Characters: NASCAR

A list of current and famous former drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Drivers are organized by team, teams by manufacturer.

(R) - Rookie of the Year candidate

(i) - Ineligible for Sprint Cup Series points

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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 has 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 seems to be caught on the "sophomore season curse"note , in which he is now in 19th place with 8 top 10s, & missing one race (spring Martinsville race) due to fainting.

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 as a satellite team that gets its 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.

  • 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 is still looking for his first top ten points finish (both Chase berths ended with 11th place postseason runs). In spite of the win at Sonoma under the MWR banner, 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 announcing prior to the Chase that he had signed at Stewart-Haas Racing. Not only that, FRR hired Truex's entire MWR pit crew (save for crew chief Chad Johnston, who is now Tony Stewart's crew chief). However, the team struggled for speed and performance throughout 2014, with both car and driver firmly stuck back in the middle of the pack. This was subsequently revealed to be an issue of personnel, though, as the replacement of crew chief Todd Berrier with Cole Pearn resulted in a greatly recharged Truex, who recorded seven top tens in as many races at the start of 2015note  and after that streak was broken at Bristol (where he finished 29th after multiple tire issues), he started another seven-race streak at Richmond, which made him the first driver since Richard Petty in 1969 to score fourteen top tens in the first fifteen races. The second streak included his third career win, and FRR's second, at Pocono in June. There was a bit of a slump after back to back DNFs for crashes at Sonoma and Daytona, but he picked up the pace again at Indianapolis. Another set of inconsistent run after Indy, however, put him in a doubtful position as a serious Chase contender; although he gained back his early-season pace at Chicagoland.

Germain Racing

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.

Hendrick Motorsports

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 regular season since joining Hendrick, with a difficult summer ultimately bouncing him from the Chase.

  • Jeff Gordon (#24) - 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 92 (and counting), 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 recent years he has been overshadowed by his teammate Jimmie Johnson, although he has shown he can still win races. In fact, until the final stages 2014 had all the making of a full-blooded resurgence - after struggling just to make the Chase in 2012 and 2013,note  Gordon spent most of 2014 in the points lead, winning three regular season races at tracks where he hadn't won in a decade or more - the inaugural night race at Kansas,note  a Brickyard 400 that saw him break one multi-discipline record at Indianapolis and tie another,note  and the August race at Michigan, where he won from the pole for the first time at any track since 2007. His fourth win at Dover made 2014 his best year on win count since '07.note  Things got bumpier from there, as Gordon just barely got to the Eliminator round and then failed to make the Championship round after clashing with Brad Keselowski at Texas, eventually having to settle for sixth in points, the same standing as 2013. Nonetheless, his strong 2014 performance appears to have him poised to go out near the top of his game, as Gordon has announced that the 2015 season will be his last as a full-time driver. His last season, unfortunately, didn't go as well as last year, having slumped quite hard but still made the Chase despite going victory-less so far this year. He did mark one major milestone in his final year, surpassing Ricky Rudd's record for consecutive starts with his 789th at New Hampshire.note 
  • 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 74 wins (and counting) make him the only other active driver besides Gordon in the top ten on the all-time wins list (eighth), and with just twelve 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. 2014, however, ended up being his weakest season to date - although Johnson won three times in four races at the beginning of the summer, 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. Nonetheless, Johnson ended up transferring easily to the Contender round of the Chase. Unfortunately, that's where the "easy" ended, as 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. Johnson, like teammate Dale Jr., would play spoiler in the Eliminator round with his third consecutive win in Texas' fall race, but ultimately failed to make the top ten in points 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. However, 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.
  • 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 - three straight appearances in the Chase, with a 2013 run that saw several periods of multiple consecutive top 10s, including nine straight finishes 15th or better in the Chase, which ended with his first top five points finish at Hendrick. He then kicked off 2014 on the highest note imaginable with his second Daytona 500 victory, and with a sweep at Pocono in June and August,note  2014 became his first multi-win season since 2004. Since the second Pocono win, Junior quieted down a bit, but was still solid enough to get to the Contender round of the Chase. However, a cut tire while leading at Kansas, and a broken shifter at Charlotte, relegated him to bad finishes in both races and putting him, much like Johnson, into desperation mode going to Talladega. Junior did show a bit of his restrictor plate flair by leading in the middle stages of the race, but eventually got shuffled back to midfield and wrecked by Greg Biffle on the first green-white-checkered, which ended his championship run at the Contender round. Despite this, he ended up playing spoiler in the first race of the Eliminator round at Martinsville, scoring his first win at the track on the 10th anniversary of the plane crash that killed several of Rick Hendrick's employees and family members, and kicked off his 2015 season with a top ten finish in the Sprint Unlimited and a win in the Budweiser Duelsnote . After failing to defend his Daytona 500 win (but still finishing a respectable third), he went on to dominate and win the next wo plate races - Talladega, during the week of what would have been his father's 64th birthdaynote , and the Coke Zero 400 in the series' summer Daytona visit.

