Categories
XFINITY

NASCAR XFINITY Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Daniel Suarez

The 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season was a year of firsts for 24-year-old Daniel Suarez. From collecting his first series win at Michigan in June to becoming the first foreign-born driver to win a NASCAR National Series championship at Homestead in November, Suarez made this past season one for the history books.

 

Car No. 19

Crew Chief: Scott Graves

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Wins: 3

Top-Fives: 19

Top-10’s: 27

Points Finish: 1st

 

2016 Quick Summary: Suarez was a model of consistency in 2016, only recording six finishes outside the top ten during the 33 race campaign. He picked up wins at Michigan (June), Dover (October), and Homestead (November) as part of his championship season. Over the season’s final 11 races, Suarez recorded 10 top five finishes with a worst finish of eighth coming at Richmond in September.

2016 Highlight(s): The Monterrey, Mexico native won the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase by winning the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead – Miami Speedway. He led a race-high 133 laps and was able to hold Ty Dillon and Elliott Sadler on the final restart of the race to claim the championship.

2016 Lowlight(s): Suarez only recorded two finishes of 30th or worse this past season. He finished 32nd at Daytona in July after crashing out after just 48 laps. Qualified on the pole at Iowa in July and led only 11 laps before exiting the race due to an engine failure.

2017 Outlook: With the sudden announcement of Carl Edwards, Suarez will move up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series full time with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Suarez will contend for Rookie of the Year honors and will have the presence of veteran crew chief Dave Rogers on top of the pit box. He will also have veteran teammates Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin to lean on for guidance in his rookie season.

Given how quickly he took to the XFINITY Series, he may struggle a little bit at the start of this season but look for Suarez to post some strong results in the second half. 

 EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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

Categories
Trucks

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Johnny Sauter

After a long 13 year odyssey of what could have been’s and heartbreaks, Johnny Sauter finally reached the summit of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016 by claiming his first ever series championship.

Car No. 21

Crew Chief(s): Marcus Richmond, Joe Shear Jr.

Team: GMS Racing

Wins: 3

Top-Fives: 12

Top-10s: 19

Points Finish: 1st

2016 Quick Summary: Sauter opened the 2016 season with a bang by winning the season opener at the Daytona International Speedway in February.

After sub-par finishes in the following three races, Sauter rode a wave of consistency by recording five top-five finishes in the next six races. In the regular season’s final seven races, Sauter continued to turn up the wick as he recorded only one finish outside the top-10 which came at Eldora in July.

Once the Chase started in Loudon it became quickly apparent Sauter was going to be a factor in the final seven races as he scored back-to-back wins at Martinsville and Texas which secured his spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

At Homestead, Sauter didn’t have the fastest truck however he was the fastest when it mattered as he was able to finish third to claim his first series championship.

2016 Highlight(s): Won the season opener at Daytona followed by wins at Martinsville and Texas in the Chase. 2016 Camping World Truck Series champion.

2016 Lowlight(s): 2016 didn’t provide many lowlights for Sauter; however, there was a three race stretch early in the season where he didn’t record a single top-10 finish and led only nine laps in those three races. This proved to be Sauter’s biggest slide of the season.

2017 Outlook: Sauter along with Joe Shear Jr. will return to GMS Racing this season with their sights firmly set on another championship. Sauter’s incredible versatility will continue to make him a factor week in and week across the Truck Series schedule in 2017.

If Sauter can duplicate the same success from the 2016 season look for him to be racing for a championship once again come November.

 EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Kyle Busch

Although 2016 didn’t produce back-to-back Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships, Kyle Busch still proved he was one of the ones to beat recording four wins and a second straight berth in the Championship 4.

Car No. 18

Crew Chief: Adam Stevens

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Wins: 4

Top-Fives: 17

Top-10’s: 25

Points Finish: 3rd

2016 Quick Summary: Busch backed up his storybook 2015 championship campaign with an equally impressive 2016 season. Back to back wins at Texas and Martinsville were followed up by his first career Cup Series win at Kansas in May and his second consecutive triumph at Indianapolis in July. Once the Chase started, Busch rattled off five consecutive top-10 finishes highlighted by a second place finish at Dover. In the season’s final four races he recorded three top-fives and four top-10 finishes.

