Single Car Effort for RPM in 2017

Following a season with dismal results, Richard Petty Motorsports confirmed late last week they would be scaling back their organization for 2017, focusing on a single-car rather than two.

“At the conclusion of the 2016 season, we evaluated how to best improve our on-track product,” CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports Brian Moffitt released in a statement. “We feel that it’s in the best interest of our partners and for Richard Petty Motorsports to focus our resources on the No. 43 Ford Fusion and Aric (Almirola) in 2017.”

Last season, RPM didn’t have the results they expected with Aric Almirola or Brian Scott. Both drivers failed to place in the top-25 of the final Sprint Cup Series standings, leading only seven laps between them with a top-10 each. While Almirola was locked in for another year at RPM, Scott announced at the end of last season he was retiring to focus on his family.

The finishes weren’t a total surprise, though, as RPM has been in a bit of downward spiral for awhile, as Almirola and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 17th and 26th in the series standings in 2015, with three top-fives and nine top-10s between them.

If the team’s efforts work towards improving the organization, it could bring them closer to where they were in 2014 when Almirola won at Daytona, qualifying them for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Almirola finished 16th in points with seven top-10 finishes.

“A concentrated effort on one team will position us for improvement while giving us adequate time to reestablish our two-car team in 2018,” Moffitt continued. “For the interim, we will lease one of our two charters.”

Notably, the No. 44 charter has been leased to go Go Fas Racing for their No. 32 entry with Matt DiBenedetto.



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

NASCAR Cup Series

Scott Ready for Final Race Before Retiring

Brian Scott shocked the NASCAR garage last week when he announced the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway would be his last.

The 28-year-old will retire from NASCAR racing following Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400, citing family time as an important factor in his decision.

In a message he sent to his followers on social media last week, Scott said “Over the past couple of years I have begun a family of my own, and it has grown. I’m blessed to have an amazing wife and two incredible kids. The Sprint Cup schedule has taken its toll on me and caused me to reevaluate what I want in life for myself and my family. Through countless time in prayer with my family, the Lord has made it clear it’s time for me to focus on my family and put them first.”

2016 has been a frustrating year for the Idaho native. Following the race at Talladega Superspeedway last month where he posted a career-best runner-up finish, he said, “Just trying to get any bit of a bright spot this year has been difficult. I think that this is by far the brightest spot that we’ve had in a really challenging 2016 for Richard Petty Motorsports. I don’t know; I guess the results and what this does for us going forward is yet to be determined.”

Scott is completing his first full-time season of Sprint Cup racing for Richard Petty Motorsports after competing in the XFINITY Series full-time since 2010 for with stints at Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Before moving up to the XFINITY Series, he competed in the Camping World Truck Series, most notably for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

 As he moved up the racing ladder, he never seemed to lose place of where he came from or touch with himself, staying as the same low key guy. Take a moment from Iowa Speedway a couple years ago.

Before I began covering motorsports and was going to races purely as a fan, I had pit passes for an XFINITY Series race at Iowa Speedway a few years back. I had brought a few driver cards with me, in case I had the opportunity to get an autograph and say hello. Brian Scott walked by the entrance near pit road as he was on his way out to his car for qualifying. He saw I was holding two cards. He approached me and said hello and thanked me for coming out to the races. I asked him if he would sign one of my cards. “Absolutely,” he replied. Being polite, I thanked him and assumed he would go on his way. Then he offered to sign the second card I had brought. “I can sign that one too, man,” he said. It was cool to see a star just act like an average person. I know journalists are not supposed to have favorites, but that moment was one I’ll always remember. I would always look for his name in the rundown after the race was over.

In Scott’s 39th career Truck Series start in 2009 and at just 21 years old, he took the checkers for the first time in a race marred by tire issues and cautions. It came driving the No. 16 Albertson’s Toyota Tundra for Xpress Motorsports. After making the jump to compete in the XFINITY Series, he still dabbled with the trucks on occasion. In 2012, he again won at Phoenix International Raceway, wheeling the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, leading a race-high 48 laps en route to the win.

