increased technical support for the organization. They turned around nearly overnight, with Stewart turning into the first owner-driver winner in a long time. Stewart also gave the team a long-awaited Sprint Cup title in 2011. After this, though, they floundered for a couple years, which could be chalked up to growing pains - with the addition of a third car driven by Danica Patrick on a part-time basis in 2012 and for the full season in 2013, they are the first team to field a full-time female driver in the Sprint Cup Series, and the team expanded to four cars in 2014 with the addition of Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. However, based on the results of the newcomers, particularly Harvick, the team's second champion, it seems they've righted the ship.
- Kevin Harvick (#4) - Harvick is best known as the driver Richard Childress Racing tapped to replace Dale Earnhardt after his death, and instantly surprised everyone by winning at Atlanta in just his third career race in a photo-finish over Jeff Gordon. That win, plus a win at Chicagoland and a ninth place finish in the points, granted him Rookie of the Year honors for that season. After more than a decade as Childress' number one driver, including winning the 2007 Daytona 500, Harvick departed for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, bringing current sponsor Budweiser with him to the upcoming #4 car. He did make sure to go out on a high note, winning four races and tying his then-career-best third place points finish. Harvick's thus far bested that mark in both his SHR seasons - it only took until his second race with the team, at Phoenix, for him to win for the first time, and after losing a lot of fast cars fall to parts failures in between, won again at Darlington. While pit crew issues in the summer had some questioning his championship bona fides, he quashed that speculation by making the Contender round on points, the Eliminator round on his third win of the season at Charlotte,note and the Championship round on his third win in a row at Phoenix. (also his third in a row in the fall race) He then went out and bested Ryan Newman on two late restarts at Homestead to win both the race and his first Sprint Cup.note He started off 2015 without the same parts issues and rolled off five straight top two finishes, including back to back wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix (his fourth in a row at the track), and kept finishing at or near the front throughout the summer. However, he struggled in the first two rounds of the Chase, just barely making the Contender round after a hail-mary win at Dover, and then transferred to the Eliminator round in controversial fashion, being accused of causing the race-ending crash at Talladega to prevent his sour engine from costing him said transfer. Harvick did rail off three top tens in the Eliminator round, and even fell just short of winning his fifth straight at Phoenixnote after a caution that interrupted a green-flag pit cycle turned into a red-flag after a rainstorm. However, Harvick would prove no match for Kyle Busch at Homestead; while he did lead the Championship at a few points, he was left watching from second as Kyle ran off to the title on the final green-flag run.
- Danica Patrick (#10) - The first full-time female driver in the Sprint Cup Series, she, like Tony Stewart, migrated from Indy Car. She wowed people across the nation by winning the 2013 Daytona 500 pole position and finishing eighth in the race. But since then, she's spent a lot of time running middle and back of the pack, rarely a factor in winning. 2015 was a better year overall, given that she adapted fairly well with the new rules package, although top tens were still hard to come by. However, she lost her primary sponsor GoDaddy after the 2015 season, which left her career in a questionable situation until Nature's Bakery signed a 28-race multi-year deal to sponsor Danica staring in 2016.
- Tony Stewart (#14) - Tony Stewart is one of a number of NASCAR drivers who began their careers with the Indy Car circuit. He moved to NASCAR in 1999 with Joe Gibbs Racing, where he was an instant success in his first season, winning three races and finishing fourth in final points, granting him Rookie of the Year honors. Stewart gave Joe Gibbs championship titles in 2002 and 2005. In 2009, Stewart departed Joe Gibbs (likely because he had a loyalty to Chevrolet, and Gibbs had changed to Toyota in 2008) and took majority ownership in Gene Haas' back-of-the-pack team, also signing on as driver of the #14. In his first season as a driver-owner, Stewart won four races. He also gave this team their first Sprint Cup title (his own third title) in 2011. Stewart is the only Sprint Cup driver to have won Cup championships under all three sponsorship titles - Winston Cup (2002), Nextel Cup (2005), and Sprint Cup (2011). Despite early struggles in 2013, Stewart was on his way to a Chase berth until breaking his leg in a sprint car wreck in August, with Mark Martin subbing in for the majority of the remaining races. Stewart's return to Cup competition in 2014 saw him struggle to regain his form, and he sat out three races in August after fatally striking another competitor at another sprint car race just over a year after the earlier incident. Despite being granted a waiver to remain eligible if he could win at Atlanta or Richmond, Stewart ultimately missed the Chase in 2014. 2015 went From Bad to Worse for Tony, posting only 2 top ten finish through 28 races, running completely behind the pace from his teammates. With these escalating struggles, Stewart finally decided to announce plans for retirement, with 2016 marking his final run on the circuit. Unfortunately, Stewart suffered a broken back prior to the start of the season, which kept him out of the car until Richmond in April.
- Brian Vickers (#14, injury sub)- Already on his second chance after being expelled from Hendrick Motorsports in 2007, Vickers was seemingly left for dead in NASCAR after the dissolution of the Red Bull team at the end of 2011. He got another chance when he was picked up by MWR for the Martinsville, Bristol, New Hampshire and road course races, and immediately impressed, earning him an extra Cup race for MWR in 2013 and an Xfinity ride with Joe Gibbs. Gibbs later selected Vickers ahead of his Xfinity teammate (and fellow exiled Cup vet), Elliott Sadler,note to fill in for Denny Hamlin while he recovered from his back injury. Michael Waltrip Racing announced later that Vickers would drive the #55 full-time beginning in 2014. Unfortunately, 2014 wasn't what many were expecting for Vickers, as he ran in the top ten in points early in the season only to run into long stretches of bad luck in the summer, and without a victory, he was ultimately well out of Chase position by Richmond. Things got worse yet in December 2014, when it was found that the recurring medical issues that had sidelined Vickers in 2010 and late 2013 had surfaced again, forcing him back onto the operating table and out of the car for the first two races of 2015, and then again after just two races back in the car. After being cleared to race at the start of 2016, he found himself thrust into an ironic role, serving as the sub to another injured driver, Tony Stewart, in the races not being run by Ty Dillon.
- Ty Dillon (#14, injury sub)(i) - See also Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. Until Stewart returns, Dillon will serve as his sub-in at all races where Bass Pro Shops is the sponsor, due to Bass Pro's agreement with Dillon and RCR in the Xfinity Series.