Hillman-Circle Sport LLC

This team takes a fairly unique approach to operations, as they run under two separate names on the track - Circle Sport and Hillman-Smith Motorsports.

  • Circle Sport began in April 2012 when car salesman Joe Falk and longtime crew chief Mike Hillman, Sr. teamed up to buy the car number, owner points and some outdated chassis off the (mostly) defunct #33 of Richard Childress Racing. They occasionally cede this ride back to Childress so he can run his development drivers, principally grandsons Austin (2012-'13) and Ty Dillon (beginning in 2014), as well as Brian Scott. Falk is listed as the principal on the #33 team, with Hillman in a minority role.
  • Hillman and Falk first paired to field the #40 for Michael Waltrip in the 2012 Daytona 500, only for Waltrip to DNQ. After buying the #33, they abandoned this car until the 2013 Brickyard 400, when Landon Cassill arrived in the #40 as Austin Dillon was using the #33 on this weekend. Originally intended only to run in other races where Childress was using the #33, this changed almost immediately and the #40 started almost all the remaining races in 2013 to build owner points, and is now the duo's primary car for 2014. The ownership formula is reversed on this car, with Hillman as the principal and Falk as the minority. Beginning in 2015, California businessman Gordon Smith is also a minority owner on the #40 (but not the #33), leading Hillman to rename this part of the team.

In terms of performance, Hillman-Circle Sport has generally struggled to make an impression due to the lower-tier quality of their cars, although there have been intermittent sparks of something better, usually courtesy of Cassill.

  • Alex Kennedy (#33, limited schedule)(R) - What NASCAR racing this younger driver has done to date has mostly been as an Xfinity Series road ringer. He debuted in the same capacity in the Cup series in 2013 with Humphrey Smith Racing. Circle Sport first worked with him in 2014, at both road courses as well as the Pocono events and the August Michigan race. In 2015, he ran a partial schedule, being the major driver of the #33 team, and also declared as a ROTY contender.

  • Landon Cassill (#40)(i) - 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). Since joining Circle Sport, Cassill has begun 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 top five ever at Talladega in fall 2014, finishing fourth. In 2015 Coca-Cola 600, he made the headline 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.

HScott Motorsports

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.

  • 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 a DNQ at Atlantanote . 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.

  • Justin Allgaier (#51) - Allgaier raced for several years in the Xfinity circuit, first for Penske Racing and later for Turner-Scott Motorsports. During this time, he racked up several wins and was consistently in or around the top five in points. However, despite persistent rumors of him being a contender for a ride with Penske and later Ganassi in the Cup series, he was never able to attract enough sponsorship to make it happen, and 2013 saw him overshadowed by rookie teammate Kyle Larson. As a result, Allgaier advanced to Cup with HScott in 2014, with only partial sponsorship (21 races) from Brandt Agricultural. Despite delivering the #51 its first sponsorship in ages, Allgaier was unable to improve upon the rotation of drivers who ran the car in 2013, even posting the team's first DNQ since late 2010 at Talladega in October. His luck didn't really changed too much this year, though he scored his first Cup top ten at the spring Bristol race. However, this appears not to have been enough for Allgaier to retain his seat, as HScott, which has steadfastly committed to two cars for 2016, appears to be fielding Clint Bowyer in the #51 for his pre-Stewart-Haas placeholder year.

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'll be moving 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

  • Ron Hornaday, Jr. (#30, released after race 8) - Hornaday has relatively little recognition in the Cup Series, as his only prior attempt at a full season was in 2001 with A.J. Foyt'snote  team, and he hasn't attempted a race since 2003. He's pretty well known among fans of the Truck Series, though, where he won the circuit's second race ever as part of an illustrious career that's seen him rack up four championships and 51 victories, both tops in the series. He's had some struggles since the breakup of Kevin Harvick Incorporated following the 2011 season, not helped by the Truck Series' transformation from a "senior's tour" into another step on NASCAR's development ladder since the late 2000's. His 2014 Truck run was cut short after the beginning of the string of lawsuits that have since completely destroyed Turner-Scott Motorsports, but despite being well into his 50's at this point, Hornaday has decided to take another crack at Sprint Cup. However, the team struggled with Hornaday, only qualifying once out of four tries, at Atlanta, where he finished 42nd.

