2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series preview and entry list
The 70th season of the NASCAR’s premier division and the 47th season of the modern-era NASCAR Cup Series will kick-off this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
As usual, the season-opening schedule at Daytona consists of the Advance Auto Parts Clash (February 11), the Can-Am Duel qualifying event (February 15) and the 60th running of the Daytona 500. The complete schedule of the 2018 season features 36 races and three exhibition events, the same as the year before.
Three manufacturers will stay involved in premier stock car racing series with a major change occurred in Chevrolet garages. The Chevrolet SS has been replaced by Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 due to discontinuation of its base-model Holden Commodore VF. Ford will continue to run Fusion while Toyota would be represented by Camry.
There are also few major changes on the drivers’ grid for the 2018 Cup Series season. The most important is that Dale Earnhardt Jr., the 15-time most popular driver in a series, retired from full-time racing. Alex Bowman will replace him in the #88 Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolet.
Another big name which would miss from the entry list is Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Winston Cup champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner. Erik Jones will replace Kenseth in the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyota.
The season 2017 was also the last for the most popular female driver in Cup Series history – Danica Patrick. For the 2018 season, she announced only Daytona 500 participation with Premium Motorsports’ #7 Chevrolet. Aric Almirola would take over #10 Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ford in which Patrick spent six seasons.
As a replacement for Almirola in the #43 Chevrolet, Richard Petty Motorsports hired Darrell Wallace Jr. He would be one of just two full-time rookies in the 2018 season. The other rookie is the 2017 Xfinity Series champion William Byron in the #24 Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolet. Chase Elliott, who spent two seasons in the #24 car, now will drive the #9 Chevrolet for the same team.
The reigning Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. will stay in the #78 Furniture Row Racing’s Toyota. All other participants of last year Championship 4 round (Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski) will drive the same cars as in 2017.
Here’s the full entry list for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season
|Chevrolet||Chip Ganassi Racing||1||Jamie McMurray|
|Richard Childress Racing||3||Austin Dillon|
|Hendrick Motorsports||9||Chase Elliott|
|Germain Racing||13||Ty Dillon|
|JTG Daugherty Racing||37||Chris Buescher|
|Richard Petty Motorsports||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.|
|Leavine Family Racing||95||Kasey Kahne|
|StarCom Racing||0||Jeffrey Earnhardt|
|Premium Motorsports||7||Danica Patrick|
|TriStar Motorsports||72||Corey LaJoie, Cole Whitt|
|Ford||Team Penske||2||Brad Keselowski|
|Stewart-Haas Racing||4||Kevin Harvick|
|Roush Fenway Racing||6||Trevor Bayne|
|17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
|Wood Brothers Racing||21||Paul Menard|
|Go Fas Racing||32||Matt DiBenedetto|
|Front Row Motorsports||34||Michael McDowell|
|Toyota||Joe Gibbs Racing||11||Denny Hamlin|
|Furniture Row Racing||78||Martin Truex Jr.|
|TBA||Rick Ware Racing||51||Justin Marks, TBA|
|52||Cody Ware, B.J. McLeod, Kyle Weatherman, John Graham|
|TBA||Circle Sport Racing||33||Joey Gase|
|TBA||MBM Motorsports||66||Mark Thompson, Timmy Hill|
|Chevrolet||Beard Motorsports||62||Brendan Gaughan|
|Ford||RBR Enterprises||92||David Gilliland|
|Toyota||Gaunt Brothers Racing||96||D.J. Kennington|
|Chevrolet||The Motorsports Group||30||TBA|