This is the second in a series of 2016 NASCAR team manufacturer previews. This week, Chevrolet:
Toyota and Kyle Busch’s 2015 championship was just the second since 2004 the title hadn’t been won by Chevrolet. Chevy did win its 13th consecutive and 39th overall manufacturer’s championship.
A new era at Hendrick – and NASCAR – begins after Jeff Gordon’s retirement. Chase Elliott will take over the No. 24 for Gordon, who won four championships before retiring after the 2015 season. As always, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be among title favorites. Story worth following: Can Kasey Kahne find his mojo again after another disappointing season?
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Like Hendrick, SHR will be a team in transition. Team co-owner Tony Stewart will retire from Cup racing after the 2016 season and be replaced in 2017 by Clint Bowyer. Kevin Harvick will be the team’s foundation and will contend for a title again. Kurt Busch, who like his brother Kyle missed the first part of last season, made the Chase anyway (also like Kyle). Story worth following: With a new sponsor, will Danica Patrick finally move to the next level?
Richard Childress Racing
Thanks to Ryan Newman, RCR has had a presence in the Chase the past two years. That might not be enough next season, however. Steady as always in 2015, Newman still hasn’t won since 2013. Austin Dillon’s second full-time Cup season produced one top five (at Michigan), as well as a hair-raising wreck at Daytona. Paul Menard had one of the top non-Chase seasons of anyone in 2015, finishing 14th. Story worth following: Is the season Dillon breaks out?
Chip Ganassi Racing
Kyle Larson might be the best young driver in NASCAR who hasn’t won a race. He was close a few times, finishing third at Dover and fifth at Homestead. He also led 115 laps. Jamie McMurray finally qualified for the Chase in 2015 after years of trying. Story worth following: Is this the year Larson gets his first victory?
AJ Allmendinger is JTG Daugherty Racing’s only driver. But Martin Truex Jr. is Furniture Row Racing’s only driver and he made the Chase last season … HScott Motorsports gets a rent-a-driver for the season in Bowyer, who replaces Stewart at SHR in 2017 … Tommy Baldwin Racing has restructured for 2016 for driver Alex Bowman, including a new car chief in Mike Brill and engineering chief Chad Walters … Single-car Germain Racing will make a go of it again with Casey Mears.
Chevy won its 13th straight and 39th overall Cup manufacturers championship in 2015