  • Jeff Green (#30, released before race 18)(i) - Green, a NASCAR veteran of more than 20 years, had modest success in the Cup Series with 14 years of experience and 16 top-tens. The 2000 Busch Series champion, his career has taken a fall after joining TriStar Motorsports in 2010, running as a start-and-park driver with the occasional full race run.note  Green would perform little better than either those results or Hornaday's own numbers with TMG, finishing 40th at Richmond in his only race out of three attempts.

  • Travis Kvapil (#30, 5 races)(i) - See also Team XTREME Racing. When XTREME shut down due to qualifying issues, Kvapil shifted gears to the Truck Series, where he has a full-time ride; in May he briefly fielded a second car for Hillman-Smith Motorsports, but couldn't qualify a race for them either. He also got a one-off return to Go FAS, and is now the third driver recruited by TMG to try to help shake off their own qualifying struggles. However, Kvapil's first three tries resulted in no starts, and the team is now alternating between him and others.
  • Josh Wise (#30, 1 race) - See also Premium Motorsports (was Phil Parsons Racing) and Go FAS Racing. In between races with Go FAS, Wise has taken on some one-off attempts with TMG as well.

Premium Motorsports

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, and Nemecheknote , Michael Waltripnote  and investment banker Nat Hardwicknote  in 2014. For 2015, it appears his primary partners are Tommy Baldwin, who loaned him the owner points for the #36, which will run as #62 while under Robinson's control, and Richard Childress, which will provide him technical support. Robinson also retained the #66, which retained the Toyota bumpers for the Daytona 500 before making the switch to Chevy the next week. However, the 66 only made the 500 itself, and shut down after Phoenix. Robinson also currently owns the #98 team formerly owned by Phil Parsons Racing (see below for more information about the #98 team).

  • Brendan Gaughan (#62, released after race 17)(i) - Gaughan had a fairly distinguished early career in the Trucks, with eight career wins including four in a row at Texas. He was even a major player in the 2003 championship, before being controversially wrecked by the teammate of a title rival in the final race at Homestead. Nonetheless, Penske was impressed enough to pick him up for their #77, then newly acquired from Jasper Motorsports. Gaughan was rather underwhelming in what to date is his only full Cup season, though, and was subsequently replaced by Travis Kvapil. He spent the next several years ping-ponging from team to team in Trucks and Xfinity, mostly hanging on thanks to sponsorship from his father, a Las Vegas hotel and casino magnate, before finally settling down with Richard Childress Racing beginning in 2012.note  2014 was his most successful season since his early Truck years, as he scored his first and second career Xfinity wins (and his first wins in any series since 2003) and found his way to the top ten in points despite consistency issues. While Premium will use other drivers (principally Brian Scott, another Childress driver who gets much of his financing from his family), they have indicated Gaughan will run the majority of the schedule. Unfortunately, Gaughan struggled with his race results early in the season, and with Scott having already gotten the team off on the wrong foot by crashing in his Budweiser Duel and failing to make the Daytona 500, Gaughan began to find his own qualifying struggles at Martinsville, missing eight of eleven races from there through Sonoma (with a crash at Talladega and electrical gremlins at Pocono spoiling two of his three starts), before tying his season-best of 28th (first posted at Atlanta) in the July Daytona race, which turned out to be his last with Premium.
  • Reed Sorenson (#62/#98) - See also RAB Racing. After that team effectively shut down without ever making a Cup race, Sorenson was mostly dormant aside from a fill-in race for Front Row at Richmond. His recruitment by Premium brings his season full circle by effectively returning him to the car he was running in 2014. However, he suffered similar qualifying problems to those of Gaughan, only making one of his first three racesnote , and began to ride-swap with Timmy Hill (see below) at Pocono.

  • Mike Wallace (#66, 3 races) - The younger brother of 1989 Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace and the older brother of Kenny Wallace, Mike is best known for his achievements in the lower series, particularly the Trucks, where he won their inaugural Daytona race in 2000. He struggled to gain full-time Cup rides and was more often used as a fill-in or a restrictor plate ace, particularly after 2001.

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 has been 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. In 2015, Dillon has a slightly better season, though it is marred by a scary crash at the Coke Zero 400 where his car torn the catchfence, injuring 5 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. In 2014, the #39 was renumbered as the #4 and was taken over by Kevin Harvick. Newman was then signed by Richard Childress to take over the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet. Ironically, Harvick had transferred to SHR from RCR to displace Newman to RCR. Newman brought his Quicken Loans sponsorship with him, keeping 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. While he endured a winless season in 2014, he was able to perform well enough in the points to secure the second of three available Chase slots for winless drivers at the end of the regular season. 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. Unfortunately, despite playing pit strategy to a late lead at Homestead, 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. Despite this, he still makes the Chase and quietly having a strong performance at Chicagoland, possibly indicating a 2014 repeat.