- Kurt Busch (#41) - The champion of the inaugural Chase for the Cup in 2004, with Roush Fenway Racing. He later drove Penske's #2, but could never quite match his 2004 effort and was ultimately released shortly after Brad Keselowski broke out in 2011. Like his brother Kyle, he is infamous with the fans for his aggressive driving and short temper. After an off-year driving for James Finch in 2012, he was hired with six races to go by Furniture Row Racing beginning at Charlotte in the fall. Busch immediately hit a resurgence, with the car suddenly recording statistics more like that of a multi-car team, and in 2013 Busch made FRR the first single car team to make the Chase. He only ran the 2013 season with the team, as it was announced in early September that Busch would join Stewart-Haas Racing with a new team funded out of Gene Haas' own pockets and sponsored by Haas Automation, but it gave FRR momentum when they hired Martin Truex, Jr. to replace him. Busch's own teaming with SHR initially seemed a bit of a poor fit, as his 2014 season more closely resembled his run with Finch than any other part of his career, but with one key difference - he broke an 84-race winless streak at Martinsville in April, which secured him a Chase spot as well. But in keeping with the rest of his season, once in the Chase Busch suffered a blown tire-induced crash at New Hampshire and a poorly-handling racecar at Dover and failed to make it out of the Challenger round. Two months later, ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll publicly accused Busch of assaulting her during that Dover weekend, which led to a restraining order and an indefinite suspension from NASCAR that went into effect mid-Speedweeks. However, after criminal charges failed to materialize, NASCAR lifted the suspension, allowing Busch to return at Phoenix. Despite missing 3 races, and with new crew chief Tony Gibson (a change initially made near the end of the previous year), he easily made the Chase by earning two victories during the regular season, and this time transferred to the Eliminator round before being caught up in a late wreck with Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth at Martinsville, which was enough to stop his post-season run. Nonetheless, Busch was able to secure outside sponsorship for 2016, with Monster Energy Drinknote signing a unique deal that sees them split the car with Haas Automation most weeks.
Tommy Baldwin Racing
Former crew chief Baldwin started this team in 2009 after the dissolution of Bill Davis Racing and staffed up with crew members from other extinct organizations. For the first few years, he ran the team as a single car start-and-park, but starting in 2011 began to find fairly consistent sponsorship and for a time, was able to expand to two teams that, while not all that competitive, did run most races to completion. Unfortunately, a sponsorship crunch in 2015 forced him to essentially sell off the #36 to Premium Motorsports.
- Regan Smith (#7) - Originally brought on to sub for Mark Martin during his part-time period at Ginn Racing/DEI, Smith was upgraded to full-time in 2008 and won Rookie of the Year. However, the Earnhardt-Ganassi merger led to the shutdown of the #01, and Smith moved to Furniture Row Racing in 2009, where he scored both his and the team's first win in the 2011 Southern 500. In late 2012, Furniture Row released him in order to pick up Kurt Busch, and Smith began a multi-year stint as the go-to sub-in at Hendrick Motorsports and its affiliates, starting with a two-race run in the #88 while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. recovered from a concussion. He also ran some races at Phoenix Racing in early 2013, in a split role with A.J. Allmendinger; Stewart-Haas in place of both Tony Stewart (August 2014) and Kurt Busch (early 2015); and one race for Ganasssi (also early 2015) in place of Kyle Larson. He also held down a full-time Xfinity ride at JR Motorsports, with whom he posted six wins and three top five points finishes. He was released from the ride at the end of 2015 due to sponsorship issues, but was then picked up by Baldwin for the full 2016 Cup season, in a surprise off-season move.
Front Row Motorsports
Front Row has been around for several years, generally running in the back half of the field, largely due to lack of proper funding. However, they are generally strong at restrictor plate racing, as they get their first win, first pole, & multiple top 10s from restrictor plate racing. Their cars are frequently "self-sponsored" by owner Bob Jenkins through his connections to Long John Silver's and Taco Bell. In 2013, they pulled off their first Cup win, by David Ragan at Talladega. That first win managed to bring some proper funding to the team, which saw Love's Travel Stops and CSX expanding their partnership with the team during the years after, becoming financially stable enough that they didn't need to field a start-and-park car anymore to help their funding (and thus, reducing the occurrence of their cars being self-sponsored by owner Bob Jenkins), and later managed to gain a full alliance with Roush in 2016.
- Chris Buescher (#34)(R) - The cousin of 2012 Truck Series champion James Buescher, Chris quickly outshone his cousin when both went full-time Xfinity racing in 2014 - while James landed with RAB Racing and struggled to even equal predecessor Alex Bowman's numbers, Chris was recruited by Roush Fenway Racing and quickly became one of their more promising young drivers, gaining attention after his Mid-Ohio win that August and ending up top ten in points. His most notable moment in early 2015 was him bump-drafting teammate Ryan Reed to Roush Fenway's first-ever Xfinity win at Daytona, but Buescher has turned out to be a much stronger championship contender as the season has gone on, knocked off defending Xfinity champ Chase Elliott to score a win at Iowa, then won against a full compliment of Cup regulars at Dover in June, and ultimately won the Xfinity championship. His time taking Ragan's place at Front Row in 2015 came as result of the team's larger affiliation with the Ford camp, and with Roush and Front Row entering into a full alliance for 2016, Buescher will take over the car full-time. After a series of continuous bad luck during the first half of the season (including that Talladega flip), Buescher surprised everyone by winning the Pennsylvania 400 by deciding to stay out during the last few laps before the red flag.
- Landon Cassill (#38) - His most newsworthy item is the lawsuit he filed in early 2013 against former employer BK Racing, accusing them of withholding race winnings from him. He also had a minor spat with Danica Patrick at Kansas in late 2012, which notably went his way in terms race finish (Danica wound up in the wall and wrecked out. Cassill managed to save the car and tied his season-best 18th place finish). After joining Circle Sport in 2013, Cassill began to gain a reputation for being able to somewhat outperform the quality of equipment he's in, something the team exploited to help get their #40 off the ground in mid-2013. He got the team's (and his) first and only top five at Talladega in fall 2014, finishing fourth. In 2015, he made new headlines by running 14 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway to NASCAR Hall of Fame (also located in Charlotte) after driving 375 out of 400 laps of the Coca-Cola 600. In 2016, Cassill jumped to Front Row after both the #33 and the #40 were sold to other teams.
Go FAS Racing
Previously known as FAS Lane Racing, Frank Stoddard's team has operated on the lower rungs of the sport with a rotation of part-timers since forming in 2011. Starting in 2014, they teamed up with another lower-tier NASCAR team, Archie St. Hilaire's Go Green Racing, in order to pool what sponsorship the two teams do have, with St. Hilaire gradually taking greater control in subsequent seasons.