Scott had a solid tenure in the XFINITY Series, but never was able to find Victory Lane in 208 starts. He came painfully close in 2013 driving for Richard Childress Racing at Richmond International Raceway. He led the first 239 laps and looked like he was on his way to his first win before Brad Keselowski passed him on the high side with 11 laps remaining and went on to win. Scott was second. His team protested Keselowski restarted too early on the last restart of the race, but to no avail. Scott has 20 top-fives and four runner-up finishes on the XFINITY side. His best year came in 2014, where he finished fourth in the standings.

Brian has a strong fanbase on the racetrack because of his story away from the track. In January 2014, he married his wife, Whitney, and since their special day, their emotional wedding video went viral. Whitney was married previously, and had a daughter of her own, Brielle. Not only did Whitney and Brian wrote separate vows for each other, but Brian also wrote vows specifically for Brielle. He got down on one knee to read them to her. (Grab a tissue, y’all).

“Brielle, can I tell you something? I promise to always hold your hand and skip with you down the street, and bring comfort to your life. I vow to make you say your prayers before you eat. I promise to read you stories at night, to always tuck you in real tight. I vow to show you how a man should treat a woman in my relationship with your mother. And above all else, I vow to protect you, care for you and love you forever.”

Click here for the full video.

Now with a successful career and notable highlights to carry forward with him as he walks away, he hopes to add one more highlight with a solid run this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

“I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to drive for Richard Petty Motorsports this season, and I’m looking forward to ending the year on a high note at Homestead-Miami Speedway,” Scott said. “Homestead is so unique in that it’s a true oval and doesn’t have a dogleg, so you really have to make a good turn getting into all four of the corners. I’ve had a lot of success in the XFINITY and Truck Series at Homestead, so I know if we’ve got speed off the truck that we will have a good chance at getting our No. 44 Safeway Ford to the front of the field.”

Scott has good reason to be excited about racing at Homestead. In six XFINITY Series starts, he has four top-10 finishes, finishing as high as fourth in 2015. In the three starts he has made at Homestead in the Truck Series, he finished inside the top-15 each time, with a best finish of eighth coming in 2008. Last year, Scott was 28th in the Sprint Cup finale in his lone Sprint Cup Series start at Homestead.

The staff here at POPULAR SPEED would like to wish Brian Scott and his family all the best in beginning the next chapter of their lives.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist


TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

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

NASCAR Cup Series

Scott to Retire from NASCAR After Homestead Race

PHOENIX — After only one full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, Brian Scott will retire from NASCAR racing following the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Scott, driver of the No. 44 for Richard Petty Motorsports, made the announcement Thursday and said it was a personal decision to dedicate more time to his family and a new career.

“This was a difficult decision, but one that I made myself for my family,” Scott said. “Racing and specifically NASCAR has been and will always be in my heart, but right now, I want to turn all my attention to my family and to be able to spend more time with them.

“Racing has blessed me with great opportunities, and I’m very grateful for everything that it has allowed me to do, but for me, it’s time to move on. I can’t thank everyone enough who helped me in my career. I would not have made it to where I am at today without their trust and commitment.”

A Boise, Idaho native, Scott’s career started in the Camping World Truck Series in 2007, running seven races. Over the next five years, he won two truck races at Dover and Phoenix, the only victories of his tenure in NASCAR to date.

He completed six full-time seasons in the XFINITY Series from 2010 to 2015 with Braun Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Richard Childress Racing.

In 51 career Cup starts, Scott’s highlights include a pole at Talladega in 2014 and a second-place finish at the track last month. After 34 races this season, he sits 32nd in the standings.

Scott’s sponsor Albertsons Companies will also leave the sport at the conclusion of the 2016 campaign.

The No. 44 will continue to compete in 2017, but a replacement has not yet been determined.