Stewart-Haas Racing

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 also got off to a fast start at Stewart-Haas in 2014, winning the second race of the year at Phoenix, and again six races later at Darlington to become the first ironclad lock for the Chase. The events in between saw a lot of fast cars fall to parts failures, though, and later in the season his pit crew began to struggle with mistakes, which had some questioning his ability to win a title in 2014. Harvick ultimately silenced such criticism in the Chase, 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  2015 started off really well for Harvick, as he scored two wins and ten runner-ups in the regular season, leaving little doubt about his ability to win another title. However, he ended up finishing second-to-last at Chicagoland after a collision with Johnson, making his title run in a critical condition, and the situation only worsened after a missed call to pit road led to a foiled fuel gambit at New Hampshire. However, Harvick and company brought a field crushing car to Dover, which allowed him to win and salvage a Contender round berth.

  • 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 an eighth place finish out of it. But since then, she's spent a lot of time running middle and back of the pack, rarely a factor in winning. 2015 seems to be a better year overall, given that she adapted quite well with the new rules package. However, she lost her primary sponsor Go Daddy 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.
  • 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. But the decision to replace Smith with Busch may have been a good one: with Busch, FRR was 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 has so far seemed a bit of a poor fit, as his season has 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, he easily made the Chase by earning two victories during the regular season, and this time transferred to the Contender round.
  • Regan Smith (#41)(i) - 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 for 2009, where he scored both his and the team's first win in the 2011 Southern 500. He was slated to race for Phoenix for the last six races in 2012, but spent the first two of those in the Hendrick #88 as a sub-in for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. His performance in those two races secured him a full-time Xfinity ride with JR Motorsports on top of his part-time deal with Phoenix. His 2013 season produced two wins and an early points lead in Xfinity, but mid-summer struggles, particularly on the road courses, eventually relegated him to third. 2014 would start off in auspicious fashion as Smith won the Xfinity opener at Daytona and once again led much of the early season in points. However, while Smith wouldn't suffer the same degree of drop-off as the year before, he (like the rest of the circuit) was ultimately overwhelmed by rookie phenom (and in his case, teammate) Chase Elliott, ultimately settling for second in points. His only Cup start in this season was a one-off sub-in for Tony Stewart while Stewart was on the sidelines after the above-mentioned sprint car incident. 2015 sees him return for his third season with JRM in Xfinity, while also stepping into the #41 on the Cup side during Busch's suspension.
    These days, Regan has had a recurring role as a substitute driver that Cup teams tend to call if a regular driver is out for any reason: there was his time as a sub-in for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 2012, his one-off sub-in for Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen in 2014, his three race sub-in for Kurt Busch for the first three races of 2015, and also in 2015 a one-off sub-in for Kyle Larson at Martinsville.

Team XTREME Racing

Previously known as XXXtreme Motorsport, this team is mainly notable due to owner Johnathan Cohen being one of the few African Americans involved in such a position in the sport, and have struggled just to get to the track every week since forming in late 2012.

  • Travis Kvapil (#44)(i) - The 2003 Camping World Truck Series champion, and the first driver to win a race for Toyota in any of the three national series (Truck Series race at Michigan, July 2004). He came to Sprint Cup in Penske's #77 in 2005, and has been a consistent mid-pack driver since then. He posted BK Racing's first (and to date, only) top-ten race finish in fall 2012 at Talladega, but generally poor performance combined with a domestic assault arrest just before the fall 2013 race at Charlotte led to his termination at the beginning of 2014, and he ended up drifting among multiple teams that year, before settling in with Team XTREME to start 2015.

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 lease out the #36 to Premium Motorsports (see above).

  • Alex Bowman (#7) - Bowman's short Xfinity career mostly consisted of him taking mid- to rear-pack equipment and getting it much closer to the front than it should have been. BK Racing called on him to do that again in his first season in the Sprint Cup Series, but the much higher learning curve, combined with the wider chasm between the top and bottom tiers of Cup equipment, ultimately stymied Bowman, causing him to slip back from predecessor Travis Kvapil's already poor performance. Bowman subsequently left BK in hopes of finding greener pastures with Baldwin. Despite DN Qing at Daytona 500, he slightly improved this year with TBR.


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.