- Jeffrey Earnhardt (#32, 20+ races)(R) - The grandson of Dale Earnhardt, and the son of Dale Jr.'s older half-brother Kerry. Jeffrey's run Xfinity and Trucks on a mostly part-time basis since 2009, including an extended run with Go Green Racing in 2013 in which he ran for Xfinity Rookie of the Year; his first full-season run came the next season, with JD Motorsports. Jeffrey has thus far mostly lacked the kind of equipment that would allow him to show his actual talent level, but much like Josh Wise, his prior affiliation with Archie St. Hilaire has led to him joining forces with Go FAS, including plans for a majority season run in 2016 that will see him run for Sprint Cup ROTY.
- Bobby Labonte (#32, 4 races) - Bobby won the 2000 championship driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, making him one-half of the first pair of brothers to win the Sprint Cup title (older brother Terry won two championships driving for different teams), as well as the first of four drivers to win both the Cup and the Xfinity championship (Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are the others). His career after that was one long slide into obscurity, and by 2013 he was solidly stuck in the middle to rear of the pack. JTG Daugherty announced his replacement with A.J. Allmendinger for 2014, and he ended up making three starts for as many teams in 2014 - HScott Motorsports, Circle Sport and Tommy Baldwin Racing. Starting in 2015, he effectively replaced Terry as Go FAS Racing's superspeedway driver.
- Joey Gase (#32, 3 races)(i)
- Patrick Carpentier (#32, 2 races)
- Jeb Burton (#32, 2 races)(i)
- Eddie MacDonald (#32, 1 race)(i)
- Boris Said (#32, 1 race)
- Drivers TBA (#32)
Richard Petty Motorsports
This organization is made up of the remains of three separate former teams - Petty Enterprises, Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Yates Racing, with the teams being the former Evernham and Petty flagships, and the manufacturer coming from Yates.
- Petty Enterprises was the Petty family's team, and won ten championships (three with Lee in the '50s and seven with Richard in the '60s and '70s), but after Richard's career started going downhill in the early '80s and son Kyle left to seek better opportunity, they struggled with a succession of mediocre drivers, and their last win came with John Andretti in 1999.
- Evernham was founded in 2001 to spearhead Dodge's re-entry into the sport, being led by the team's namesake and Jeff Gordon's former crew chief Ray Evernham. They won races with Bill Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield, and Kasey Kahne, and made the Chase in each of its first three years. However, mismanagement became rampant among the team, especially after George Gillett bought a controlling interest in 2007, and by the end of 2008 they, like Petty, were on the verge of insolvency.
- Yates had been around since the '80s, fielding drivers such as Davey Allison, Ernie Irvin, and Dale Jarrett (who won the championship in 1999). However, they started falling behind the competition after Elliott Sadler's Chase berth in 2004, and their last win was a surprising victory by Jarrett at Talladega in 2005.
RPM was heavily subsidized by Roush Fenway from 2010note to 2014, but unlike the Stewart-Haas alliance with Hendrick, this failed to substantially boost the team's performance, and with a new, larger facility for 2015, the team has begun to do a greater amount of aero and chassis work in-house.
- Aric Almirola (#43) - Almirola entered Sprint Cup in 2007, driving part-time for what was then DEI alongside the semi-retired Mark Martin. Until 2012, he never had had a full-time Cup ride, which came in the form of the #43. 2014 was mostly a slog for Aric, without even the early run of consistency that had surprised many in 2013, but he had one massive bright spot when he won at his hometrack, Daytona,note in a rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 in July, thus also securing his first career Chase berth. Unfortunately, Almirola suffered his first blown engine with RPM in the Chase opener at Chicagoland, and while he finished sixth at New Hampshire to keep his hopes alive, a sub-mediocre run at Dover kept him from getting out of the Challenger round. Despite starting strong (being in 10th at one point of the championship), Almirola just missed the Chase after a series of mediocre performances during the later stages of the regular season.
- Brian Scott (#44)(R) - Scott's raced since 2007 in Trucks and Xfinity, mostly as a development driver for either Joe Gibbs Racingnote or Richard Childress Racing. Scott's record in both series has been solid but mostly unremarkable, and he's possibly best known for his hard luck in Xfinity where several close calls with wins were spoiled by Sprint Cup regulars. His lengthy run in these two series has been financed by his father Joe, who owns the Idaho-based resorts Shore Lodge and The Whitetail Club, which have provided sponsorship for both his Truck and Xfinity rides as well as his part-time Cup runs with Childress and Circle Sport in 2013-'15.note Neither of these companies is large enough to provide major sponsorship for Scott across a full Cup season, but his father is also the heir to the Albertsons chain of grocery stores, and when Richard Petty swooped in to pick up Scott as a replacement for Sam Hornish, Jr. in the renumbered 44, Albertsons agreed to sign on as a majority-season sponsor,note while also signing a business agreement with Aric Almirola's main sponsor Smithfield Foods.
Roush Fenway Racing
Once the leading team in the Ford camp, they won back to back Sprint Cups in 2003 and 2004, but the drivers who delivered those championships (Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch) have since left the team, and they generally seem to have slipped in recent years, particularly after the introduction of the Gen-6 car.
- Trevor Bayne (#6) - Despite having yet to run a full season in Sprint Cup, Bayne is already notable for being the youngest winner of the Daytona 500, after he won the event in 2011 with the Wood Brothers, in just his second series start. He's also raced Xfinity for Roush since moving over from Michael Waltrip Racing's Xfinity program in late 2010, although a flare-up of what turned out to be multiple sclerosis in 2011 and lack of sponsorship in 2012 prevented him from completing a full season with the team until 2013. Even then, his 2013 and 2014 campaigns in the #6 (previously driven by back-to-back Xfinity champ Stenhouse) saw him post solid but somewhat underwhelming numbers. Nonetheless, he has been selected for a full-time Sprint Cup ride with Roush starting in 2015, in a revived #6 Cup car operating on the remains of the recently defunct #99. Bayne struggled massively in 2015, frequently getting involved in accidents throughout the season and running the slowest of any Roush car when he did finish.
- Greg Biffle (#16) - A former Truck Series and Xfinity champion, Biffle is seeking to become the first driver to win championships in all three top series. The closest he's come is a tie for second place with Carl Edwards behind Tony Stewart in 2005, but he remains a recurring fixture in the top ten in points. The last two seasons been a bumpy ride for Biffle, as he's riding a winless streak dating back to Michigan in June 2013, Ford's 1000th win on NASCAR's national level, and has struggled badly with speed and consistency many weeks. Things got a little brighter toward the end of the 2014regular season, when he put together five straight top tens from Pocono to Atlanta, and ultimately snagged the last of three Chase berths left available to winless drivers in 2014. But he flamed back out right after and posted three mediocre runs in the Challenger round, from which he failed to advance. With Roush's ever-escalating struggles in 2015, Biffle was unable to find enough traction to ever seriously contend for the Chase.