On Thursday morning, Scott tweeted:



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


Anti-Busch Rule? Drivers React to Participation Guidelines

Last week, NASCAR announced a new series of guidelines regarding the amount of races Sprint Cup Series competitors could run in the Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series.

Drivers with more than five years of full-time experience in the Sprint Cup Series will only be allowed to run a maximum of 10 XFINITY races a season, with no starts during the final eight races or four Dash 4 Cash races.

“I definitely agree with not running in the Chase races or cutoff races for those guys because there’s just too much at stake for those racing for the championship in trucks and XFINITY Series, especially when you have a guy that’s trying to get a first time win and move himself onto the next round of the Chase and a Cup or XFINITY driver moves down and was to win, I guess you could say it’s a level playing field, but they’re in the Sprint Cup Series for a reason,” Denny Hamlin said. “They’re really good drivers and obviously I think the end result of all this is going to be positive, it’s going to make for exciting races and those guys, all these stand-alone events have had great races. I think you could potentially see even more action with Trucks only or XFINITY only drivers participating in their own series.”

The decision comes from NASCAR after watching five to 10 Sprint Cup Series drivers run in the XFINITY Series at companion events, with 19 of the 30 XFINITY races this season being won by Sprint Cup Series points-eligible drivers. Last year, 23 of the 33 XFINITY races were won by Cup drivers.

“I think that’s great,” Brian Scott said. “I think that’s what this series needs to build names and give drivers opportunities and experience at winning races and getting into Victory Lane.  I guess on a selfish level I wish they would have done that five years ago when I was competing in those series because I’d probably have a lot more wins.  I think it’s great.  I’m excited to watch the young up-and-coming drivers get more experience at winning and get into Victory Lane and making names for themselves to ultimately pursue their dreams of probably racing in the Sprint Cup just like I did.”

Though while there’s been an influx of drivers, some wonder whether it’s based on one single person – Kyle Busch.

While there seems to be a sense the rule comes about due to multiple Cup drivers in the series, it’s worth noting Busch has been known for making the most XFINITY starts of his competitors. Also, he has also created a pattern of winning a lot over the past five years. Last year he won six races in 15 starts while winning nine races in 16 starts this year. Each weekend he’d win, social media would light up with comments from fans stating he was stinking up the series for the other drivers.

“I think it’s a rule change that somebody felt needed to be done – fans, media, whoever doesn’t like that Kyle Busch wins so much,” Brendan Gaughan told POPULAR SPEED last week. “So they’ve made a rule to protect against Kyle Busch. I don’t think we have a Cup driver problem. I think we have a problem with one driver and people don’t like it. I want to race against him each week so I don’t care. I want to race against him and try to beat him every week, so I can get better. So for me, it’s a rule they’ve made, it’s in place and it’s done. We’ll fight through it; we’ll keep racing, and hopefully it results in some more wins for us. But in the end, I still wish they were racing against us.”

In reaction to the rule, Busch told USA Today he believed the guidelines were made to “eliminate the strongest force of competition” and saying it is Kyle Busch 2.0 as “there’s already been a Kyle Busch Rule years ago when they made the rule when I was 16 and got booted out.” Busch was racing in the truck series at the age of 15, but NASCAR increased the minimum age mid-season to 16, requiring Busch to take the rest of the season off. 

Through the years, Busch hasn’t been the only driver to dip his toes in the second-tier division as he has been joined by Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and others. Notably, Larson and Dillon are not subject to the rule yet, as the 2017 season will mark their fourth full season of Sprint Cup competition. A breakdown of the past two seasons in XFINITY for these six drivers can be seen below.

Driver ‘16 Starts ’16 Wins ’15  Starts ’15 Wins
Kyle Busch 16 9 15 6
Austin Dillon 4 1 8 1
Kevin Harvick 6 0 12 2
Brad Keselowski 13 0 9 2
Kyle Larson 14 1 14 1
Joey Logano 13 2 11 4

Logano says he understands the reasons for the rule; however it doesn’t mean he is in full agreement.