  • Brett Moffitt (#34, 26 races)(R) - See also Michael Waltrip Racing, below. After an impressive top ten finish at Atlanta, Moffitt was picked up for a short run with Front Row while Ragan continues to sub in for Kyle Busch at Gibbs. Said run was slightly shorter than expected after Moffitt was recalled back to MWR to step back into the #55. Due to Ragan, the team's original driver, moving to MWR #55 for the rest of 2015 season, Moffitt will replace Ragan for the rest of the season.
  • Chris Buescher (#34, 6 races)(i) - 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, and is now leading the Xfinity championship. His time taking Ragan's place at Front Row came as result of the team's larger affiliation with the Ford camp.

  • Cole Whitt (#35) - 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 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 this year.

  • David Gilliland (#38) - He first came to the attention of the wider NASCAR community after taking an underfunded, unsponsored Xfinity team to victory lane in 2006. Within a couple months, he was driving the #38 for Yates as a replacement for Elliott Sadler. However, Gilliland wasn't able to find much success, and got cut when Yates scaled back to one car for 2009. He's been with Front Row, usually in the #38, since 2010. He gets Front Row's first ever pole position at the 2014 Coke Zero 400, by setting the fastest time during the only qualifying session of the race. Gilliland slumped a bit this year, right now dropping two place from where he was at this point last year (he was 30th last year when the Chase cut-off is implemented).

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.

  • Mike Bliss (#32, 10 races)(i) - The 2002 Truck Series champion, and a recurring top ten driver in Nationwide. However, his only full Sprint Cup season was in 2005, and he's never really translated his lower-series success to his various Cup rides.

  • Josh Wise (#32, 6 races) - See Premium Motorsports (was Phil Parsons Racing) below. Despite initially signing him only for Indianapolis, Archie St. Hilaire stated that he'd like Wise, who drove for Go Green in the Xfinity series in 2011, to join the team's stable of recurring drivers. And while their first weekend together ended before raceday when Wise was unable to qualify, St. Hilaire began to make good on his word by bringing Wise back for a three-race stretch starting at Michigan, and further one-offs on a race-by-race basis.

  • Bobby Labonte (#32, 4 races) - Bobby won the 2000 championship driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, making him one-half of the only pair of brothers to win the Sprint Cup title (older brother Terry won two championships driving for different teams), as well as one of three drivers to win both the Cup and the Xfinity championship (Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick 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. For 2015, he's effectively replacing Terry as Go FAS Racing's superspeedway driver.

  • Joey Gase (#32, 3 races)(i)
  • Jeffrey Earnhardt (#32, 2 races)(i) - 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.
  • Travis Kvapil (#32, 2 races)(i) - See Team XTREME Racing.
  • Will Kimmel (#32, 1 race)
  • Eddie MacDonald (#32, 1 race)
  • Boris Said (#32, road courses only)
  • Drivers TBA (#32)

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 it is revealed in 2014 that they managed to get a shock alliance with Penskenote , which saw their performance on the track improved, including a team-best finish of 7th place at the 2014 Coke Zero 400. Unfortunately, a garage fire in 2015note  left the team to evacuate to the Penske shop (taking the place where Penske's former LMP program shop is located) until they repaired back their garage.

  • Michael McDowell (#95) - 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 slightly, but only because he was no longer start-and-parking a majority of his schedule - he and Leavine are still not a serious factor most weeks.

Premium Motorsports (was Phil Parsons Racing)

Click here to see PPR logo 

Parsons was initially one of the more controversial teams in NASCAR upon their Cup debut in 2009, not only due to being a start-and-park team, but for using the money from the Cup car to run an Xfinity team that also start-and-parked. However, the Xfinity cars shut down after 2010, and as of 2014 Parsons has finally shifted into running full races despite lacking sponsorship most weeks.

However, on April 29th 2015, several days before the GEICO 500, rumors arose that Phil Parsons was about to sold his team to Premium Motorsports. Jay Robinson would later confirm this on May 4th. Both Wise & the Ford cars that PPR ran this season will be retained by Robinson.
  • Josh Wise (#98, released after race 18) - 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 and The Motorsports Group in Xfinity. After he split from Front Row following the 2013 season, Parsons picked him up for their team. 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 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".
  • Timmy Hill (#98/#62)(i) - Hill initially declared for Rookie of the Year in 2012 with Max Q Motorsports, but aborted his effort after only one start in four attempts. He came back to compete for ROTY for 2013 with FAS Lane Racing, and while he got a lot better about qualifying, his race results left him a third wheel in the rookie battle. In 2014, he was originally picked as Circle Sport's primary driver, but was reduced to a handful of starts after wrecking with Matt Kenseth at Bristol and ended up running several other races as a fill-in at other teams. Among these were two starts for Robinson's 2014 effort, Identity Ventures Racing, one each in the full-distance #66 and the start-and-park #87. Hill started 2015 on the bench before Robinson contracted him again to replace Wendell Chavous in Premium's Truck Series entry, the #94, and then moved to the #98 after Wise's departure, although he began swapping seats with Reed Sorenson at the second Pocono race.