2016 Highlight(s): Busch made a statement in the Spring races at Martinsville Speedway in April by winning both the Camping World Truck Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races that weekend. Busch led a race-high 352 laps in his first career triumph at the paper clip. In July at Indianapolis, Busch blitzed the field starting on pole and was never seriously challenged leading 149 of 170 laps for his second consecutive Brickyard triumph.

2016 Lowlight(s): Michigan International Speedway was unkind to Busch in June as he would finish 40th after an engine failure on Lap 52 would knock him out of the race.

2017 Outlook: Busch, Stevens, and the entire No. 18 crew will return to Joe Gibbs Racing next season with their sights firmly set on reclaiming the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Don’t look for Busch to leave JGR anytime soon as he is signed on through the 2019 season. Based on the dominance showed through this past season, it won’t be a surprise to see Busch contend for the championship once again.

EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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

Categories
XFINITY

NASCAR XFINITY Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Elliott Sadler

The 2016 season was nothing short of a career renaissance for Elliott Sadler. The Emporia, VA native enjoyed one of his finest seasons in NASCAR recording three wins and a second place finish in the final XFINITY Series championship standings.

Car No. 1

Crew Chief(s): Kevin Meendering, Mike Bumgarner

Team: JR Motorsports

Wins: 3

Top-Fives: 14

Top-10’s: 29

Points Finish: 2nd

2016 Quick Summary: Success is the only word that could be used to describe Sadler’s 2016 season as he was in the top-five in the championship points standings over the entire 33 race schedule. Sadler’s consistency allowed him to remain in the top two of the standings throughout the entire regular season, easily qualifying him for the inaugural XFINITY Chase.

Once he was in the Chase, he kept it coming with six straight top-seven finishes, allowing him to enter Phoenix International Raceway with a substantial gap, just needing a solid finish to make it into the Championship 4. Sadler ran a conservative race, ultimately finishing 13th to allow him to qualify. However, he’d be less three lug nuts post-race, resulting in crew chief Kevin Meendering suspended for the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sadler battled hard at Homestead, and played a two tire strategy late, but it wasn’t enough as he’d finish the race third, ending up second in the standings.

2016 Highlight(s): Any win is special but Sadler’s win at Darlington on Labor Day weekend was definitely the high point of his 2016 campaign. He started from the third position and dominated leading a race 75 laps and held off Denny Hamlin by .454 seconds to score his first career win at the Lady in Black in 13 career NXS starts at the track.

2016 Lowlight(s): It’s tough to pick out a weak point in Sadler’s 2016 season, However if you are looking for one it has to be the May race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sadler started sixth but was never a factor much on the afternoon finishing 28th, six laps down to eventual race winner Hamlin.

2017 Outlook: Sadler will return to JR Motorsports in 2017 and will be considered one of the heavy favorites to hoist the NXS championship trophy once Homestead-Miami Speedway in November comes around. Crew chief Kevin Meendering will return on top of the pit box. Sadler will have a couple of new teammates in 2017 to go along with the returning Justin Allgaier – rookie sensation William Byron and Michael Annett join the team next season.

If Sadler and team can pick up from where they left off in 2016, look for next season to be another successful year for Sadler, possibly ending in his first career championship.

EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards enjoyed success and endured heartbreak during the 2016 Cup Series season. The Columbia, MO native scored three wins and found himself in the Championship 4 after winning the rain-shortened Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Car No. 19

Crew Chief: Dave Rogers

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Wins: 3

Top-Fives: 9

Top-10s: 18

Points Finish: 4th

2016 Quick Summary: Edwards came out of the gate quickly in 2016 by winning two races (Bristol and Richmond), and recording five top-fives to go along with eight top-tens in the first 12 races.

For as outstanding as Edwards was in the first twelve races it certainly was not the case leading up to the Chase cutoff race at Richmond. He only recorded seven top-ten finishes in those 14 races with a best finish of second coming at Kentucky.