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (#17) - He won back-to-back Xfinity Series championships in 2011 and 2012, accomplishing this feat against Cup veterans like Elliott Sadler and other promising up and comers like Austin Dillon. After winning six races in his 2012 Xfinity campaign, Roush decided to move him to the Cup Series full-time, taking the seat vacated by Matt Kenseth as Kenseth moved to Joe Gibbs Racing, bumping Joey Logano to the #22 at Penske Racing. While Stenhouse's first season was considered a disappointment by those expecting a Johnson or Stewart-esque instant breakout, he easily won Rookie of the Year. But disappointment has become a recurring theme of Stenhouse's still young Cup career, as he endured a major slump in his sophomore season, only scoring a handful of top tens and falling solidly into the mid-20s in points, which kept him from ever being a serious Chase contender. Things got even worse in the Chase, as he backslid from his late 2013 performance in these races, most spectacularly at Talladega, the site of his first career top-five finish the year before - in 2014 it became the site of his first career DNQ after a bizarre qualifying session put Stenhouse eighth in line for seven provisional spots.note . Stenhouse fell further still in 2015, lagging far behind girlfiend Danica Parick (herself still disappointing severely) on the track, and his only real highlight was the mullet he sported for about the first third of the season.
Longtime Indy Car team owner Roger Penske entered NASCAR in the 1990s with 1989 Cup champion Rusty Wallace, who came in second several times under Penske (most famously in 1993), and in the 2000s fielded drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman. However, Penske could never pull off a championship until Brad Keselowski won in 2012. After this season, the team switched from Dodge (which they had run since 2003) back to Ford (which they had run from 1994-2002), and after some initial struggles with the Gen-6 in 2013, had one of their greatest seasons ever in 2014, supplanting Roush Fenway as the leading team in the Ford camp in the process.note
- Brad Keselowski (#2) - Since rising to prominence, Keselowski has become mainly known for two things - an aggressive, take-no-prisoners driving style that has won him numerous races and nearly as many rivals, and his use of social media, particularly Twitter, which has helped propel NASCARís visibility with younger fansnote but has also earned him occasional scorn when heís seen using his smartphone during post-race interviews and sponsor or fan events. Both of these tendencies are likely rooted in his early years driving for his familyís frequently underfunded team in Trucks and Xfinity, which was followed by a year-and-a-half period as a journeyman driver after his family was forced to temporarily suspend operations. Things started to look up in late 2007 when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hired Keselowski to drive an Xfinity Series entry for JR Motorsports, and he won a pair of Xfinity races in 2008, in fields stacked with Sprint Cup regulars. A limited Cup schedule under Hendrick and Phoenix Racing in 2009 got him further attention, especially after his sensational (and somewhat controversial) win at Talladega that April. He was poached near the end of the season by Roger Penske, and after some major growing pains in 2010 and early 2011, eventually found his groove in the second half of the season, charging into a Wildcard Chase berth and a fifth in final points. 2012 was better still, with five wins and a top ten Chase berth, and ended with Brad hoisting the Sprint Cup at Homestead. Unfortunately, Brad's defense of this title was unsuccessful, as he missed the Chase altogether in 2013, the second instance of this since the Chase began.note
He re-established himself at the front in 2014, winning a series leading six races, including the first race of the Chase at Chicagoland to become the first-ever transfer to the Contender round and a hail-mary win at Talladega to transfer to the Eliminator round. However, he couldn't get to the Championship round after a crash at Martinsville, and at any rate became far more infamous for antagonizing his fellow Chasers both on- and off-track, leading to brawls with Matt Kenseth(!) at Charlotte and Jeff Gordon at Texas, and general hatred from the fans. In 2015, he could only muster one win, at Auto Club, but ran in the top ten throughout the year and once again made it to the Eliminator round before triggering another wreck at Martinsville, which also involved Matt Kenseth,note and after dominating Texas only to get passed by Jimmie Johnson on the final green flag run, he fell short of the Championship round again.
- Joey Logano (#22) - Originally Tony Stewart's replacement at Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano became the youngest winner in Sprint Cup history at the age of 19 in a rain-shortened race at New Hampshire, but struggled to make it into the upper echelon of drivers while at Gibbs (the only other race Logano won at Gibbs was a Pocono race in June 2012). He formed a friendship with Keselowski across the course of the last several years, and Brad personally vouched for him in getting Penske to sign him to the 22 over several other drivers (including Penske's own Xfinity driver, Sam Hornish Jr.) when Matt Kenseth replaced Logano in the #20. This effort paid off when Logano won at Michigan in August 2013, en route to his first Chase berth. This berth ended in an 8th place points run. Since the beginning of 2014, Logano's been on a tear, as his eleven wins in the last two season are tops in the series during that span, and in both years has equaled his prior career total in the regular season alone. However, while Logano's always started the reformatted Chase strong, he's had issues in the later rounds in both years - in 2014, he transferred to the Eliminator round by winning in the Challenger (at New Hampshire, his first career Chase win) and Contender (at Kansas) rounds, and made the first Championship round on points, only to finish 16th at Homestead and fourth in the standings after two poor pit stops late in the race. He started off 2015 on the other end of the spectrum by winning the Daytona 500, the second win in the Great American Race for Team Penske, and after making the Contender round on points, Logano immediately transferred to the Eliminator round by winning Charlotte, and then blocked Hail-Mary transfers from both Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by winning Kansas and Talladega to sweep the round. However, his aggressive driving at Kansas that left Kenseth spun around after their duel eventually proved his undoing - after accusing Logano of brake-checking him during a pit stop at Talladega, and then after wrecking off Keselowski's bumper as he and Logano were trying to fall in line after a late restart at Martinsville, Kenseth bulldozed a dominant Logano out of the lead with less than 50 laps left, thus taking Joey from his fourth win in a row to a long-shot for the Championship round. His odds only got worse at Texas after being the first of many victims of tire failures, with the resulting damage forcing a long stop in the garage that left a win at Phoenix as his only route into the Championship. At Phoenix, Logano could only muster third, which stopped his post-season one round short of the previous year.
Wood Brothers Racing
Wood Brothers, alongside Petty, is one of the only teams to have been around in some form or another since the '50s. In the 1970s, runing a part-time schedule with David Pearson, the team won a staggering 46 races, including the "Triple Crown" (Daytona, Charlotte, Darlington) in 1976, and were hailed as the top team in NASCAR. After Pearson left in 1979, the next three decades would be one long slide into obscurity, with a succession of mediocre drivers or good drivers who had bad luck or simply never stayed long. But in 2011, all that changed, when the 20-year-old Trevor Bayne drove the #21 to victory in the Daytona 500. After a deeply troubled 2008 run, the team had committed to driving a part-time schedule, which seems to have worked for them, but indicated they would return to full-time if sponsorship could be found, something that will happen in 2016.