Richard Petty Motorsports

This organization is made up of the remains of three separate former teams - Petty Enterprises, Gillette Evernham Motorsports and Yates Racing, with the car numbers 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.

  • Sam Hornish, Jr. (#9) - Hornish put up numbers that would qualify him for legend status in Indy Car, winning three championships and the 2006 Indy 500. Roger Penske, his car owner during the second half of his career there, decided to bring Hornish into NASCAR in 2008, jumping straight into the Cup Series in a revival of the team's #77, with minimal runs in the lower divisions. This, plus Penske being at their lowest point in NASCAR competition during the late 2000's, caused Hornish to faceplant spectacularly, actually failing to keep the #77 in the top 35 in owner points and thus missing two races late in his rookie season, and he showed only minimal improvement in 2009 and '10 before sponsor Mobil 1 abandoned the team for Stewart-Haas, causing Penske to shut down the #77 for good to focus on the #2 and #22. Hornish ended up taking a part-time schedule on Penske's Xfinity roster in 2011 and immediately gelled much better with those cars, including his first win anywhere in NASCAR at Phoenix that November, causing him to be upgraded to a full-time Xfinity ride in 2012. Later that season, Hornish got a second chance at Cup competition after A.J. Allmendinger's suspension, only to continue the flatline that typified his early Cup career, and in any event he seems to have merely been keeping the seat warm for Joey Logano. Despite finishing second to Austin Dillon in the 2013 Xfinity points, Hornish found himself eliminated from Penske's roster completely after further sponsorship problems led to the shutdown of the team's Xfinity #12. His only involvement in NASCAR in 2014 involved running seven Xfinity races for Joe Gibbs Racing as a stand-in for Kyle Busch at standalones and two of the three plate races, as well as subbing in for Denny Hamlin for the Auto Club Cup race after Hamlin's eye problems. Nonetheless, when Marcos Ambrose announced his exodus from NASCAR, Hornish immediately shot to the top of the list of rumored replacements, and was confirmed to be joining RPM weeks later. Hornish, however, struggled again this year, posting top tens at only the road courses and the first Talladega race.
  • 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.

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)note  - 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 have actually gotten worse in the Chase, as he's backsliding 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 has fallen even further this year. He is far below girlfriend Danica Patrick in terms of performance this season and his only real highlight this year was the mullet he sported for about the first third of the season.

Team Penske

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 

    2014 saw a big resurgence back into the elite, as he crushed the field several times en route to a series-leading four regular season wins, also putting him atop the initial Chase grid. He then became the first transfer to the Contender round after winning the Chase opener at Chicagoland. But, like Dale Jr., Brad shocked everyone by having a tire come unwound at Kansas, which put him hard into the wall. He then let simmering rivalries with Gibbs drivers Kenseth and Hamlin get the best of him at Charlotte and wound up mid-pack, which left him in desperation mode at Talladega. Like Johnson and Junior, Keselowski showed off the plate flair that got him to where he is at the track.note  Unlike them, he timed it perfectly, taking the lead on the backstretch of the last lap to win his sixth race of the season and salvage a transfer to the Eliminator round. However, he got started off on the wrong foot with a wreck at Martinsville, and the only thing he gained in either of the next two races was rivalries with Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick following the Texas race, being left by the wayside for the championship, although he would do well enough at Homestead to secure his third top five points finish in four years. Kes continues his strong form this year, earning lots of top 10s throughout the season.
  • 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. Ultimately, he went on a tear, managing to lead laps in every one of the first nine races of 2014, even winning two of them (Texas and Richmond) in photo finishes. He then became one of five drivers with at least three wins at the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol, thus equaling his win total prior to 2014 in a single season. Joey then joined Brad in the Contender round with his first career Chase victory, also at New Hampshire. Upon the start of the Contender round, Joey immediately transferred to the Eliminator round by winning Kansas. Things wouldn't go quite as smoothly in the Eliminator round, and Joey had to settle for a transfer to the Championship round on points. Joey unfortunately suffered two costly pit road errors in the late stages at Homestead that led to a 16th place finish, forcing him to take fourth place in the final standings. Logano would start out 2015 on the other end of the spectrum, though, by snagging the Daytona 500, the second such win for a Penske car. Logano continues to be consistent this year, as of now he is second in the standings just below Harvick.