“I think it’s important to have Cup racers out there because I think growing up as a young race car driver I learned that you only get better when you’re racing against people that are better than you, and I think this has the ability to give young drivers that and young crew chiefs coming up through the XFINITY Series,” he said. “I think it gives them the ability to work with Cup drivers and things like that, so I think that’s good that they have that mix in there, but at the same time you also want to have the opportunity for young drivers to get into the seat and drive it at some point.”

For drivers, there could be future problems moving forward as some teams had already signed deals for next year before the regulations were released. Busch told USA Today his sponsor NOS Energy Drink had already signed for Busch to run more than the 10 races he will be allowed, so there will need to be renegotiating done.

“What we do with the rest of the money NOS Energy Drink pays us for the rest of the races, we’ve got to work out,” he said. “We already had a deal in place, so now those contracts are null and void and have to change.”

Part of the rule is about allowing the series to create its own identity by having its own breed of stars win races. However, part of forcing series identity is putting the familiar faces in front of the fans, something Elliott Sadler pointed out has been missing lately in post-race interviews.

Whether this is the right move or not has yet to be seen as only time will tell. However, for now, these are the rules everybody will have to play by.

“Obviously, the only thing that matters is what the fans want,” Blake Koch told POPULAR SPEED. “So if the fans are complaining, I applaud NASCAR for trying something to fix it. Obviously, we want to keep the fans happy as we want them to pay money to come watch us race, or watch on TV. So whatever we need to do to give the fans what they want, I’m good with.”



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

NASCAR Cup Series

Scott, RPM Earn Best Results of 2016 at ‘Dega

It’s no secret Richard Petty Motorsports has had a rough go of it in 2016.

Through the first 31 points races of the Sprint Cup Series season, they had no top 10s and a total of seven laps led.

The organization’s XFINITY Series program shut down after 11 races for financial reasons, and Jeb Burton lost his ride in the No. 43.

All together in Cup, the two RPM drivers Brian Scott and Aric Almirola had a combined 11 DNFs.

But Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway provided the team with much-needed results and Scott notched the best finish of his Cup career.

Scott brought his No. 44 home in second while Almirola finished eighth — his best finish since Dover in October 2015 where he finished fifth.

For Scott, his team’s pre-race strategy went as planned, which set him up for the runner-up finish.

“We had a team meeting before the race,” Scott said. “We knew that we were going to have to be perfect, we are going to have to have no mistakes on pit road. Keep good track position all day and try to make friends throughout the race so they would work with us at the end. Our game plan was executed really well.”

On the final restart, the rookie knew he would need some help to get around race winner Joey Logano. With help from Denny Hamlin, he was able to stay near the front and almost pull off what would have been a surprising victory.

“We had a really solid car, and Roush-Yates Engines were amazing today,” Scott said. “When it came down to the restart there at the end, we’re lucky enough to have Denny Hamlin and some guys work with us to get an opportunity at the win.”

Despite RPM’s struggles in 2016, both drivers have had decent records at the restrictor plate tracks.

Scott won his first career Cup pole at ‘Dega driving for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 33 in May 2014. Two months later, Almirola won his first Cup race at the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July.

Earlier this season, Almirola won again at Daytona in July — this time in the XFINITY race with Biagi-DenBeste Racing’s No. 98.

Scott said Sunday’s race helps boost his team’s spirits in what’s been a grueling first, full-time season in NASCAR’s premier series.

“A good finish always helps,” Scott said. “It helps with the team. It helps with the guys at the shop — the morale. Just trying to get any bright spot out of this year has been difficult and I think this has been by far, the brightest spot that we’ve had in a really challenging 2016 for Richard Petty Motorsports.”