As the Chase started, Edwards continued to go through a late-season swoon as he recorded only two top-10s in the first five races. He was able to secure his place in the Championship 4 after winning the rain-shortened race at Texas Motor Speedway. It appeared Edwards was going to finally win the championship that got away in 2011 at Homestead-Miami Speedway; however, it wasn’t to be. He’d finish the race in 34th after being clipped by Joey Logano on a late-race restart.

2016 Highlight(s): Scored back-to-back wins at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway. Won the Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway in November.

2016 Lowlight(s): Edwards’ lowlight was easily the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Edwards started 10th and had the fastest car of the Championship 4 for much of the race swapping the lead with Kyle Larson over the event’s first 250 laps. On the second to last restart, Edwards restarted second and appeared to be one good restart away from his elusive first title until disaster struck. While defending his position, Edwards was spun by Logano triggering a multi-car wreck which ended the championship dream. Edwards would finish 34th.

2017 Outlook: Edwards shook the NASCAR world to the core by announcing his shocking retirement from the sport. Edwards amassed 28 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins to go along with 124 top fives, and 220 top-10s. He was also the 2007 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion, winning 38 career races in NASCAR’s second-tier series.

 EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Matt Kenseth

Consistency was once again the name of the game for Matt Kenseth during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The Cambridge, WI native scored two victories and qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the seventh consecutive season.

 

Car No. 20

Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Wins: 2

Top-Fives: 8

Top-10’s: 19

Points Finish: 5th

2016 Quick Summary: Kenseth finished the 2016 campaign with another top five points finish after scoring wins Dover (May) and at Loudon (July). It wasn’t the textbook week after week consistently good to great finishes we are used to seeing from the 2003 premier series champion but more times often than not especially during the Chase, Kenseth found his stride, recording only two finishes outside the top – 20 in the final ten races.

2016 Highlight(s): Kenseth’s win in May at Dover was one of the wildest races during the 2016 season. After a late race stack up that took out a chunk of the field, He was able to hold off Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott over the final 47 laps to score the victory.

2016 Lowlight(s): Kenseth appeared to be on his way to a Championship 4 berth at Phoenix in November after leading 55 of the race’s final 67 laps until a late race restart on lap 317, when he was collected in a wreck with Alex Bowman which ended any hope of a second premier series championship. He would go on to finish 21st.

2017 Outlook: Even though Kenseth enters his 18th season of full-time competition in NASCAR’s top series in 2017 don’t expect the 44-year-old to slow down as he continues the fire that made him a champion and a perennial championship contender in the mid-2000’s. Kenseth just sits two wins shy of 40 premier series wins for his already certain Hall of Fame career. With Jason Ratcliff returning to the top of the pit box and one of the best pit crews in the business at his disposal look for 2017 to be business as usual for Kenseth and the No. 20 team.

 EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin‘s 2016 season started out in grand fashion by winning the Daytona 500 in the closest finish in event history. However, despite three wins in 2016, untimely pit road penalties and inconsistency kept him from his ultimate goal of winning a championship.

Car No. 11

Crew Chief: Mike Wheeler

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Wins: 3

Top-Fives: 12

Top-10s: 22

Points Finish: 6th

2016 Quick Summary: Hamlin’s 2016 started out with a bang with a win in the 58th annual Daytona 500 after leading a race-high 95 laps and holding off Martin Truex Jr. in the closest finish in 500 history.

Hamlin didn’t see much success in the season’s first 12 races only recording three top-fives and five top-10s. However, he picked up his performance just after the halfway point in the season recording eight straight top-10 finishes including two more wins including his first road course victory at Watkins Glen.

Once the Chase started at Chicagoland Speedway, Hamlin put together seven top-10 finishes with a best Chase finish of third coming at Talladega and Martinsville in October.

2016 Highlight(s): Daytona 500 winner. Scored his first career road – course win at Watkins Glen in August. Won from the pole at Richmond in September after leading 189 laps.

2016 Lowlight(s): The April race at Martinsville was far from one of Hamlin’s shining moments at a track where he has had great success. After starting eighth, he hung around the top ten for most of the day until his race came to a premature end after only 221 laps after crashing in turn one.