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, running 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. The team has committed to driving a part-time schedule, which appears to be working for them, but have indicated they would return to full-time if sponsorship could be found.
  • Ryan Blaney (#21)(i) - 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 have 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 have taken him on as part of an agreement that also sees 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 


BK Racing

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 lagging behind other Toyota powerhouses like Gibbs and Waltrip. Like Front Row Motorsports, BK Racing is frequently "self-sponsored" by owner Ron Devine, who runs a large franchise of Burger King restaurants.

  • J.J. Yeley (#23\#26)(i) - Yeley is a back-of-the-pack guy. He started out in the #18 at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2006 and 2007, but his lack of success saw him replaced by Kyle Busch, and after a brief tenure at Gibbs satellite Hall of Fame Racing, he began drifting around among bottom-tier organizations.

  • Jeb Burton (#26\#23)(R) - The son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, and the nephew of the incredibly popular Jeff Burton, most of Jeb's prior experience in NASCAR has come down in the Trucks, where he first entered with Mike Hillman's now-dormant Truck squad on a partial schedule in 2012. After posting solid numbers, he was scooped up by Turner-Scott Motorsports in 2013 and won the June Texas race on his way to fifth in the overall points, and second to Ryan Blaney for Rookie of the Year. However, his sponsor Arrowhead Cigarettes defaulted on their payments in January 2014, which got TSM's #4 team shut down and forced Burton to take a race-by-race ride with ThorSport Racing's #13. Said ride was eventually upgraded to the full season after Estes Express Lines signed on to the team, but Burton ultimately slipped to eighth in points and Estes decided not to renew with the team, which once again sent Burton scrambling for a ride. Despite having little experience beyond the Trucks (two Xfinity starts, and no Cup experience at all), BK Racing ultimately decided to gamble on Burton, even signing him to the team's first multi-year contract.note  Unfortunately for BK, this gamble began to backfire immediately, with Burton triggering a wreck in his Budweiser Duel and thus failing to qualify for the Daytona 500. By the time BK announced that Burton would swap seats with Yeley beginning at Darlington, he had recorded seven total DNQs, equal to the combined total of every other driver in team history, including pretty much every other important race on the schedulenote . When he has qualified, he has often fallen victim to crashes or parts failures, and struggled to find speed even compared to his teammates, tanking the #26 from the top of BK's pile to the very bottom of the field.note 
  • Matt DiBenedetto (#83)(R) - 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 the veteran presence Yeley and more hyped-up fellow rookie Burton, becoming the first driver in BK Racing history to improve his team's performance year-to-year,note  although he hasn't over-achieved to the same degree as Cole Whitt in 2014 and is obviously still buried in the points.

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. YMMV on how well this has worked - JGR has won a high number of races but tends to suffer either from bad consistency or fizzling out in the Chase, and hasn't yet delivered Toyota a championship in the Sprint Cup.

  • 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 Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Mark Martin (at Martinsville) and Brian Vickers (at Texas, Kansas and Richmond and a mid-race driver swap at Talladega with Hamlin starting and Vickers taking the wheel at the first caution) filling in for him. Hamlin initially made a very dynamic return, finishing runner-up to Kenseth at Darlington and posting another top five at the Coke 600. After this though, Hamlin's performance fell off dramatically for several months, 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. He got nailed later in the season with a major penalty after a parts violation was found at Indianapolis, but this wasn't enough to keep him out of the Chase, and he ultimately found his way to the Contender round despite suffering both a broken fuel probe and terminal crash damage at New Hampshire. He was able to avoid this degree of trouble once there and made it to the Eliminator round. He once again posted solid numbers in the Eliminator round to transfer to the 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 this year, 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.
  • 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. Which made 2012 a notable off year for him, as his only win was the spring Sprint Cup race at Richmond in May. He wasn't in the Chase, but he recorded seven top tens and led the most laps at at least three of the Chase races, and won several Chase pole positions. He bounced back big in 2013, eventually tying his best Xfinity season with thirteen wins, snagging five wins and the owner's title in Trucks,note  and got four Cup wins and a best ever Chase finish of fourth. 2014 saw him improve his Truck numbers, with five wins in his first five starts and seven overall, but he fell back to seven Xfinity wins and only won once in Cup, a defense of his 2013 Auto Club win. After a summer of misery, his performance picked up significantly in the Chase, enough for him to make it into the Contender round, even managing to come back from major crash damage for a top ten finish at New Hampshire. In the Contender round, Kyle managed a very timely first career top five at Kansas and another one at Charlotte. Unfortunately, these weren't enough to get Kyle to the Eliminator round after he was swept up in a Big One at Talladega, ultimately finishing 40th, and from there drifted to a tenth place points finish. Things went From Bad to Worse at the beginning of 2015, when Busch slammed 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. Kyle had a close call with elimination after a blown tire at New Hampshire, but ultimately transferred to the Contender round once again. Kyle also won in his returns to both Xfinity (at Michigan in June) and the Trucks (at Pocono), and nabbed a weekend sweep at Indianapolis.
    • David Ragan (#18, injury sub) - See full entry above. Front Row agreed to lease Ragan out to JGR for an indefinite period to substitute for Busch as he recovers from his leg fracture. Ragan later was transferred to Michael Waltrip Racing after the first ten races of the season.
  • 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 round.
  • 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.