- Ryan Blaney (#21)(R) - The son of career backmarker Dave Blaney, Ryan appears to have a much brighter career ahead of him based on his results to date in the Truck Series, where he replaced Parker Kligerman at Brad Keselowski Racing in mid-2012. Blaney scored his first career win three races after his debut at Iowa Speedway, and his two full time runs in that series produced two more wins, Rookie of the Year in 2013, and a runner-up points finish to the Trucks' first back-to-back champion Matt Crafton in 2014. Blaney has also run a partial schedule in Penske's Xfinity #22 since 2012, winning at Kentucky in September 2013 and Bristol in August 2014. While these results weren't enough to secure the necessary funding for a full Xfinity run in 2015,note Blaney did catch the attention of the Wood Brothers, who took him on as part of an agreement that also saw them switch from Roush- to Penske-built bodies and chassis and increase their schedule from 12 to 18 races with the help of various Penske sponsors.note This new partnership produced somewhat mixed results in its first season, as Blaney lost four engines in 2015 and suffered three DNQs due to qualifying rainouts.note On the upside, Blaney found the team's first top-five since Bayne's 500 win at Talladega in May, and posted several top twenties at intermediate tracks, peaking with a 7th at Kansas in the fall, which has lifted the #21 ahead of several full-time teams in the owner's points. With the Woods moving to full-time in 2016, so will Blaney.
BK Racing was formed in the 2011-2012 offseason out of the remnants of the Red Bull team after that team folded. The team hasn't found much success since then, having frequent equipment issues and generally running in the back quarter of the field. Like Front Row Motorsports, BK Racing is frequently "self-sponsored" by owner Ron Devine, who runs a large franchise of Burger King restaurants.
- David Ragan (#23)note - A former Roush Fenway driver, originally Mark Martin's replacement in the #6. While he recorded a win in the 2011 Coke Zero 400, he was released from the team after that season when sponsorship for the #6 could not be found. He then moved to the second-tier Front Row Motorsports, where he was fairly quiet, aside from giving the team their first Sprint Cup win in the spring 2013 Talladega race, a 1-2 finish with Ragan and David Gilliland. In 2015, he spent the first quarter of the season with Joe Gibbs Racing in the #18 as a replacement for Kyle Busch, then took over the #55 at Michael Waltrip Racing in place of Brian Vickers. In 2016, he was picked up by BK Racing.
- Matt DiBenedetto (#83) - His Xfinity career began with Joe Gibbs Racing on a limited schedule in 2010. After they canceled his development contract, he retreated to K&N East for 2011 before returning to Xfinity competition in 2012, usually as a start-and-park for either Vision Racing or The Motorsports Group. TMG shifted him to the team's full-distance car in mid-2014 (after Josh Wise left the team to focus more fully on his Cup ride with Parsons) and he finally got his shot at a Cup ride when BK came calling in early 2015. After posting DNQs at his first two attempts (Atlanta and Las Vegas, after Johnny Sauter ran Daytona), DiBenedetto proceeded to quietly outperform both of his 2015 teammates,note becoming the first driver in BK Racing history to improve his team's performance year-to-year,note although he didn't over-achieve to the same degree as Cole Whitt in 2014 and was obviously still buried in the points. Nonetheless, it was enough to secure DiBenedetto's return to the team for 2016.
Furniture Row Racing
This team is unique in that they are one of the few teams not to be located in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. They instead operate out of Denver, Colorado. From 2010 to 2015, they were a satellite team using equipment from Richard Childress Racing. For a while, their high point was a victory in the 2011 Southern 500 with Regan Smith, but they hit their stride in 2013 when Kurt Busch put them into the Chase. In 2016, citing lack of manufacturer support from Chevrolet, Furniture Row switched to Toyota and became a full satellite of Joe Gibbs Racing.
- Martin Truex, Jr. (#78) - A two-time Xfinity series champion (2004 and 2005), Truex is a former DEI driver. He was the last DEI driver to win a race (Dover, June 2007) and qualify for the Chase before the team merged with Ganassi. After Chip Ganassi cut back to two cars, Truex was released and quickly snatched up by Michael Waltrip Racing, with NAPA Auto Parts as a sponsor. After several mediocre seasons in the #56, Truex finally found his second Chase berth in 2012, and found his second career victory in June 2013 at Sonoma, but could not find a top ten points finish (both previous Chase berths ended with 11th place postseason runs). In spite of the Sonoma win, Truex ended up departing the organization at the end of 2013 due to the loss of NAPA Auto Parts as a sponsor in the fallout from the Richmond controversy (read Scandalgate on main page). When Michael Waltrip Racing announced that they would cut the #56 to a part-time entry, Truex became a free agent. On November 1st, during the fall Texas weekend, it was announced that Truex had signed a multi-year contract to drive for Furniture Row Racing, a ride that had been freed up for 2014 by Kurt Busch's signing with Stewart-Haas Racing. Not only that, FRR hired Truex's entire MWR pit crew (save for crew chief Chad Johnston, who became crew chief for Tony Stewart in 2015 and Kyle Larson in 2016). The team and Truex unfortunately struggled to a 24th place standing in their first season together, but after installing a new crew chief (Cole Pearn, replacing Todd Berrier) Truex recorded the best season of his career in 2015, with fourteen top tens in the first fifteen racesnote and his third career win, at Pocono. Truex was then able to advance all the way to the Championship round of the Chase before being forced to settle for 12th at Homestead and fourth in the standings. He then missed out on history in 2016, falling 0.010 seconds short of delivering Toyota its first Daytona 500 win in Furniture Row's first race under the manufacturer.
Joe Gibbs Racing
Founded by former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs in 1992, this team originally drove Pontiacs (and then Chevrolet Monte Carlos after Pontiac left NASCAR in 2003). Initially finding success with a number of drivers that included Dale Jarrett (who gave them their first win in the 1993 Daytona 500), Bobby Labonte (who won Gibbs their first championship in 2000), and Tony Stewart (who won the 2002 and 2005 championships), the team switched to driving Toyota Camrys in 2008. For the next several years this produced mixed results, as JGR has won a high number of races but tended to suffer either from bad consistency or fizzling out in the Chase, and persistently fell short of delivering Toyota the Sprint Cup - until 2015, when they put together an amazing season that ended with 14 wins and Kyle Busch hoisting the Cup at Homestead.