2017 Outlook: Hamlin, Wheeler, and all the key pieces return to the No.11 team next season so that should mean we’ll see Hamlin make a return trip to the NASCAR playoffs in 2017. What remains to be seen however is if Hamlin can eliminate the mental errors on pit road and turn solid top-10 runs into top-fives and wins.

Hamlin’s JGR teammates Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch will all also return next season giving JGR one of the best driver lineups in the Cup Series.

 EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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

Categories
Trucks

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Christopher Bell

Christopher Bell enjoyed a very solid rookie campaign in the Camping World Truck Series in 2016. In addition to scoring his second career NCWTS win, he also qualified for the Championship 4 in the inaugural NCWTS Chase.

Car No. 4

Crew Chief: Jerry Baxter

Team: Kyle Busch Motorsports

Wins: 1

Top-Fives: 9

Top-10’s: 17

Points Finish: 3rd

2016 Quick Summary: After a slow start to the 2016 season with three finishes outside of the top-15, Bell would record a string of 17 top-10 finishes in the season’s final 20 races which included a win at Gateway and nine top fives.

The consistency for Bell was most apparent through the Chase, only finishing outside of the top-10 once with an 11th at Texas Motor Speedway. It allowed him to enter Homestead-Miami Speedway with a shot at the championship, but ultimately an eighth place finish wasn’t enough to take home the title.

2016 Highlight(s): Bell recorded his second career Truck Series win in the June race at Gateway Motorsports Park. He led 38 laps and held off a hard-charging Ben Rhodes to score the victory.

2016 Lowlight(s): The June race at Texas Motor Speedway was an absolute nightmare for Bell as engine woes ended the 22-year-old’s night before it even started leaving him with a 32nd place finish.

2017 Outlook: Bell will return to the No. 4 JBL Audio Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2017. While Bell is figured to be one of the top contenders for the championship next season, he won’t have veteran crew chief Jerry Baxter calling the shots as Baxter has moved on to GMS Racing in 2017. Bell will also have new teammates coming on board at KBM next season with the additions of Noah Gragson, Todd Gilliland, Harrison Burton, and Myatt Snider.

If despite the changes Bell continues his consistency and grows more as a driver, he could very well call himself a champion at the end of 2017.

EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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

Categories
Trucks

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – William Byron

William Byron went from unheralded rookie to household name during the 2016 Camping World Truck Series season. Although he fell just one race short of running for the series championship, Byron is among the ones to watch in the coming years.

 

Car No. 9

Crew Chief: Ryan “Rudy” Fugle

Team: Kyle Busch Motorsports

Wins: 7

Top-Fives: 11

Top-10’s: 16

Points Finish: 5th

2016 Quick Summary: Byron established himself a championship contender early in 2016 by picking up his first career NCWTS win at Kansas in May. From there he tallied six more victories and held the championship lead for 13 of 23 races this past season. For all the success Byron enjoyed in 2016 it failed to produce a championship as his dreams were dashed in Phoenix in November when an engine failure after leading a race 112 laps leaving him just short of the Championship 4.

2016 Highlight(s): Byron captured the 2016 NCWTS Rookie of the Year award after tallying a rookie record seven wins in one season.

2016 Lowlight(s): The Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway in November is a race Byron would love to have back. After starting from the pole, he had the field covered for much in the evening, leading 112 out of the race’s first 138 laps when disaster struck by way of an engine failure leaving the prohibitive series championship favorite out of the Championship 4 at Homestead. Ironically Byron would win the season finale at the track just one week later.

2017 Outlook: 2017 brings a whole variety of changes for Byron as he moves to the NASCAR XFINITY Series driving for JR Motorsports. Byron shouldn’t have much trouble getting accustomed to the second tier series which will feature a deeper pool of competition including his teammates Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, and Michael Annett. Look for Byron to become a factor for wins early as he has familiarity with most of the XFINITY Series schedule with the exceptions of Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, Road America, and MidOhio. The expectations for Byron and this race team next season should be at least a win and a berth in the XFINITY Series Chase.

EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

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