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

NASCAR Cup Series

CANDID: Brian Scott on 2016

Brian Scott, driver of the #44 for Richard Petty Motorsports, is in his first full Sprint Cup season. Currently, he is ranked 30th in the standings, having yet to record a Top 10 finish. He spoke with Popular Speed about his season.

How would you describe this rookie season?

We haven’t fired off…with the speed that we wanted, but we knew it was going to be a process. As (crew chief) Chris Heroy says “You’ve just got to keep stacking pennies until you make a dollar.”

What makes you describe it that way?

The stability in our program is there, but bad luck and the results haven’t been what we wanted. It’s a long season, and we are working hard every week at the shop and at the racetrack.

What are the obstacles that you and your team have had to overcome?

We need to be more consistent, but that starts with me in the racecar…We are still a really new team and are still in the learning process of everything. It’s taking some time to get everything where we need them.

We’re building our own bodies and our own chassis that we’ve run at select races this year, specifically at Auto Club Speedway where we finished 12th. We’ve have a little bit of bad luck, in Talladega and in Michigan, where we have brought home cars that require fixing.

Where is your team the strongest?

We have a really good group who work hard to get the best racecars we can. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, having good days on pit road, working together as a team. Remembering that we win and lose as a team is good synergy to keep working towards the results that we want.

There are several tracks I think we can produce strong results at. I always enjoy racing at Dover and Richmond. I’ve also had strong finishes at Kansas and Texas. Auto Club Speedway was our best finish this season (12th place) and we were on track to have a decent finish at Michigan but had a wreck end our day early. We definitely have tracks coming up where we could do well.

Is there a moment in the season you point to as a high point? As a low point?

The high point was Auto Club Speedway. We were a lap down but a really good pit strategy brought us back to the lead lap. We were able to stay in the Top-25 through the second half, and really good pit stops eventually worked us into the Top 15. On the green-white-checkered attempt, we restarted ninth. I got in the corner and had to check out of the throttle on one of the last turns that cost us a couple of spots, but we still maintained a 12th-place finish, tied for my career-high. That was a team effort.

One race that could have gone better was Michigan. Good pit stops and strategy by Chris (Heroy) had us running sixth. We got shuffled but had the capabilities to get us back to a good position. The #13 car got into the #10 car, who subsequently (got) into me. There was nothing I could do to hang on to it before we got in the wall. That was really frustrating. We win and lose as a team. We are going to keep moving forward and doing the best we can

What goals do you have for the rest of the season and how confident that you can achieve them?

Win races, make the Chase and win Rookie of the Year. My goal is to just keep working as a team, minimize mistakes both in the racecar and on pit road, and produce the best finishes we have.

2016 has been one of the most competitive seasons in recent NASCAR history. And while Scott hasn’t been at the forefront, the ingredients are there. A strong team with good leadership is in place, just a little luck and a turnaround is imminent.






Brian Scott Heading to Richard Petty Motorsports for 2016

Friday afternoon, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that XFINITY Series driver @bscottracing will drive the No. 9 Ford Fusion in 2016. He will be replacing @SamHornish, who drove the entry in 2015. In preparation for the season-opening Daytona 500, he will participate in the Goodyear Tire test scheduled December 14th at Homestead-Miami Speedway, gaining valuable track time with his new team.

This will be the Scott’s first full-time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The 27-year-old will also be vying for Rookie of the Year honors, competing against drivers which include @chaseelliott and @Chris_Buescher.

“I am thrilled to go Sprint Cup Series racing full-time next year and to do it with such an iconic team,” said Scott. “When you think NASCAR racing, you think Petty. I’m glad to now be a part of that legacy. I had a lot of fun competing in the XFINITY Series for the last seven years, and I’m excited to take the next step.

“I ran some races in the Sprint Cup Series the last few years and learned a lot. I feel like we are in a good position to compete for the Rookie of the Year next year and continue the consistency that RPM built over the last few years.”