- Denny Hamlin (#11) - Hamlin set a modern-era record for points finish by a rookie with wins at both Pocono races and the Budweiser shootout, an appearancein the Chase, and a third place finish in the 2006 points, note providing a near-instantaneous turn-around for a third Gibbs car that was mid-pack at best under a multitude of drivers the year before. He's had his share of issues with consistency, but made the Chase from 2006-12, and came close to winning a title several times, most notably in 2010, where he was leading the points going into Homestead, but lost the title to Jimmie Johnson. 2013 saw his first missed Chase after a back injury at Auto Club benched him for four full races, with Hamlin's performance falling off dramatically for several months after his return, only recovering in October and November when he went on a string of top tens that culminated with him winning in the finale at Homestead. 2014 continued the bounceback — he won both the Unlimited and his Duel during Speedweeks, and finished second in the Daytona 500. He then won his first career points paying restrictor plate race in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega that May, and in the Chase and he ultimately found his way to the inaugural Championship round. Hamlin, like Ryan Newman, found himself leading Homestead in the late stretches, but ultimately slipped to seventh on the track and third among the titlists after staying out on a late caution that was followed by two more cautions. Hamlin continued to be strong in 2015, with a win at the spring Martinsville race being his highlight of the regular season. Hamlin would then quash doubts about his viability compared to his teammates by winning the Chase opener at Chicagoland to secure an automatic transfer to the Contender round. However, top fives in the first two races of the Contender round went for naught after an inexplicable failure of his rooftop escape hatch at Talladega, which cost him several laps of repairs and, after the controversial race-ending wreck, which he was a part of as well, his shot at the title. While he had to watch teammate Kyle Busch make history at season's end with Toyota's first Cup trophy, he got to make his own at the start of 2016, delivering Toyota its first Daytona 500 in the closest finish in the race's history.
- Kyle Busch (#18) - Kyle is hated by many fans for his reckless driving and recurring bouts of Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome, which made him the black sheep of the Hendrick stable when he drove for them from 2005-'07. He also had a noticeable rivalry with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. from 2007 to 2008 with one wrecking the other on at least three occasions.
On the other hand, despite his Ax-Crazy tendencies, Busch's raw talent is indisputable, and since he arrived at Gibbs in 2008, he frequently wins a dozen or more races across the three national series.note 2015 started off on a very sour note, though - after a crash at Talladega kept him out of the 2014 Eliminator round and eventually resulted in a 10th-place points finish, Kyle started off the year by slamming nose-first into a section of Daytona's inside wall with no SAFER barrier during the season-opening Xfinity race, which caused a compound leg fracture that sidelined him until the All-Star Race in May.note NASCAR subsequently granted him a waiver to remain Chase eligible as long as he could both win and make the top 30 in points, and after two wrecks in his first four races back,note Busch racked up four wins in five races (tied with Jimmie Johnson for the most through the first 20 races), including the first Toyota win ever in the Brickyard 400note , and a runner-up at Watkins Glen got him into the top 30 and second on the Chase grid. He sealed up his berth when he clinched a top 30 points finish at Darlington, but dropped to third due to Matt Kenseth's victory at Richmond. Despite not winning in the first three Chase rounds, and despite suffering a blown tire at New Hampshire and a pit road crash at Charlotte, Kyle was able to do well enough in the surrounding races to get to the Eliminator round, where three top ten finishes sealed up an easy transfer to the Championship round, marking the first time in his career that Busch was alive for the title in the final race of the year. And with such a golden opportunity on his hands, Kyle made sure to cash it in, leading his fellow Championship Chasers for the majority of the night; after a late restart he surged to the outright race lead and held off Harvick to win Homestead and the Sprint Cup, allowing him and Kurt to join the Labontes as the second set of brothers to win the Cup. Kyle also became the fourth driver to win both the Cup and the Xfinity title, which he took in 2009. Kyle also won in his returns to both Xfinity (at Michigan in June) and the Trucks (at Pocono in August), ending up with thirteen wins across all three series despite the abbreviated schedule.note
- Carl Edwards (#19) - Originally meant to take the #6 from Mark Martin after he retired, Edwards was quickly brought into the 99 after Jeff Burton was released in mid-2004. He was also quick in making a name for himself, scoring his first career victory in a photo finish at Atlanta in spring 2005, beating none other than Jimmie Johnson to do it. He's quite well-known for his unique victory celebrations, which involve doing a backflip while standing in the car window. He's had three near-misses with the championship, including the first ever tie in points in 2011 (losing to Tony Stewart on a tie-breaker based on race wins), but has had consistency issues throughout his career and is infamous for lengthy winless streaks. 2013 was his career in a season-sized nutshell, as Edwards ran in the top five for the majority of the regular season, only to flatline in the Chase and finish 13th. In 2014, despite being the obvious banner-carrier of the organization with two wins, including his first career road-course win at Sonoma, and a top five points standing after 19 races, months of rumors were confirmed at Indianapolis when Jack Roush announced that Edwards would be leaving the team at year's end. Less than two-and-a-half weeks later, more rumors were confirmed when it was announced that Edwards would follow in the footsteps of former Roush teammate Matt Kenseth, moving to a new fourth car at Joe Gibbs Racing, the #19. Carl did try his best to make his time with Roush ended on the best note possible, running well enough to make first the Contender and then the Eliminator rounds, but finishes of 20th at Martinsville and 15th at Phoenix prevented him from advancing to the Championship round. Carl's first season with JGR didn't start out as many had expected, with several early crashes and a car that seemed just a little short on speed, but he did lock up a Chase birth by playing fuel mileage to victory in the Coke 600, and found the speed he needed as the Gibbs organization began to surge in the wake of Kyle Busch's return, culminating in victory at the Southern 500's return to Labor Day Sunday. Once in the Chase, Carl pulled off an easy transfer on points to the Contender and Eliminator rounds, but despite posting top fifteens in all three Eliminator races, couldn't step up his performance enough compared to the other Chasers and lost out on the final Championship round transfer to Truex by five points.
