NASCAR Cup Series

Rookie Outlook: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

As has been the case for the last few seasons, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie class for 2019 is once again full of potential.

We have one of the sport’s most successful organizations looking to produce another playoff-caliber team, a driver who has proven himself after limited schedules in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, another who has overcome cancer to be here, and one who is looking for a fresh start with a relatively new team.

Daniel Hemric

The favorite to win the Rookie of the Year honors, Hemric will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

Being the only rookie with a championship winning organization is not the only advantage he has though. The 27-year-old is the only one of the four drivers eligible for the award who has come close to winning a title, as he was able to qualify for the Championship 4 in both of his full-time seasons in XFINITY.

In addition to his playoff success, he was also able to produce 23 top-five’s and 39 top-10’s during his time in the series. However, his inability of to win may raise concerns as he transitions to Cup.

Ryan Preece

The story of Preece is an interesting one, as he sacrificed potential full-time XFINITY rides in lesser equipment for a part-time schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing.

In his 19 races with the team between 2017 and 2018, he was able to capture two wins and 15 top-10’s. Preece impressive efforts in the limited time he had ultimately landed his new ride at JTG-Daughtery Racing, where the 28-year-old will drive the No. 47 Chevrolet.

The question now is, will his proven talent be able to take this team to the next level?

Matt Tifft

Less than three years ago, Tifft was had to have surgery to remove a brain tumor. Now, he will be a full-time competitor in NASCAR’s top level, driving the No. 36 Ford for Front Row Motorsports.

Tifft to comes from XFINITY, where he has spent the last two season with JGR and RCR, where he tailed eight top-five’s and 22 top-10’s; however like Hemric, he was unable to find victory lane during his time in the series.

Unlike the rest of the full-time rookies, the 22-year-old has zero experience in Cup, and will make his debut at the Daytona 500.

Tanner Berryhill

After being away from NASCAR since 2015, Berryhill made his return to the sport last year with Obaika Racing running two races in Cup at the end of the season. The two will once again partner up in 2019.

Not only is it a rookie season for the driver, but for Obaika as well, who previously fielded entries in XFINITY. The team’s inexperience will not be the only hurdle to overcome though; they also enter the new year without a charter, meaning they will not be guaranteed a sport if an entry list has more than 40 entries.


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By Mitchell Breuer

Mitchell Breuer, is a 22-year-old Minnesota native who is currently attending Winona State University to obtain a degree in Mass Communications-Journalism. In addition to POPULAR SPEED, Mitchell is currently the sports editor at WSU's student paper, The Winonan.