Dec. 19, 2015
2016 Movers and Shakers - New Drivers, Crew Chiefs and Teams
Here are some of the highlights of the team, drivers and car changes for the 2016 NASCAR season:
Chase Elliott - Hendrick Motorsports
Replaces Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Chevrolet in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports.
Previous ride: No. 9 Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for JR Motorsports.
Why this is good:
The young driver burst onto the scene by winning two of his first seven races in the series en route to becoming the youngest driver to win a NASCAR national series title in 2014 at the age of 18.
Jeffrey Earnhardt - Go FAS Racing
New ride: No. 32 Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Go FAS Racing.
Previous ride: No. 55 Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Viva Motorsports.
It helps to have an Uncle Dale. Earnhardt, the nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and son of Kerry Earnhardt, made six XFINITY Series starts in 2015 and a handful of Sprint Cup starts, including his debut in the premier series in September at Richmond for Go FAS Racing. Now, the 26-year-old will be running for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the sport's top series, running the majority of races for the No. 32 team.
Clint Bowyer - HScott Motorsports
New ride: A Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for HScott Motorsports.
Previous ride: No. 15 Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Can I hitch a ride? Since MWR closed up shop, Bowyer had to hop in a seat until the 2017 season when he takes over for Tony Stewart. Bowyer has eight wins in his Sprint Cup career with a best finish of second in the standings in 2012. Sponsor 5-hour ENERGY will join Bowyer at HScott.
Brian Scott - Richard Petty Motorsports
New ride: No. 9 Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Previous ride: No. 2 Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Richard Childress Racing.
XFinity Master. After six full-time seasons in the XFINITY Series with multiple teams, Scott makes the move to a full-time Sprint Cup ride. With his ride at RPM, Scott joins Elliott, Blaney and Buescher as Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates.
Sam Hornish Jr.
New ride: Plans unknown
Previous ride: No. 9 Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Seems like The King is hanging Sam out to dry. There are no plans finalized yet for Hornish who lasted just one season back in the Sprint Cup ranks before he has to give up his ride.
Chad Johnston - Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
New: Crew chief for the No. 42 of Kyle Larson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Previously: Crew chief for the No. 14 of Tony Stewart in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Randall Burnett - JTG Daugherty Racing
New: Crew chief for the No. 47 for AJ Allmendinger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Previously: Lead engineer for the No. 42 for Kyle Larson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Burnett will become a first-time crew chief after a 10-year stint with Chip Ganassi Racing. He takes over the reins of the No. 47 crew from Brian Burns, who spent the past three seasons as the full-time crew chief of the team and guided Allmendinger to his first win and the Chase in 2014. Burnett will be tasked with turning around the fortunes of the single-car team after a disappointing 2015 season.
Wood Brothers Racing
New: Full-time schedule in the No. 21 Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Previously: Part-time schedule in the No. 21 Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Wood Brothers is moving to a full-time schedule with Ryan Blaney behind the wheel. The team has run a part-time schedule since 2009, and if not for rain leading to canceled qualifying sessions, it would have run 19 races in 2015. The talented Blaney scored two top 10s in 2015, and the organization's affiliation with Team Penske should prove major dividends in the long run.
Furniture Row Racing
New: No. 78 Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Previously: No. 78 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The Colorado-based, single-car organization has fielded its entry in a Chevrolet since its debut in 2005, but in 2016 that will change. Furniture Row will shift to Toyota as its manufacturer and enter into a technical alliance with fellow Toyota organization Joe Gibbs Racing. With Michael Waltrip Racing not fielding a full-time team in 2016, Furniture Row helps fill the void in the Toyota racing tree. JGR did not have a technical alliance with MWR, so that aspect of this deal is particularly intriguing.