- Matt Kenseth (#20) - For over a decade, Matt Kenseth was very successful with Roush Fenway Racing, which included delivering the organization both its first Sprint Cup (2003) and its first Daytona 500 victory (2009. He won the race again in 2012). He brought that success with him to Gibbs, winning five races during the 2013 regular season, which positioned him as the top seed going into the Chase by three points over Johnson and teammate Busch, and opened the Chase with back to back victories at Chicagoland and New Hampshire. However, he was eventually overwhelmed by Johnson down the stretch and settled for second in points, although he and others still consider it possibly his best season to date. 2014 didn't get the same notice, as Kenseth failed to return to victory lane, but he did maintained a top five points position throughout the regular season and, with three Chase slots left available for winless drivers, was easily able to make it in. He then transferred into the Contender round after surviving two separate crashes at New Hampshire. Kenseth was able to avoid that degree of trouble despite clashing with Keselowski at Charlotte, and ended up transferring to the Eliminator round as well. However, this was where his luck and momentum finally ran out, after a mediocre run at Texas led to his elimination the next week at Phoenix. Matt picked back up his performance in 2015, nabbing four wins, including three in the last six races of the regular season, to tie Johnson and Busch atop the initial Chase grid. He then joined Hamlin in the Contender round by jumping on Harvick's pit miscue to win at New Hampshire. Unfortunately, the wheels came off at Charlotte, with Kenseth being involved in several wrecks which eventually took him out of the race. The next week at Kansas, he looked to be in contention for the win he now needed to transfer, only to be spun out when a fast-closing Joey Logano got fed up with being blocked late in the race. Talladega ultimately didn't go Kenseth's way either, and he ended up falling short of even his 2014 run in the Chase. He then triggered a controversy with his retaliatory move against Logano at Martinsville, and in the aftermath he wound up with a two-race suspension from NASCAR.note
Famous Past Drivers
- Tim Flock - One of the most successful drivers of NASCAR's formative years, winning the 1952 and 1955 championships. Tim was one of several members of a famous racing family, but none came close to matching his achievements on the track. In 1955, Flock had 18 victories and 19 poles in 45 races, the latter of which still stands as the NASCAR record.
- Lee Petty - Another famous driver, being the first driver to win at least three championships, the inaugural Daytona 500 winner, and is tenth on the all-time wins list with 54. However, he is largely remembered today for being the father of his more famous son, Richard.
- Junior Johnson - As a driver, he has the dubious honor of having the most wins (50) without a championship to go along with them. As an owner, he has 139 wins and six championships, and fielded several other members of this list.
- Ned Jarrett - The "father" half of the sport's second Father-Son championship duo, winning the title in 1961 and '65. He was also a broadcaster for a number of years with both CBS and ESPN. This gave him the opportunity to call quite a number of son Dale Jarrett's race wins, including his first win in 1991, and his first Daytona 500 win in 1993.
- Richard Petty - Perhaps the single most prolific driver in the sport's history, winning a total of 200 races (including 27 in one season, 1967 - for comparison, there are only 36 races on the schedule today) and seven championships (1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979). His #43 "Petty Blue" car has become emblematic of the sport as a whole. He dominated the series throughout the '60s and '70s. He did fizzle out in the 1980s as younger, more competitive drivers racing for better teams began to appear, and by 1990 he was consistently running near the rear of the field. He retired at the end of the 1992 season.
- David Pearson - Won 105 races and three championships (1966, 1968, 1969). These numbers could have been even higher - for a good part of the 1970s, Pearson drove a part-time schedule with the Wood Brothers. Richard Petty famously claimed once that Pearson was the only driver who could beat him anywhere.
- Bobby Allison - He won his only Sprint Cup in 1983 at the age of 45, making him the circuit's oldest champion. He was also rather prolific as a race winner, being tied for fourth all-time with Darrell Waltrip at 84note . His third Daytona 500 win in 1988 makes him the oldest winner of that race as well (age 50), but a near-fatal crash at Pocono later that season forced his retirement from NASCAR.
- Cale Yarborough - Famously tough, he not only raced, but played semi-pro football and was a Golden Gloves boxer as well. He was the first driver to win three consecutive championships (1976, 1977, 1978, all with Junior Johnson's team), a feat that would not be repeated until Jimmie Johnson in the 2000s. His 83 race wins (including four Daytona 500s,note second only to Richard Petty's seven on that list) sit at sixth on the all-time list, although he was in the top five of this list until Jeff Gordon passed him in 2011.
- Ricky Rudd - Nicknamed "The Iron Man of NASCAR", he held the all-time record for consecutive starts at 788, until Jeff Gordon surpassed him near the end of the 2015 season. He also famously raced in the 1984 Daytona 500 with his eyes taped open after a horrific crash in the Busch Clash race a few days previous.
- Dale Earnhardt Sr. - The Intimidator. Earnhardt won championships in 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994, and racked up 76 race wins, currently seventh on the all time list. He was both revered and hated; he was noted for an aggressive driving style, giving them the aforementioned title. He became a household name as the sport exploded in popularity during The '80s and The '90s. Tragically, he died in a crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
- Darrell Waltrip - Waltrip was the champion in 1981, 1982, and 1985 while driving for Junior Johnson, and for years was the winningest driver in the modern era with 84 (currently tied for fourth on the all time list), until being caught and passed by Jeff Gordon in 2011. Initially, he was famously rivals with Dale Earnhardt, and was widely disliked for his aggressive, brash driving style, and attitude, but slowly became better liked as time went on, even winning Most Popular Driver in 1989 and 1990 note He retired in 2000 and since then has worked as a broadcaster for NASCAR on FOX.
- Bill Elliott - "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" has only one championship (1988) but is widely remembered, possibly due to his popularity (he won the Most Popular Driver award sixteen times, including ten in a row, before Dale Jr. entered the series) In the 1980s, he drove for Harry Melling, winning eleven races in 1985, and in 1987 posted the fastest ever qualifying lap in Cup history at Talladega - something that thanks to restrictor plates will probably never be matched. He moved to Junior Johnson's team, and lost the 1992 championship to Alan Kulwicki by a mere ten points (the smallest margin in the pre-Chase era). In the late '90s he was one of the many drivers who decided to follow Kulwicki and race for his own team, which resulted in some good runs but a long winless streak. He briefly came back driving for Evernham in the early '00s, but elected to drive part-time from 2004 onwards. He officially retired in early 2013, stating a desire to focus on his son Chase, who now has his own entry on this page.
- Rusty Wallace - 1989 Champion. When he first came into NASCAR in The '80s, he was noted for his aggressive, brash, driving style, much like a younger Darrell Waltrip, and therefore not very well-liked. But opinion of him did improve over time, and he is generally respected today. Throughout The '90s he became instantly recognizable as the driver of Penske's #2 Miller Lite Ford Taurus. He was also a close friend and major rival of Dale Earnhardt on the track, with the two having a heated battle for the championship in the tragedy-marred 1993 season, to which Rusty finished second. His 55 race wins rank ninth on the all-time list. Is now retired, and works as a broadcaster for ESPN.
- Alan Kulwicki - Kulwicki is most remembered for winning the 1992 championship with a one-car race team that he owned and managed himself, outpacing drivers racing for multi-car, well-funded powerhouses such as Yates and Junior Johnson. His tragically short career ended when he died in a plane crash midway through the 1993 season. He popularized the "Polish victory lap," which involves driving a single lap around the track the wrong way.
