Like it was last week, much of the focus will be on the 16 drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup over the next nine weeks. Here are some of the drivers who will be looking to attract some attention and compete for a win over the last nine races.
10 Brett Moffitt: One of the drivers who replaced David Ragan at Front Row Motorsports, Moffitt impressed early in the season when he subbed for Brian Vickers at Michael Waltrip Racing and finished eighth at Atlanta. Since then, Moffitt has finished no better than 17th driving for MWR and Front Row Motorsports.
With MWR closing its doors after Homestead, Ragan rumored to be in consideration to come back to FRM and current Xfinity Series points leader Chris Buescher a potential driver for the team next, Moffitt will look to prove he can be competitive with Front Row as 2015 winds down.
9. Trevor Bayne: Like Stenhouse, Bayne was expected to be part of the future for Roush-Fenway Racing. The 2011 Daytona 500 winner has not seen that same success since his breakout win in his second start. Bayne has recorded two top tens this year, his first in over three years, but will be looking for more success to close out his first full-time Cup season with Roush-Fenway.
8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: The two-time Xfinity Series Champion has struggled since moving up to the Cup Series. Though Stenhouse has shown some flashes, he and his Roush Fenway teammates have been mired mid-pack. Having a competitive nine-race stretch to end the year may be a tall task for the team, but if they can it could do wonders for Stenhouse moving forward.
7. Kasey Kahne: After winning his way into the Chase last year, Kahne missed out on the playoffs in 2015. The only one of Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers to not make the playoffs, Kahne has also been working with a new crew chief this season. The last ten races could be key in giving the team some traction before 2016 starts.
6. Danica Patrick: After starting off 2015 well, the third-year driver has slipped some and still has yet to post a top five in nearly three seasons in Sprint Cup. With a new sponsor slated for next season, having some late-season success to build on for next year will be key for her.
5. Aric Almira: Almirola, who made the Chase in 2014 after winning the July race at Daytona, has strung together consecutive top tens. With no Chase this time, Almirola will be looking for a second career win and some success to build on for 2016.
4. Austin Dillon: The only Richard Childress Racing driver to not make this year’s Chase, Dillon’s time in Sprint Cup has largely been underwhelming. The former Truck and Xfinity Series Champion ran up front some during Sunday’s race in Chicagoland, and the young driver will look to continue that same success and translate it into good finishes to close out 2015.
3. Tony Stewart: In the midst of several setbacks, Stewart has also not won in more than two years. Even bigger than that, his team has not been very competitive and rumors were swirling about retirement being near for Stewart. If Stewart is to prove his doubters wrong, he will have to at least run near the front a substantial amount these last few weeks of the year.
2. Kyle Larson: Heading into the season, Larson was considered by many to be primed for a breakout season. That has not happened for the sophomore driver, as he went winless and missed the Chase. After finishing seventh at Chicagoland, Larson proved he can be competitive. Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray is in the Chase, and Larson can use the end of the season to show he can be a contender next year.
- David Ragan: 2015’s most popular substitute driver is on his third team of the season, having driven for Michael Waltrip Racing since Talladega in May. Ragan is a free agent at the end of the season and MWR is shutting down at the end of the year, so Ragan will likely use the final quarter of the season to try and impress teams looking for a driver for 2016.
Enjoy the rest of your week and see you soon.