The Boise, ID native has nine years of experience in NASCAR’s three national touring series. After a few years in the Camping World Truck Series, he moved up to the XFINITY Series full-time in 2010, piloting the No. 2 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing. While he has never captured a win in the series, he has collected 77 top-10s and 20 top-fives in six seasons. In 2014 he contended for the championship, ultimately finishing a career-best fourth.

In 2015, Scott competed in select Cup Series events. His best finish was at Kansas Motor Speedway, where he placed 12th.

“We’re happy to welcome Brian to the team,” said co-owner Richard Petty. “Our team has worked very hard to continue our winning tradition and building consistency. We feel Brian is a great addition to that. He’s made a steady progression through the ranks, and now, we feel he’s ready to compete in the Sprint Cup Series.”

Sponsorship for the entry has not been announced but is expected to be revealed in the following weeks.



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


Brian Scott Comes Up Short with Uncertainty Looming

Same story, a new week it seems for @bscottracing as he came up short on scoring the victory at Richmond International Raceway on Friday night.

Making his 200th start in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Scott ran up front throughout the whole race and looked to be making a late race charge in the final 40 laps. He had worked his way up to the third spot with a car that was strong on the long run. However, a late race caution and getting hung up on a restart resulted in Scott finishing third.

Despite racing in the XFINITY Series for seven seasons now, Scott has yet to make his inaugural trip to victory lane. He was hoping that Friday night would’ve been the magic ticket given that the 0.75-mile oval has been his strongest track over the past couple of seasons with five straight top-seven finishes now.

Even though he has yet to visit victory lane, he has come close on several occasions, leading the most laps at Richmond in 2013 before being called on jumping a late race restart. Two years removed, and Scott continues to say it’s “one of the most heartbreaking and worst second-place finishes” of his career. In total, the Richard Childress Racing driver has five runner-up finishes to his credit over his career.

This season, Scott has run up front throughout the season, putting himself in a position to win. He has finished in the top-three on four different occasions – Talladega, Iowa, Elkhart Lake and Richmond – but has come up short each event.

The question with Scott has always been – when will knocking on the door turn into a trip to victory lane?

With eight more races left on the schedule, it brings forth a couple different chances. The intermediate ovals, like Texas, Kentucky, and Charlotte, could bring a victory if Scott’s team plays the right strategy as he has run in the top-10 at each of those tracks.

With his plans up in the air for next year, and possibly this being his last full XFINITY Series season, a win would be huge right now for Scott.

“I don’t have plans yet,” he stated on Thursday. “We’re focused really hard in moving into the Sprint Cup and finding a competitive ride, but really, the options are slim up there, and they are tough to find. But really, we’re focused on making that step up and putting together the pieces that we need to for a competitive ride, and trying to not be in the XFINITY Series on a full-time points basis.”

Scott added that he has explored every option that has been out there thus far in his search. He has discussed with RCR about possibly running a fourth car for their organization, as well as possibly racing for a team that has a technical alliance with RCR. He added, though, that he’s willing to break ties with RCR if that need be.

“We’re not closing any doors; we’re open to all opportunities, and nothing is off the table right now,” he commented. “We’re exploring everything and be very thorough in this process.”

Despite no victories to his credit, he feels that he has been ready for the past couple of seasons as a result of his consistency across the board and understanding the different race tracks on the schedule.

“It’s really about an opportunity thing,” he commented. “The right opportunities haven’t come up in the past, and I have been content to run in the XFINITY Series. I think the difference is this year, I’m ready to draw a line in the sand and say I don’t want to continue to find what’s easy out there and do the same thing. I really want to take that next step, and push for all or nothing.”

A victory could open some doors, and present the opportunity that he has been missing over the years.


FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

Development Journalists

Scott Eyes Turnaround

In the NASCAR XFINITY Series, every point matters. Whether it’s the first race at Daytona International Speedway or finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, each point earned goes towards the driver’s final position in the standings.