Michael Waltrip Racing

Michael Waltrip started his own team on a part-time basis in 2002, initially running DEI-built Chevrolets for other drivers while Waltrip himself was still driving for DEI. In 2006 he left DEI and moved to his team full time, running Dodges in a temporary alliance with Bill Davis. In 2007, MWR spearheaded Toyota's much-publicized entrance into the Cup Series, and struggled all year. The team has improved since then, winning a handful of races, and both its full-time drivers made the Chase in 2012. However, they've been mired by controversy and scandal multiple times — in 2007, Waltrip's car for the Daytona 500 contained what appeared to be jet fuel, and in 2013, they tried to manipulate the points at Richmond to alter who made it into the Chase. This latter scandal had a severe effect on the team, to the extent that 2014 and especially 2015 have seen them regress toward where they were right before Clint Bowyer's arrival, and with Rob Kauffman's above-mentioned buy-in to the Ganassi group, the team will stop fielding full-time entries after 2015.

  • 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, but a mediocre run at the Chicagoland opener went From Bad to Worse when an illegal track-bar modification was discovered, with the resulting P4 penalty dropping him from a small gap to 12th into a big hole. In spite of this, Bowyer's long-term plans came began to come into focus shortly thereafter, starting with a place-holder year in HScott's #51, after which Bowyer will move to Stewart-Haas in 2017 as the heir to Tony Stewart's #14. Despite this, Bowyer was unable to overcome the long odds against him, actually losing more points with further mediocre runs at New Hampshire and Dover, ensuring his elimination after the Challenger round regardless of whether his penalty had been overturned by the appeals board. (it was not)

  • David Ragan (#55)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. At Kansas, he took over the #55.

  • Brian Vickers (#55, out indefinitely)- Seemingly left for dead in NASCAR after the dissolution of the Red Bull team, Vickers 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 has officially announced that Vickers will 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.

  • Brett Moffitt (#55, injury sub for Vickers)(R) - A younger driver who primarily works as a testing and development driver with Michael Waltrip Racing, running full-time in K&N East. He ran seven Cup races (with one DNQ) for now-defunct MWR satellite Identity Ventures Racing in 2014. In 2015, he became Vickers' main stand-in for the first part of the season as he continues to fight his health issues. He currently moves to FRM, replacing Ragan in the #34.

  • Michael Waltrip (#55, Daytona and Talladega injury sub) - The younger brother of three-time champion Darrell Waltrip. Mikey came onto the scene in the 1980s but for years lived under the shadow of his older brother. He went winless for over a decade, until finally breaking through with DEI and scoring a victory at the 2001 Daytona 500, marred by the death of his team owner, Dale Earnhardt. He didn't have a top five finish after that until the Pepsi 400 and return to Daytona that year, finishing an emotional second to teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Waltrip would win three races in 2002 and 2003 (the 2002 Pepsi 400, as well as a rain-shortened 2003 Daytona 500 and fall EA Sports 500 at Talladega), but didn't see much success besides that, and left for his self-owned team in 2006. He retired from full-time racing in 2010, and has raced part-time since then, focusing on running MWR and joining his brother in the broadcast booth.

RAB Racing

  • Reed Sorenson (#29) - 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 in start-and-park rides, which made his 2014 ride with Tommy Baldwin Racing something of an upgrade. However, the sell-off of the #36 to Premium Motorsports forced him to take a downgrade, first doing a one-off with Team XTREME (with some help from TBR sponsor Golden Corral) followed by joining RAB, a team that's yet to make a Cup race.

     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, a Hendrick Motorsports development driver who has been tabbed as Jeff Gordon's successor beginning in 2016.
  • 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. Since then, Dale, much like Ned, moved to the broadcast booth with ESPN.
  • 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.
    TV Commentators 


  • 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.


  • 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.