- Dale Jarrett - Ned Jarrett's son, he first broke into Sprint Cup in the late '80s. Jarrett was the driver who originally put Joe Gibbs Racing on the map, giving them their first win in the 1993 Daytona 500. A few years later, he moved to Yates and delivered them a Sprint Cup title in 1999, while also securing two more Daytona 500 wins (1996, 2000). Jarrett is also the driver who started the tradition of "kissing the bricks" at Indianapolis, after his first of two Brickyard 400 wins, in 1996. In 2007, he moved to Michael Waltrip Racing to try to help them get off the ground, but like his teammates he struggled all through the year, and decided to retire after the first five races of 2008. Afterward, Dale, much like Ned, moved to the broadcast booth with ESPN, and these days can be heard as part of NBCSN's Xfinity broadcast team.
- Mark Martin - Martin first rose to prominence with Roush in 1989, driving their then-flagship #6 until 2006. During this time, he finished runner-up in the points four times, but could never quite get the championship. note After a couple part-time seasons, he returned full time with Hendrick Motorsports and added another runner-up points finish to his resume. After 2011, he left Hendrick and joined MWR, and was nearly as important as Clint Bowyer in the team's ascendancy, delivering very solid results on a limited schedule for the team. In August 2013, it was announced that Martin would leave MWR early to serve as a sub-in for the injured Tony Stewart at SHR. At the end of the year, he decided to step back from Sprint Cup, although, fittingly enough, he refused to call it "retirement".
- Terry Labonte - Terry won the 1984 championship, then seemed to fade away for a while, racing for mid-pack teams. But he joined Hendrick in the mid-'90s, at about the time they were developing into a true powerhouse, and won a second championship in 1996. His performance dropped off again after the Turn of the Millennium, though, and he stepped back from full-time driving after 2004. After a decade of driving part-time, Terry announced that he would hang up his helmet for good after 2014.
- Jeff Burton - A veteran who has been around the sport since the mid-1990s, Jeff has had one of the biggest roller-coaster careers of anyone. Driving for Roush in the late '90s and early '00s, Burton was a championship contender and won races on a regular basis. However, he imploded over the next few years, leading to his departure from Roush and his joining RCR in 2004. He came back for a while, notably in 2007 and 2008, but he has been going downhill again since around 2010, and his tenure with RCR ended after the 2013 season. Throughout all his career ups-and-downs, though, Burton was consistently known for being calm, friendly and well-spoken, and he eventually became the defacto spokesman of the garage, which led to the nickname "The Mayor" among fans and drivers alike. This may be why, after driving a one-year part-time schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2014, he was picked up by NBC to become part of their broadcast booth starting in 2015.
- Jeff Gordon - Gordon came into the series in the last race of the 1992 season (which was also the final race for NASCAR legend Richard Petty), then went on to become the rival to Dale Earnhardt throughout the rest of the 1990s. Gordon won the championship in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001, and has the most race wins in the modern era at 93, which is third on the all-time list. Among those wins are three Daytona 500s, note making him the most recent of five such drivers in NASCAR history. Gordon, a native Californian, helped spread the series' popularity outside of its traditional Southern base, and his quick success on the circuit helped ignite the "Young Gun" trend.
However, in later years he was overshadowed by his teammate Jimmie Johnson, although he showed repeatedly he could still win races. He even found a second wind in the final two seasons of his career, winning four races (the biggest by far being his fifth Brickyard 400, leaving him as the record holder for wins on the oval at Indianapolis, and tied with Formula One legend Michael Schumacher for the overall record at the facility) and leading the points for most of the regular season in 2014 before being bounced from the reformatted Chase after the Eliminator round. While his final run in 2015 saw him struggling noticeably with speed in the regular season, he was able to make the Chase on points and from there managed to survive the first two rounds on points again before scoring his last win at Martinsville to make the Championship round. He could only muster sixth on the track at his last race at Homestead, resulting in a third place run in his last shot at the title, which was still his best since 2009. During 2015, Gordon broke Ricky Rudd's record for consecutive starts in the Cup Series with his 789th at New Hampshire, and ended his career with 797, making him the only driver in Cup history to go from his first start to his last without missing or skipping a race. After stepping out of the car, Gordon made the jump to the broadcast booth, joining the NASCAR on Fox line-up.
- Mike Joy - The lead broadcaster of the FOX team, Joy has been in the sport longer than many of the drivers have. Notably, he's broadcasted 35 Daytona 500s. He first worked in radio with Motor Racing Network. He also commentated for ESPN in the early 1980s. From 1984 to 2000, he worked for CBS, first as a pit road reporter, and then from 1998 to 2000 in the broadcast booth. In 2001, he became the lead for NASCAR on FOX.
- Darrell Waltrip - See his entry in Famous Past Drivers for details.
- Larry McReynolds - McReynolds is a former crew chief. He first served as a crew chief to Ricky Rudd, and won two Daytona 500s as a crew chief - 1992 with Davey Allison, and 1998 with Dale Earnhardt. He retired from the pit box in 2000 to enter the NASCAR on FOX booth. He worked in the booth until 2015. For 2016, McReynolds moved from the booth to the Hollywood Hotel while Jeff Gordon took Larry's place in the booth.
- Jeff Gordon - Gordon made his broadcasting debut in 2015 as a guest analyst for Fox's Xfinity coverage at Talladega. He announced later in May 2015 that after his retirement from racing, he would take up a spot in NASCAR on FOX broadcasting booth, displacing Larry McReynolds.
NASCAR on NBC
- Rick Allen - Allen formerly worked for FOX as the lead announcer in the Camping World Truck Series.
- Steve Letarte - Letarte from Cornish, Maine is the former crew chief in the NBC crew. As an active member of a NASCAR team, he worked at Hendrick Motorsports from 1995 to 2014. He worked as a member of Jeff Gordon's team from 1997 to 2010, first as a tire specialist, then a mechanic and a car chief. In 2005, he was promoted to crew chief with ten races to go in the season. Letarte directed the pit calls for Gordon until the end of 2010. In a 2011 crew chief swap-around that saw all of the Hendrick crew chiefs except Chad Knausnote get reassigned to another Hendrick driver, Letarte was reassigned to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. where he displaced Lance McGrew, who in turn was reassigned to Mark Martin, displacing Alan Gustafson, who replaced Letarte as Gordon's crew chief. Despite some early struggles, Letarte managed to turn around Earnhardt, Jr.'s performance on the racetrack, leading him to four straight Chase appearances. Before the start of the 2014 season, Letarte announced his decision to join the NBC broadcast team after he caught the eye of NBCSN executive producer Sam Flood. He nonetheless went out with a bang, racking up four wins, including the Daytona 500.
- Jeff Burton - See his entry in Famous Past Drivers for details.