There is no reset for the final ten races, which means any streaks of bad luck need immediate correction if a team hopes to remain championship eligible. @BScottRacing (Brian Scott) is a series veteran having competed in five full-time seasons. He knows how important staying consistent is as that often keeps competitors in contention.

While he strives for consistency three races into the year, he’s 17th in the driver’s standings. This comes as a result of some bad luck that has plagued the team in two events. It’s difficult to recover from a tough start such as this one. However, the promise this crew has shown over the past two years means they are up for the challenge and will give it their all.

Expectations were high coming into the year. After finishing fourth in the 2014 standings and battling for victories, more of the same was anticipated. While it’s still early, momentum can play a major role. This team does lack momentum after recent runs. However, getting back on the right track could give them the drive they need to climb back towards the top.

Speedweeks didn’t go as planned as a wreck left the team with a DNF to begin the season. A rebound came the following week at Atlanta Motor Speedway as their strength showed with a seventh place finish. The momentum carried them into Las Vegas Motor Speedway where they qualified second, only to have an engine problem on the initial start. This put the car behind the wall early, producing another DNF.

Despite the results, positives exist as when the car didn’t face problems – it had speed. This correlates with the rest of Richard Childress Racing as both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series programs have been among the best this season.

Scott’s teammates are off to good starts as @TyDillon leads the standings while @Brendan62 (Brendan Gaughan) lurks closely behind in sixth. They have been able to put together speed and results, a combination the No. 2 Albertsons/ Sanderson Farms Chevrolet team hopes to find this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

While the 27-year old hasn’t produced the best statistics in his 11 starts, he has been a contender. His best career finish of seventh came last November. He may not be the favorite for Saturday’s Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200; however, fans will likely see him near the front of the field.

A solid performance will do great things for this team. It will begin their quest back to the top of the standings, as well as provide a morale boost as the long season sets in. By the time the summer stretch of races arrives, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Scott become a weekly contender. His experience and talent will help as he takes measures to rebound and eventually fight for the title.

Jason Schultz is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist


Who to Watch: XFINITY Series Drivers 4-2

Last week drivers 7-5 of the XFINITY Series that fans should keep their eyes on during the 2015 season were revealed. Up next are three drivers who are looking to overcome previous obstacles to have their best season yet.

4. @BubbaWallaceDarrell Wallace Jr. moved from Joe Gibbs Racing to Roush Fenway Racing due to a lack of sponsorship at JGR. With more time in the drivers seat, watch for Wallace Jr. to rack up some great finishes.

Last year, Wallace Jr. finished third in the Camping World Truck Series when he scored four wins, nine top-fives and 14 top-10s. He also competed in two XFINITY races, finishing 31st at Talladega and seventh at Daytona. While he doesn’t have much experience in the XFINITY Series, Wallace Jr.’s Truck Series success shows the young driver has lots of talent and promise. With the move to Roush, Wallace Jr. has the opportunity to show fans what he can do at a higher level of competition and prove that the move he made was the correct one.

3. @bscottracingBrian Scott is returning to Richard Childress Racing, however, this time with a new crew chief in Mike Hillman, Jr. Scott is still looking for that first career win in the series.

Scott came close to his first trip to Victory Lane last year when he finished in the top-five six times and the top-10 23 times. He also had one of the most consistent seasons of last year, managing to tie @Elliott_Sadler for third in the standings without any wins. If Scott can break through and grab some victories, he could be a serious title threat come November.

2. Elliott Sadler – Elliott Sadler will have a new look in 2015, as he also switched from Joe Gibbs Racing to Roush Fenway Racing for the upcoming season. Sadler has come close to winning the championship in the past couple of years but has been unable to seal the deal.

Sadler finished third in the standings last year after scoring one win, seven top-fives and 25 top-10s. While he did have a great season, some not-so-hot finishes ultimately pushed Sadler out of title contention. In order to still be in the hunt in November, Sadler and his new team will need to score consistent finishes from the start of the season. Will this big move help the veteran driver finally capture that elusive championship?